Do You Keep Putting Stats?
We've been doing a deep dive into PGA Tour player statistics which is allowing SCOR Golf to identify those golfers who are most in need of improvement in their proximity to the hole in the shorter ranges — 9-iron on in to the hole. This has been a very interesting exercise, as we've learned a lot about just how good these guys really are, and how much difference there is between the top-ranked players and those in the 175-200 rank in each category.

As we define the proximity to the hole from various yardages for each player, we can then compare that to their one-putt percentage from each 5-foot range category to see just how many strokes they could save if they moved their approach shot accuracy to the next bracket, i.e. from a 22' average to a 17-18 foot average. It's kind of like the movie "Money Ball", applied to golf.

So, doing this has given us a much more acute focus on just how good these guys are with the approach clubs and putter. From what we see on TV, it appears that they all knock the flags down with most approach shots and that they make everything. Realize that what you are being shown on TV, however, are just the great shots being hit during the telecast, and mostly focused on those few players near the lead. It would be boring television if they showed all the shots, regardless of where they ended up, wouldn't it?

The point of that explanation is to ask you if you keep your putting stats on a round-by-round basis. And which stats do you keep? The old "method" was to simply keep track of the number of putts, but that is so misleading. A golfer who hits 13-15 greens and has 31-33 putts might not have had that bad a putting day. Like the golfer who had a bad chipping/pitching day and left himself consistently in the 15-25 foot range — you're just not going to make many of those.

What we've learned from our dive into PGA Tour statistics is that what you should really know is how many putts you make from various ranges. On the PGA Tour, for example, the "typical" pro only makes 1% of their putts outside 35 feet! And the one-putt percentage is generally linear from there, in that the one-putt percentage roughly doubles for each 5-foot bracket closer to the hole, i.e. 30-35 feet it goes to 1.5-2.5%, 25-30, 4-5%; 20-25', 8-10%; 15-20, 15-17%; 10-15', 30-33%; 5-10', 45-60% and inside 5', 90-95%.

Understand that these stats are all over the place, and I'm talking about general trending. The more you know about your own one-putt percentage from these various ranges, the more you know where you need to spend your time on the practice green.

Or working on your short range approach shots and chipping/pitching/bunker skills to simply put it closer to the hole.
The Wedge Guy is sponsored by SCOR Golf, where Terry Koehler is President/CEO. He encourages you to submit your questions or topics to be considered for his columns on Tuesdays and Fridays. Each submission automatically enters you to win a SCOR4161 wedge to be given away monthly. Click the button below to submit your question or topic today.


[ comments ]
jasonfish11 says:
I have a freind who basically did the same thing you are sugesting (he is a statistician). He set up a website that imports OOB stats and compares my stats (along with a couple other people) to the stats on the PGA tour.

His site results in us getting a putts saved stat, an approach shots saved stat, and a drive saved stat.

To get this I have to record my score on the hole. The club I used off the tee. My approach shot length. Only if I have a realistic approach shot in regulation (ie 2nd shot on a par 4 and 2nd or 3rd on a par 5 that doesn't require going over a tree or out of thick rough). The number of putts I have and my 1st put distance.
3/26/13
 
jasonfish11 says:
Interesting thing that we've learned from his site.

Most players (no matter their handicap) will lose a little over 2 times more strokes per round on their approach shots than their putting.

For example my average driving strokes lost is around 3 stokes/round. My putting strokes lost is around 3 strokes/round. My approach shots lost/round is 8.

Over the last year my handicap has gone from an 18 to an 11 because I've worked on my iron play. I've dropped that number from about 12 to an 8 stokes lost/round.

Now there are some problems with his site as in it doesn't take into account course rating and length. But it wasn't made to compare how good of a golfer you are to how good the average tour pro is. It was made to compare those 3 specific parts of your game to te average touring pro given the same situation.
3/26/13
 
bkuehn1952 says:
I wish some researcher would spend a year collecting data on amateur golfers from scratch to 30 handicap and create a data base. As an "8" it is more important to me to learn how I differ from a similar playing amateur who is a "5" (by similar I mean a person you can hit about the same distance). Assuming my goal is to be a "5", learning what areas in which to improve to better mirror the "5" makes more sense than to attempt to model my game after a PGA Tour-type player.

For example, a PGA-type sand save % is 50%. I am around 25%. What is a typical "5"? If the "5" is around 25% then my sand game is pretty sound. If a "5" is 40% then I need some work. If I compare myself to the PGA I might spend a lot of time in the bunker without much payback.
3/26/13
 
jasonfish11 says:
@bkuehn.

If you compare you stats as Strokes gained/lost per round to the PGA pro you will see where your biggest weaknesses are.

Assume you hit 2 bunkers per round and from those bunkers it takes you a combined 7 shots to get in the hole. If a tour pro averages 50% sand saves (2 strokes), lets assume the other 50% of the time they get up and down in 3 shots.

So you have just lost 2 shots per round in the sand.

Now if you are studying your other shots the same way and see that you lose 2 shots/round putting, 1 shot/round driving, and 6 shots/round with your approach shots.

Then this still shows you where you need to improve.

In this case your approach shots are costing you 3 times the strokes that your sand play is. Even though in a 1 to 1 comparison your sand game is terrible in that example. But since you dont hit that many bunkers it isn't costing you too many strokes over the course of 18 holes, compared to other areas.
3/26/13
 
bkuehn1952 says:
I understand. I would prefer to compare my game to a "5", not the PGA Tour. I don't think my game compares well to the PGA Tour. If I aspire to be a "5", discovering where the "5" gains his/her strokes is where I want to focus my effort.

Perhaps it is all linear and where I lose strokes compared to the PGA Tour is the same as where I lose strokes to a "5" who averages 220-230 off the tee. It would be nice to know that for certain but there is not a lot of published research done at the amateur level. Maybe Dave Pelz?
3/26/13
 
jasonfish11 says:
So in that example you are losing 1 stroke to a tour pro every time you hit the ball in a bunker.

Where as you are losing only .33 strokes to a tour pro each time you have an approach shot (assume you have 18 approach shots in a round).

That doesn't mean you should spend more time practicing in the sand.

If you look at that stat and decide you wanted to practice your bunker play until you are as good out of the bunker as the average pro. You will drop 2 strokes off your game.

If you decided to have the same dedication to your approach shots you would wind up dropping your score 6 strokes.

The goal is to understand the weakest part of your game. Then try to improve it to where some other part of your game is now the weakest and repeat.

I would guess for 99% of amatures iron play (approach shots) are the weakest part of our game.
3/26/13
 
legitimatebeef says:
How did people ever manage to play good golf without the benefit of computers? We are so lucky. :\
3/26/13
 
jasonfish11 says:
@beef
I love your outlook. You always find the silver lining. lol
3/26/13
 
GBogey says:
@bkuehn - Shotbyshot.com is a service that I believe does a lot of this. I don't know how much it costs, but I have seen their results published in articles and this was helpful to me in determining what to work on when I was in the 90's trying to break 90. I now track several stats based upon a golf magazine article ( www.golf.com/instruction/how-break-80-your-six-w - the stats were provided by shotbyshot.com - trying to break 80 more often.
3/26/13
 
GBogey says:
For the typical amateur golfer, I think that there are only two putting stats that matter - percent of short putts made and 3 putts. For short putts I track 2.5-7.5' because that is easy to measure for me, 1-3 strides, but you could say 2-10' or something similar just as well. I also split 3 putts into bad 3 putts, meaning from 25-30' and in, and reasonable 3 putts +30'. To me the longer 3 putts is a problem with approach shots, not just putting.
All the rest doesn't really matter, I'm not going to realize it in my score if my 20' percentage goes from 2% to 4%.
3/26/13
 
joe jones says:
Too much input for the five inches of bone between my ears. I count putts, period. If I three putt(not often) I get pissed. When I putt well I score well. When I don't I score OK.I am comfortable with my putting so I don't want to over think it.
3/26/13
 
onedollarwed says:
yes... but not really. I keep track of scoring shots - whether putts or not. I estimate the distance in feet, and add 10 for par, 20 for birdie. This weighted scoring shows me what I need to know. The number of putts of an individual round doesn't tell me much. Or rather, more putts usually means more GIR. Fewer putts is often a reflection of great wedge play. What I want to know is if I'm converting pars or better. All putting has to be measured in context.
3/26/13
 
onedollarwed says:
I've come up with some unique ways of measuring putting. Here's one: what's the third shortest putt you miss in a round? One number. You get two stupid misses a round, but the third should tell you something. If it's 3 feet or less, practice that range. Practice that range from that distance until it goes up. After the round go to the putting green and practice that distance until you get 10 in a row, before you're allowed to go to the bar. Man up!
3/26/13
 
Tim Horan says:
My putting stats are as OOBGOLF score inputs. Number of Putts this linked with GIR stats generally give me stats on how good my approaches are. My putting stats of 1.6 putts per hole look good on paper but missing the green and chipping on for a tap in distorts all the analysis. LIES and STATISTICS!
3/27/13
 
onedollarwed says:
The "rub" is that which ever way you choose to keep track, beyond emotional responses and course effects, means that you care and are giving yourself a chance to analyze part of your game. But what do you want to know?
Typically, most measures of golf tell you a) how hard the course is, and b) how your skills were that day in general. But those things you already know - so you need to have a valid question, and triangulate your results to answer your question. It's basic science. How can you measure a new piece of equipment, a bike say, by comparing the results of a day you felt great and full of energy, versus hill climbing on a day you felt lousy into the wind? That data and the related emotional response would be worthless.
However, golf is always played in context and that needs either be included, or ruled out.
3/27/13
 
joe jones says:
The old saying is figures don't lie but lier's can figure. I think it was a reference to crooked accountants.
3/27/13
 
onedollarwed says:
One great debate that Michael Lewis lays out in "Moneyball" the book, is the statistical fact that there is no such thing as clutch performance; that statistically, a batter's post season or world series stats could be anomalous until they trend towards a batter's career stats in the end.
In golf we create our idea of the shot and then execute (more or less). Is the idea or the execution lacking? That's where we need to start. There's no pitcher and no defense. I often catch myself with faulty thinking on the course - a problem that could be helped with a caddie, or a regular partner. Better decisions throughout the round have led to better scoring, and better putting stats!
3/27/13
 
joe jones says:
Look up Yogi Berra's career stats. I think he averaged over .400 in the 8th and 9th inning with men on base for his 18 year career.That included World series at bats. In my opinion the greatest clutch hitter ever.Wonder what Michael Lewis thinks about that feat?
3/28/13
 
jasonfish11 says:
There are multiple factors that could make his batting average better in late innings that have nothing to do with him being "clutch."
1) He could have gotten use to the pitcher (seen more balls thrown).
2) Maybe it took him a while to get loosened up.
3) Pitcher Fatigue. (Back in the day there weren't as many "relief pitchers")
4) Last but not least to Michael Lewis's point I would guess that even over an 18 year career you still wouldn't have needed sample size for his stats to converge with their true mean.
3/28/13
 
DoubleDingo says:
Putting I 1-2 putt most everything with an occasional 3 and a very rare 4 putt. Back in 2007 I developed a spread sheet that had 20 scorecards. The scorecards had everything I could think of for tracking; i.e. Club off tee, ball flight(straight, left, right, duff, draw, fade, etc.), FIR, GIR, chipping, putting, pars, birdies, bogies, double-bogey, triple-bogey, other(blow-up holes) with graphs for each item, and it calculated my handicap too. I stopped using it because my weakness is the same then as it is now, chipping and pitching. I lose sometimes 4 strokes on a hole because of chipping/pitching. Drives me crazy and makes the round very tense/anxious which compounds the problem.
4/1/13
 
DoubleDingo says:
I do still keep track of club off the tee, FIR, Penalties, Sand Shots, and Putts.
4/1/13
 
onedollarwed says:
I wish Bill James was a golfer. But the main idea is that depending how/where you play, and how/when you keep stats, who knows what you're really measuring. A big issue is sample size as well. One day's stats might tell you only that you played a really hard course.

I would say that first off, you need to separate stats for stroke and match play. Second, stats in genuine live rounds need to reflect how they contribute to your score (context). Otherwise, you might as well putt in a laboratory setting.
4/4/13
 
[ post comment ]
Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

Click here to learn more about Terry.
Click here to for Terry's blogroll.
 
    Golf Talk
Most Popular:

Subscribe