Getting too into stats can be bad.
The Problem With Stats
By Kickntrue on 9/4/07
I was listening to a radio interview with David Toms this afternoon and he talked about the importance of certain statistics to the players and how important their equipment is to helping with those key stats. The problem with his statement is that with the exception of scoring average- stats rarely tell the whole story.

While I think certain metrics are important to golf, I don't think the sport is quite like baseball where stats run the game from fantasy geeks to front office gurus. Here are a couple interesting stats to look at from the 2007 season on the PGA Tour and how that compares to the bottom line- in this case scoring average, money earned and the FedEx Cup standings. I used the Stat's Page for all of my data.

Scoring Average
This is a good base to use for everything that follows. It is reasonable to believe that the people who average the best scores week in and week out are the best golfers on the PGA. You'll find a striking similarity between this list and the only list that really matters.

1 Tiger Woods
2 Ernie Els
3 Justin Rose
4 Vijay Singh
5 Phil Mickelson
6 Jim Furyk

Total Driving
Here are the Top 5 on the PGA Tour in Total Driving which is a ranked determined by taking a golfer's distance ranking and adding it to their fairway percentage ranking. The lower your number- the better you are in total driving.

1 Charles Warren
2 Hunter Mahan
3 Matthew Goggin
4 Jeff Overton
5 Sean O'Hair

As a point of reference

T14 Boo Weekley
53 Tiger Woods
T64 Jim Furyk
T110 Phil Mickelson

I included Boo Weekley because he's known as a bomber on tour. I think it's clear to see where I'm going with this.

Greens In Regulation (GIR)
GIR is the percentage of times you end up in green setting yourself up for a birdie putt (non-technical easy way to put it). Here is the top five in GIR.

1 Jeff Gove
2 Tiger Woods
3 John Senden
4 Briny Baird
5 Alex Cejka

I could pull one of them out of a lineup anyway.

Ball Striking
This may be my favorite golf stat that means nothing. I'll concede that it's no one stat that determines how good you are but the synergy of your entire game. The Ball Striking stat attempts to create that. It is your GIR number added to your Total Driving. The lower your rank in those categories the better your ball striking rank. It seems like a valid assumption that because you are using driving and GIR that gets your ball to the green- leaving only putting. Here's the top 5 in ball striking along with some other notable names.

1 John Senden
2 Jeff Overton
3 Charles Warren
4 Matthew Goggin
5 Briny Baird

T22 Tiger Woods
29 Jim Furyk
T41 Adam Scott
53 Vijay Singh
T90 Phil Mickelson

I wanted to cover the putting stat last because we've had heated discussion on our site about the importance of putting to your game. Here are the "best" putters on the PGA Tour based on the stats.

1 Tim Clark
2 Brian Gay
3 Jose Maria Olazabal
4 Aaron Baddeley
5 Kevin Na

16 Sergio Garcia
29 Phil Mickelson
T90 Tiger Woods

The point of this exercise is not to bash stats and what they mean for golfers. If that was the case oobgolf wouldn't be around. The point is simply to keep everything in perspective to the final goal which is to shoot the best round possible as consistantly as possible. If you shoot a personal best score while hitting 0 greens in regulation that is better than hitting 10 greens and still having a net score above par.

[ comments ]
falcon50driver says:
There are 3 kinds of people.....Liars...Damn liars....and statisticians.....I love what you have done with the statistics...Gives me another excuse for not breaking 80...
golfray says:
You are right, there are 3 kinds of people....those that are good at math, and those that aren't....
klangdon says:
kickntrue, what is scary about that picture. is that i see some resemblance to yourself... ha.
rhysm says:
Reading Pelz's short game bible was a revelation a year ago.

He argues that the only meaningful measure of whether a golfer will be successful is their ability to score from 100yds and in. Ball striking has zero correlation, and putting had only a very weak positive correlation.

Instead, it's all about a golfer's error rates from <100yds. As long as one is a competent putter and a competent ball striker, it's the short game that separates people.
[ post comment ]
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