Monday, May 2, 2011

The Most Ridiculous PGA Tour Stat Ever

Greens in regulation, okay. Fairways hit, fine. Strokes Gained-Putting? Just stop it.

Apparently, the PGA Tour will not rest until you need an advanced mathematics degree. At some point the statistics for victories per year and lifetime will be unimportant to the tour.

Here is an edited version of the press release with some of my comments.

The PGA TOUR today begins to present player putting efficiency in a more accurate, meaningful way by introducing Strokes Gained-Putting as a new primary statistical category.

Developed initially by Professor Mark Broadie of Columbia Business School and further analyzed in collaboration with a team from Massachusetts Institute of Technology led by Professor Stephen Graves, Strokes Gained-Putting measures a player’s putting performance relative to his fellow competitors in a tournament and will offer a more accurate portrayal of his overall putting performance.

While ShotLink, powered by PGA TOUR technology partner CDW, has provided a wealth of putting data to determine proficiency from various distances, the primary overarching putting statistic continued to be Putts Per Round, which simply measures the average number of putts a player takes over 18 holes and can be skewed by chipping close to the hole after missing a green.

(Soon we'll see the Strokes Gained-Chipping statistic. AP)

Strokes Gained-Putting, however, takes into account putting proficiency from various distances and computes the difference between a player’s performance on every green – the number of strokes needed to hole out – against the performance of the other players for each round. This ultimately shows how many strokes are gained or lost due to putting for a particular round, for a tournament and over the course of a year.

The statistic is computed by calculating the average number of putts a PGA TOUR player is expected to take from every distance, based on ShotLink data from the previous season. The actual number of putts taken by a player is subtracted from this average value to determine strokes gained or lost. For example, the average number of putts used to hole out from 7 feet 10 inches is 1.5. If a player one-putts from this distance, he gains 0.5 strokes. If he two-putts, he loses 0.5 strokes. If he three-putts, he loses 1.5 strokes.

(Of course, this rating system does not take into consideration the difficulty of the putt. A putt from six feet that breaks a foot is given the same value as a putt from the same distance that breaks an inch. AP)

A player’s strokes gained or lost are then compared to the field. For example, if a player gained a total of three strokes over the course of a round and the field gained an average of one stroke, the player’s “Strokes Gained Against the Field” would be two.

While it is being introduced today, Strokes Gained-Putting tracks players’ performance back through the 2004 PGA TOUR season, since it is based on ShotLink data that already has been collected.

Entering this week, Nick Watney leads the category, gaining an average of 1.215 strokes on the field per round with Brandt Snedeker second at 1.132.

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