It's not how you drive. It's how you arrive.
What Stats Really Matter?
By Kickntrue on 8/27/09
If you haven't noticed- we're kind of stat junkies at oobgolf. That doesn't mean we can't look a little deeper. Mark Sweeney, Founder of AimPoint Technologies, a golf science company, penned an article for today's New York Times that talks about what stats really matter in determining how you played a round. He argues that while fairways are nice, because it's easier to hit out of the fairway than rough, it's still not as important as a lot of other things. Total putts- is a wasted stat because what's it matter how many putts you have if you don't know when they were used. For instance- you could have 36 putts in a round, which would be considered awful by PGA Tour standards, but you could still shoot par, or even -4 par if you played perfectly to the green.
"What I really want to know about a playerGÇÖs performance is how many birdies he made when playing regulation golf, and how many mistakes he made. So you could summarize a round accurately with just the following measures: score, strokes under par, greens in regulation, putting efficiency and errors."
I've reached out to Mr. Sweeney- and hopefully he'll be in touch. We have the stats he's looking for and I think we could show a lot of cool things for you guys if we applied them. Either way- it's fun to have a fresh perspective and different take on your game, even if just for a day. If you're into the stat side of golf- the article is worth a quick read.

Mark Sweeney - NY Times
AimPoint Technologies

photo credit

[ comments ]
mjaber says:
If you are looking to lower your score, and need to determine what you need to improve, there are a lot of stats that you can look at. If you're averaging less than 2 putts per hole, but still scoring over 100, then you probably should be looking at GIR, fairways, and scrambling. Vice-versa, if you're hitting alot of fairways and greens in reg, then you should probably be focusing on your putting.

The only stat that REALLY matters in this silly game we play, though, is the score, either compared to par or total stokes. :)
Backquak says:
interesting, I wonder the difference it would make between guys with the same handicap. I've played in some tourneys that the 10-12 Hcp flight is quite "diverse" and if we throw out the sandbaggers there would still be a big variety between 1st and last place. But truly if we are at the same level in our games the scores should be closer together at the end, and lots of ties.
robbie.dejarnette says:
Mr. Sweeney makes good points but I still argue that shot accuracy is a BIG stat, whether from the tee, fairway or on the green with putts. I am a super stat geek and am working on a formula that equates drive results with GIR, FIR and strokes equitable to par. Basically, each drive is rated on lie, 0 for FIR up to 5 for having a penalty off the tee, so his example of 1 inch off would score a 1 whereas 40 yds off would score, at best, a 3. I then do some tricky math with all stats and get a percentage that equals your chance of scoring par on a hole when hitting or missing the fairway with +/- area that equals those just off the fairway lies. After 30 rounds the equation holds up and I am going to expand this to my buddies to see if it holds true or if I am too optimistic about my ability to scramble from bad lies. I am also trying to include second and third shots for par 4s and 5s, respectively, and for par 3s, but I need to figure out for when shots go short or long and are BETTER lies than GIR.
mmontisano says:
the only 2 stats that matter and are the most telling of the state of your game are greens in regulation and scrambling percentage.

look at Tiger. he misses fairways all the time but hits greens. and when he doesn't hit the green, his chip is going to be close enough for him to make par. that's why he's leading the TOUR in scoring average.
SingleDigits says:
I find for my game that there's pretty strong correlation between a good round and low # of putts per round (30 or fewer) and/or >= 50% GIR (and 2 or less penalty shots). So if you told me before teeing off on #1 that I'd hit 30 or less putts, 50% or more GIRs and less than 2 Penalty shots, I'd take that in an instant.
woobwoob says:
First Putt Distances, I've developed a spreadsheet that predicts a percentage that I will land X ft away from the pin. 10% that I will be 30 ft or more away, 50% that I will be 20ftaway, 40% that I will be 10 ft away, 10% that I will be inside 5 ft. Before I got the iPhone I used to print out my own OOB scoresheets with a column for Putt Distances (not just first putts). I could say that if I started at 50ft, there was a 80% chance that I would 3 putt. So it helps to know how bad I really am outside 30ft.
cjgiant says:
As for stats that determine round performance, I'd assume you be trying to figure out what stats should you track to improve that would better guarantee better scores. In that sense, errors (penalties and hitting into trouble), GIR, and putting would seem to be the items.

Errors is obvious. No matter where your drive goes, getting on the green with the "regulation" shot is much more important. No matter how well you chip, I bet you would one putt more often than pitching/chipping in. And no matter how often you get on in regulation, if you average over 2 putts, you aren't going to score.
jwilder78 says:
robbie, I like your progressive approach, a sliding scale instead of the typical all-or-nothing stats. Very often I'm juuuusst off the green after my approach shot (I call it a Fringe in Regulation), but I get a fail in my GIR column. This might even be pretty close to the pin, too. I don't have a special formula to track this, but I do put notes on my scorecard to reflect that I hit a solid approach.
nolongerhere says:
I agree with a lot of the above. In general, putts should only be counted into statistics after GIR was achieved. Up-and-downs then should be noted separately.
Bryan K says:
I think the old adage is....I'd rather 3-putt from 60 feet than 2-putt from 5 feet.

Distances of putts made and putts missed is a lot more important than the number of putts. Equally important is how far off the green one is on the last shot before putting. When I'm within 30 yards of the pin but not on the putting surface, I generally expect to go up and down unless I'm in the sand or have an extremely challenging slope.
Banker85 says:
for me GIR is the most telling stat of my round. if i can get it on in regulation than i am 90% of the time walking away w/atleast par. GIR have to get it up!
onedollarwed says:
I have a stat I call Birdie Chance Feet. How many feet away are you when shooting for birdie?
Of course, being in sand or a bad lie in a rough and close may not be the best, but it does reflect gross accuracy. If you shoot in the 70's then your average of BCF per hole is usually less than 50ft.
I'm perfectly happy to jetison fairway% and GIR only because if you study your rounds, the best scores do not corrolate with those stats. Many times being not in the fairway is stategically better, as is laying up.
I also look at long putts made. One way is to keep track of the shortest putt you missed. It shouldn't be less than 6 ft. I keep a stat of ft. of putts made +10 for par and +20 for birdie) Tapping in for par on every hole (the ideal round) gives you 99 (1ft +10=11, nine times) per side. You really lose a lot for missing par putts - and you should.
So... putting yourself in position for birdies on every hole, and when you cna't making long putts to compensate!
Les Page says:
I would have to agree with jessehunt85. GIR for me is the most telling with rare exception. There are days when you aren't really on but close enough that the lag is with the putter from the fringe or a little further with great success.
onedollarwed says:
I looked at your GIR and your scores: since I rarely can believe these kind of simple stat correlations. In fact, we can probably learn more from others looking at our stats. Please peruse mine all you like - it's the power of OOB!
I looked at your last 40 rounds.
Anyway, here is what I see:
In general, your score climbs slightly as you GIR goes up, the exception being a broad change between 16% and 22%.
GIR avg strokes over
0% 22
5.6% 23
11.1% 24
16.7% 23
22.2% 18.1
27.8% 18.3
33.3% 18

To boot, your worst score (+30) was recorded with 22.2%GIR
One of your lowest rounds (+16) was recored with 0% GIR

These obviously are the rare exceptions you're talking about.
So, something happens when you get at least to 22%GIR, but nothing else is significant.
onedollarwed says:
Not trying to be picky, but It's an interesting pattern. It's like saying, If your going to miss a GIR (since you probably will with these low odds), miss in a good spot. Is it coming up short? Perhaps that could be a key to your scoring. Sometimes it's better to miss by more than just a little (small margin misses can find front, rear, or flanking bunkers). What do you think?
onedollarwed says:


As you can see, one of your best scores (+9) was recoreded with only 11.1% GIR (your single worst GIR). Your single best GIR yielded only a +13 score.

It is true, as is with Les Page that once you get to a certain threshold of GIR your score drops precipitously. For you that is getting to at least 44% GIR (+7.3 average). Otherwise, you're better off with only 22.2%GIR or 11.1% GIR.
As is typical GIR guarantees nothing as far as scoring is concerned. It may just describe the course you are playing. Huge greens? A course with wide open driving? When you miss greens how do you miss them? Is there a trend?
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