05-26-2011 , 02:00 AM
The 50/50 point for a 1-putt is about 8' (7'-10").
The point at which a 2-putt is "expected" is 33 feet. From this distance, 88% of the time it takes 2-putts, 6% of the time it takes 1 putt and 6% of the time it takes 3-putts.

So if a PGA Tour pro can figure out a way to land his approach shots 8' from the pin instead of 33' from the pin, he would shave 9 strokes off his round. Sick! I hope that's right. 18x2= 36 putts from 33'. 18x1.5=27 putts from 8'. That's incredible.

Landing the ball that much closer is a lot harder than it seems though, since a 33' radius from the pin gives you a 3,400sq.ft. landing area whereas an 8' radius from the pin gives you only a 200sq.ft. landing area. Obviously this is simplifying the equation but the point remains it's a significantly smaller landing area the closer you want your line to be to the hole.
05-26-2011 , 02:19 AM
I think Dave Pelz talked a bit about this in his short game bible, did anyone else read this? I forget the exact methodology but he broke it down into short game (100ish yards and closer), long irons/driving, and putting and measured relative skill in those vs. money earned on tour. Where skill was basically "percentage error" for the driver/irons/wedges in like if you meant to hit a 200 yard shot to a certain spot but it was 20 yards aways from the target that would be 10% error.

Cliff notes was that driver/long skills are weakly correlated with \$\$\$, putting is moderately correlated, and wedge play is strongly correlated.

I think the reasons have been discussed a bit by Pelican, but basically good chipping/pitching/short approach shots can partially negate iffy long shots and putting but far less so for the vice versas. Every single foot that chip/pitch/bunker/short approach comes closer to the hole it adds huge stroke equity since putt make percentage drops off exponentially as you get farther from the hole. Being just a little closer against an exponential curve is so key since it that exponential curve acts a skill multiplier. Meaning getting 10% closer on your wedge/long chips/bunker shots on average doesn't mean you have 10% better up and down percentages, but maybe 20%. I made those last 2 numbers up, don't know what the real ones are, but you get the point.
05-26-2011 , 02:36 AM
Tried to edit my post but it's too late. Anyway I guess circumference is better to use instead of landing area since we're talking average distance.

The 33' line gives you a circumference of 207.2' linear. The 7'10" line gives you a circumference of 49.2' linear. So assuming you're aiming at the pin, you will only end up on the 7'10" line about 19% of the time (49/256), and you'll end up on the 33' line about 81% of the time (for the purpose of this example only/clarity). I'll round the numbers to 80/20

So for 3.6 holes (20% of the time) you'll have 1.5 putts per for a total of 5.4 putts.
For 14.4 holes (80% of the time) you'll have 2 putts per for a total of 28.8 putts.

For a grand total of 34.2 putts per round. This number looks high because I'm only looking at putts from either 8' out or 33' out, for simplicity. And because it doesn't include hole-outs and chip ins from off the green (0 putts).

So if your approach shots were 5% more accurate, (in this example assume that means 5% more likely to land on the 8' line) your total putts would be 33.75. So getting 5% more accurate would only shave off about 1/2 stroke per round.

If your approach shots were 10% more accurate your total putts would drop to 33.3 so you'd shave off about 1 stroke per round.

15% more accurate approaches and your total putts would be 32.85 so you'd shave 1.35 strokes per round.

So it seems you have to get appreciably more accurate with your approach shots to begin to see a decent lowering of your score. This is because, unless you hole-out from off the green, you will always have 1.0+ putts. A 6" putt is still a stroke.

I would assume it's just about impossible for a PGA pro to suddenly get 15% or even 10% more accurate with his approach shots. If he does, he can enjoy saving 4+ strokes over the course of a tourney.

Note: These numbers are probably wrong
05-26-2011 , 02:40 AM
So you're saying the players with better wedge EV will exponentially increase their putting EV? This is why I never work on putting. I just need to hit shots closer to the hole.
05-26-2011 , 02:48 AM
It's not exponential. It's not even linear. The problem with wedge accuracy is that, unless you hole out, it's not as beneficial as it would seem. Because each and every putt, no matter how close, costs 1.0 strokes. And practicing holing out is not a feasible endeavor for mere mortals.
05-26-2011 , 02:55 AM
That response was supposed to be for Peeda, sorry.

We're talking about putting EV, though. Yeah, each stroke is a stroke, but the closer you get it on your approach, the better stroke EV you have on your putts. Wedge accuracy is huge. If one guy hits it to 20 feet on average and one guy hits it to 10, the guy at 10 feet will still average way less putts unless he's a complete fish on the greens.
05-26-2011 , 03:03 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by tzwien
So you're saying the players with better wedge EV will exponentially increase their putting EV? This is why I never work on putting. I just need to hit shots closer to the hole.
LOL, my theory too.

But it might be stupid. I have always thought about putting as the most simple thing, but the part with the highest variance, and never focused that heavily on it. But I also have to face the fact that good variance never hit me with the putter. Years ago I had a round of 27 putts. I have not broken 30putts since, and this can hardly be marked down as a downswing over years.

But my God putting practice is boring.
05-26-2011 , 03:13 AM
I have some rounds where I run good and have 27 putts while still hitting like 14 greens. Most of the time I'm around 34 putts if I manage to hit that many greens, which doesn't happen unless I'm A+'ing the **** out of my game.
05-26-2011 , 03:30 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by prohornblower
It's not exponential. It's not even linear. The problem with wedge accuracy is that, unless you hole out, it's not as beneficial as it would seem. Because each and every putt, no matter how close, costs 1.0 strokes. And practicing holing out is not a feasible endeavor for mere mortals.
Alright exponential was a bad word to use maybe but its very non linear. Stroke expected value from good wedge play has little to do with holing out, its about getting close. If you have a 30 -> 75 yard pitch or chip, a little better is the different between getting it within 6 feet vs. 3 feet consistently.

3 feet and in most people should make most all putts. Then in the 4->10 foot zone each foot lost is much worse than the last one lost till slowing down a bit again. At 6 feet decent amateurs make like half, pros more but still miss quite a bit. 95->100% to save a stroke vs 50->70% is big.

10->40 feet accuracy gets so low you don't have as much hole out percentage points to lose so it starts to level out again. So its sort of an backwards S curve, whatever those are called in math.
05-26-2011 , 03:53 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by prohornblower
Tried to edit my post but it's too late. Anyway I guess circumference is better to use instead of landing area since we're talking average distance.

The 33' line gives you a circumference of 207.2' linear. The 7'10" line gives you a circumference of 49.2' linear. So assuming you're aiming at the pin, you will only end up on the 7'10" line about 19% of the time (49/256), and you'll end up on the 33' line about 81% of the time (for the purpose of this example only/clarity). I'll round the numbers to 80/20

So for 3.6 holes (20% of the time) you'll have 1.5 putts per for a total of 5.4 putts.
For 14.4 holes (80% of the time) you'll have 2 putts per for a total of 28.8 putts.

For a grand total of 34.2 putts per round. This number looks high because I'm only looking at putts from either 8' out or 33' out, for simplicity. And because it doesn't include hole-outs and chip ins from off the green (0 putts).

So if your approach shots were 5% more accurate, (in this example assume that means 5% more likely to land on the 8' line) your total putts would be 33.75. So getting 5% more accurate would only shave off about 1/2 stroke per round.

If your approach shots were 10% more accurate your total putts would drop to 33.3 so you'd shave off about 1 stroke per round.

15% more accurate approaches and your total putts would be 32.85 so you'd shave 1.35 strokes per round.

So it seems you have to get appreciably more accurate with your approach shots to begin to see a decent lowering of your score. This is because, unless you hole-out from off the green, you will always have 1.0+ putts. A 6" putt is still a stroke.

I would assume it's just about impossible for a PGA pro to suddenly get 15% or even 10% more accurate with his approach shots. If he does, he can enjoy saving 4+ strokes over the course of a tourney.

Note: These numbers are probably wrong
The measurements were all distance from hole, the circumference or whatever, which makes sense I think. Using 8+ feet and 33 feet isn't too useful since from out there it doesn't matter too much anyways, you're probably going to 2 putt. Go from 3 feet and 8 feet and you EV inreases rapidly was my point. I don't think modeling this scenario is that simple because its not simple linear algebra here. Shots will fly in toward their target I guess on some sort of normal distribution. Then that normal distribution gets multiplied by the putt EV at various distances. Would need to tinker around in MATLAB or R or something for a day to model. Its really not something that'll just be intuitive automatically though.
05-26-2011 , 08:34 AM
Here is what I was talking about yesterday

Starting on page 17 through 26 he basically covers all the data that answers these questions.

On Tiger

Quote:
The strokes gained approach gives direct insight into where Tiger Woods gained the 3.20 strokes
per round. Table 1 shows that 2.08 strokes came from the long game (rank 1), 0.42 strokes from
the short game (rank 16), and 0.70 strokes from putting (rank 3). Tiger dominates the competition
because he excels in every category, but his long game contributes 65% (2.08/3.20) to his total
strokes gained relative to an average ﬁeld. Many people have commented on Tiger’s superior
putting, and the strokes gained analysis is consistent with this observation: he is ranked of third
with a gain of 0.70 putts per round. However, his gain from putting is less than the 1.01 strokes
he gains between 150 and 250 yards from the hole, and comparable to his long tee shots, where he
gains 0.70 strokes per round versus the ﬁeld.
On short versus long game on the PGA tour

Quote:
Many people claim that the short game and putting are the most important determinants of golf
scores. For example, Pelz (1999, p.1) writes, “60% to 65% of all golf shots occur inside 100 yards
of the hole. More important, about 80% of the shots golfers lose to par occur inside 100 yards.”
Several academic studies have reached similar conclusions. In contrast, strokes gained analysis of
PGA TOUR data shows that the long game is the most important factor explaining the variability
in professional golf scores.
For a single golfer, the relative contribution of each skill category can be assessed directly by
comparing strokes gained by skill category. Across golfers the relative contributions can be assessed
using variance and correlation analysis.
I think long game is still more important until you can eliminate most penalties and flubs and be around the green in regulation most holes. Basically a 10 handicapper or so. Then short game is more important. Then at the pro level the long game is the differentiator again. Even guys like Donald and Furyk are in the positive in the long game compared to an average tour pro. Good chart on page 24 showing the dispersion. Obviously without shotlink data for amateurs you can't run the numbers in the same way and really know.

Last edited by BadBoyBenny; 05-26-2011 at 08:43 AM.
05-26-2011 , 08:39 AM
I don't know if im over simplifying things a little but I tend to agree with the posters that believe the short game (100 yards or less) has a greater impact overall with putting than a long drive?
I know from my own game I constantly out drive people i play with but the better player will end up being closer to the pin from 150 than me from 100 (which is very frustrating)
I could only assume the people on tour who are constistly getting it close are going to have better putting stats than the guy with the 40 foot putts?
05-26-2011 , 08:45 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by CdnSweets
I don't know if im over simplifying things a little but I tend to agree with the posters that believe the short game (100 yards or less) has a greater impact overall with putting than a long drive?
I know from my own game I constantly out drive people i play with but the better player will end up being closer to the pin from 150 than me from 100 (which is very frustrating)
I could only assume the people on tour who are constistly getting it close are going to have better putting stats than the guy with the 40 foot putts?
The putts gained stat accounts for how close you are
05-26-2011 , 09:24 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by CdnSweets
I don't know if im over simplifying things a little but I tend to agree with the posters that believe the short game (100 yards or less) has a greater impact overall with putting than a long drive?
I know from my own game I constantly out drive people i play with but the better player will end up being closer to the pin from 150 than me from 100 (which is very frustrating)
I could only assume the people on tour who are constistly getting it close are going to have better putting stats than the guy with the 40 foot putts?
As stated earlier I was just trying to be creative with the thread name. My entire thesis is based on ballstriking. I don’t think a long drive matters more than short game. I should have named the thread “what is more important….ballstriking or putting on the PGA Tour?”

And yes as BadBoy said, the Putts Gained stat takes distance into account. That is why you don’t even find the Putts per GIR stat on PGA Tour.com anymore…it is a useless stat if you don’t know how far the putts were from.

Last edited by ship---this; 05-26-2011 at 09:31 AM.
05-26-2011 , 09:31 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by DeathDonkey
This is a very good post I think.

ship--this maybe I am changing the point of the thread a little, but my intuition is that none of it really matters, the stats reflect the results and not vice versa. It's no surprise the guy that wins the tournament on sunday has really damn good stats for that week, its a logical implication.

It seems like guys that reach PGA tour level will always have a style that works, meaning the shorter guys have amazing short game and ability to hit long irons / hybrids / 3 wood or whatever with very good accuracy. The bombers probably have outstanding wedge play, etc.

From all the stuff I've read by you and about you, you are a world class driver of the golf ball - awesome - so it goes without saying that your score is largely going to be determined by your wedge play and scrambling on par 5s. Maybe I'm oversimplifying to the point that its no longer useful, but I guess I don't see what the debate really is, you aren't going to start hitting the ball shorter on purpose are you?
Obviously yes you are right that on a week to week basis the winner will have great stats. But my point is that the year long stats show that ballstrikers win more than putters. Yes you have to putt great the week you win, but there are times – Sean O’Hair somewhere – where they don’t make a putt over 15’ and win. Yes the guys who reach the Tour generally have a strength that outweighs and is typically opposite of their weakness…short guys scramble, long guys are bad putters, etc. When you combine them all in a person you get the best player in the world and there, by definition, isn’t very many of those.

I agree wedge play is where my \$\$ will come from. I think what I am trying to decipher is whether or not my putting is adequate on a Tour level and I should spend ALL of my time on wedge play to get the ball closer to a makeable putt as there is a huge gain by hitting it inside 6 feet vs. inside 15 feet. I do think my stroke is workable and repeatable and that I will improve in leaps and bounds by getting a better read on it as I have often thought and Spenda seems to confirm.
05-26-2011 , 09:48 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by ship---this
With regards to best putters in Ryders Cups etc. is that maybe because it is easier to recognize great putting strokes than great ball strikers swings? I am thinking that there is a ton of perception involved in thinking who is a great putter purely because of the pureness of stroke and rhythm. Where as great ball strikers can look ugly but get it done. Like 2 Gloves...I am not going to say he is a great ballstriker just yet, but he is 23rd in total driving and 39th in GIR. That is pretty damn good, but perception based on how it looks would be that he is scrappy, which just isn't the case. However, slowed down his action through the ball is INCREDIBLE.

Obviously the wins I have had and stages of Q School etc that have been successful have either been good weeks of putting or weeks that I was lucky and bombed the driver dead straight on all par 5s. That is what happend at 1st stage last year when I played the par 5s 12 under and everything else only 3 even though the rest of that course if fairly easy also. Good drives don't leave much most of the time....which brings me to.....

I would think his leading the GIR is as much a product of his length as much as anything else. He hits it so far it is pretty tough to miss the green assuming he is in play at all.
I'm not referring to the looks of the putting stroke, or the looks of the swing.
Results is all that matters.
I've had many folks say my putting stroke looks great when I knew I couldn't make it in a barrel.
But the more I think about it, the more I think my beliefs are jaded by my own history.
I've had weeks, months even (rarely), when I could do whatever I wanted with the ball. Supreme confidence in getting it around from tee to green.
Not so much with putting.
And,
without great distance off the tee, I think superb ball-striking is less a winning factor.
With great length, a great driving week (as you had first stage Qschool) can bring the course to it's knees and make it possible to win with a merely decent week of putting.
However, driving it 280 down the middle of every (PGA Tour) hole doesn't guarantee success. It's a great start obviously, but with only a decent week of putting, you may see only decent results.
I've played a ton of golf with guys that hit 30 (and sometimes much more) by me, and there are just many more birdie opportunities if they drive well.
Playing against them for 18 holes is usually a losing bet. 72 holes gives me a better chance.
A typical season of mini-tour golf might have me beating them 15 out of 22 weeks, but making less money than they do.
Their best was just better than my best.

No doubt length is the biggest reason Bubba is leading the GIR.
He's gonna hit more greens with a SW from the rough than the Luke Donald is gonna hit with a 6iron from the fairway.

As to putting being a lottery-
it is to some degree, but some player's hot week isn't in the ball park with other's.
Mickelson is a great example. Some weeks he's below average, but when he's on, he's remarkable.
Not true with Joe Durant. When Joe is playing with confidence, he is in complete control of his golf shots. But his best putting week (of the season) wouldn't be in Mickelson's top 10.
05-26-2011 , 10:22 AM
I think we have to remember how different golf is when played by high-handicappers and by touring pros, and that what's "important" to one group isn't necessarily as relatively important to the other.

Quote:
I think long game is still more important until you can eliminate most penalties and flubs and be around the green in regulation most holes.
I was about to disagree, but then I looked at some of the papers again (especially this one: http://www.pgatour.com/stats/academi...v-20080428.pdf ), and yeah, you're right. I also thought to myself, would I rather hack it around and let a pro hit everything from inside 100 yards, or would I rather let a pro hit everything from outside 100 yards? I'll let the pro hit the long ones and do the short ones myself.

Also, for the sake of the experiment, I think the next time I get out to my course and it isn't crowded I'm going to play one ball off the tee until I get inside 100 yards, then give myself either a shot+two putt or an up-and-down (or a one-putt or two-putt if I hit the green), depending on how close I am, how good the lie is, bunker/rough/fairway/fringe, etc.; then I'll drop another ball 300 yards from the tee in a perfect spot in the fairway (or on the green for a par-3) and see which score is better. Hell, for the couple of holes where a 300 yard drive wouldn't get me within 100 of the hole, I'll let the "pro" hit those for me too. I'm going to make him lay-up on the par 5s, though, as I think both of them would be pretty tough to hit in two. (One is 566 yards long from the whites and has a small, elevated green guarded by bunkers and a pond short and left, the other is 500 but has water directly in front of the green.) Also, I know a lot of pros hit it way farther than 300, but I'll take the trade-off since my hypothetical pro is hitting every single fairway. And I guess I could just drop onto every green in regulation--why not let my "pro" hit approach shots, even if they're less than 100 yards out--but then I know I'd shoot pretty damn close to par--I'd 3-putt a couple, I suppose, but I'd break 80 easily and this wouldn't be interesting at all.

To get back to the tour guys: Everyone's short game is so good that there simply aren't enough strokes to be gained around the green. For example, with putting, the very best and worst putters are usually gaining or losing 1 stroke compared to the average player. But if you get rid of the 20 best and 20 worst putters (out of the roughly 200 or so on the list), everyone else is within half a stroke of the average. So 80% of golfers are within 1 stroke of each other. On the other hand, the vast majority of golfers have scoring averages ranging from 70-73 shots per round. So that's 3 strokes of difference. Putting is accounting for a third of the scoring difference.

If you look at this paper: http://www.columbia.edu/~mnb2/broadi...e_20110408.pdf , the top 10 putters gain roughly anywhere from .6 to .7 strokes per round, the top 10 short game guys gain .5 to .7, and the top 10 long game guys gain 1.1 to 2.1 shots per round (exclude Tiger from that sample and it's 1.1 to 1.6). That's about as conclusive as it gets for the pros.
05-26-2011 , 11:33 AM
I don’t know what I am trying to establish or think anymore, but I just compiled these for fun not knowing where I was going with my train of thought. I didn’t realize they ran the stats for all the new putting stats back to 2002 from the data they have on file. I just took 2008-2011 and checked out total average for4-5 feet, 5-6 feet, 6-7 and 7-8.

For 4-5 feet there were 62,697 putts and 50,395 were made averaging 80.37%
For 5-6 feet there were 48,063 putts and 33,575 were made averaging 69.85%
For 6-7 feet there were 40,139 putts and 24,074 were made averaging 59.97%
For 7-8 feet there were 35,433 putss and 18,368 were made averaging 51.83%

The best 1,000 putts from 4-5 feet were made at 92% and the worst 1,000 were made at 67%
The best 1,000 putts from 5-6 feet were made at 84% and the worst 1,000 were made at 54%
The best 1,000 putts from 6-7 feet were made at 77% and the worst 1,000 were made at 43%
The best 1,000 putts from 7-8 feet were made at 68% and the worst 1,000 were made at 34%

There were 1.19 attempts per round from 4-5 feet
There were .91 attempts per round from 5-6 feet
There were .76 attempts per round from 6-7 feet
There were .67 attempts per round from 7-8 feet

So…when I put all that together I come up with:

From 5 feet the worst loses .16 shots to an average PGA player per round and the best gains .14 shots
From 6 feet the worst loses .15 shots to an average PGA player per round and the best gains .13 shots
From 7 feet the worst loses .13 shots to an average PGA player per round and the best gains .13 shots
From 8 feet the worst loses .12 shots to an average PGA player per round and the best gains .11 shots

Anybody want to tell me what to do with this info? I am a little cross eyed right now....
05-26-2011 , 12:20 PM
I had some free time this morning at work so I decided to take a quick look at some FedEx cup stats.

I looked at FedEx cup points per event played, average driving distance, % of drives in the fairway, and putts gained to perform my analysis. I assumed all metrics were normally distributed.

Some quick observations:
- Bubba Watson really is an incredible driver of the golf ball. His Total Driving Z Score (defined as (driving distance - tour average driving distance)/ St. Dev of Tour Driving Distance + (driving accuracy - tour average driving accuracy)/St. Dev of Tour Driving Accuracy) is 3. The next highest guy, JB Holmes is ~1.87. The difference between Bubba Watson and JB Holmes is about the same as the difference between JB Holmes and Matt Kuchar. However I think this is probably due at least in part to the fact that driving distances are likely not normally distributed.

-Mike Weir is twice as bad at driving the golf ball as Bubba Watson is good (relative to their peers, of course).

-John Merrick and David Toms are really good at both driving and putting.

-Of the top 5 guys in terms of points per event (Luke Donald, Charl Schwartzel, Nick Watney, Bubba Watson, and David Toms) all of them are in the top 30 for total driving + putting. FIGJAM and KJ are # 6 and #7 respectively, and frankly their driving + putting scores kind of suck. This could indicate that they do a lot of the stuff between the drive and getting to the green extremely well (true), or that they have 1-2 solid performances and a bunch of mediocre ones, but given the distribution of how points are awarded, their point totals are artificially inflated above expectation.

Now how do these Z scores translate to predicting who has the highest fed ex cup points per event? Honestly, I'm not sure because I didn't look at any other variables yet, so it's hard to get a grasp of the significance of the effect. Overall it appears that an improvement in total driving by 1 Z score (so adding 8.3 yards off the tee at no reduction in accuracy, or adding 5.8% to your driving accuracy at no reduction in distance, or some combination of the two) leads to around 11.5 more fedex cup points per event played. By comparison, a 1 Z score improvement in putts gained (increase of .43) would predict a 9.1 point improvement in points per fedex cup start. Both regressions are statistically significant at the 1% level, however both still have relatively low predictive powers as the R squared coefficients are .178 for driving and .110 for putting.
05-26-2011 , 12:33 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug Funnie II
I had some free time this morning at work so I decided to take a quick look at some FedEx cup stats.

I looked at FedEx cup points per event played, average driving distance, % of drives in the fairway, and putts gained to perform my analysis. I assumed all metrics were normally distributed.

Some quick observations:
- Bubba Watson really is an incredible driver of the golf ball. His Total Driving Z Score (defined as (driving distance - tour average driving distance)/ St. Dev of Tour Driving Distance + (driving accuracy - tour average driving accuracy)/St. Dev of Tour Driving Accuracy) is 3. The next highest guy, JB Holmes is ~1.87. The difference between Bubba Watson and JB Holmes is about the same as the difference between JB Holmes and Matt Kuchar. However I think this is probably due at least in part to the fact that driving distances are likely not normally distributed.

-Mike Weir is twice as bad at driving the golf ball as Bubba Watson is good (relative to their peers, of course).

-John Merrick and David Toms are really good at both driving and putting.

-Of the top 5 guys in terms of points per event (Luke Donald, Charl Schwartzel, Nick Watney, Bubba Watson, and David Toms) all of them are in the top 30 for total driving + putting. FIGJAM and KJ are # 6 and #7 respectively, and frankly their driving + putting scores kind of suck. This could indicate that they do a lot of the stuff between the drive and getting to the green extremely well (true), or that they have 1-2 solid performances and a bunch of mediocre ones, but given the distribution of how points are awarded, their point totals are artificially inflated above expectation.

Now how do these Z scores translate to predicting who has the highest fed ex cup points per event? Honestly, I'm not sure because I didn't look at any other variables yet, so it's hard to get a grasp of the significance of the effect. Overall it appears that an improvement in total driving by 1 Z score (so adding 8.3 yards off the tee at no reduction in accuracy, or adding 5.8% to your driving accuracy at no reduction in distance, or some combination of the two) leads to around 11.5 more fedex cup points per event played. By comparison, a 1 Z score improvement in putts gained (increase of .43) would predict a 9.1 point improvement in points per fedex cup start. Both regressions are statistically significant at the 1% level, however both still have relatively low predictive powers as the R squared coefficients are .178 for driving and .110 for putting.
How much free time did you have at work!?!?!?!

I am going to lunch and practice and absorb all this....thoughts later.
05-26-2011 , 12:43 PM
It's significantly more difficult to land the ball closer to the hole such that you gain many strokes putting.

Let's look at balls that land within 4 feet of the cup, and balls that land between 4-8 feet of the cup.

There are 50 square feet to land the ball within 4 feet of the cup.
There are 151 square feet to land the ball between 5-8 feet of the cup.

I'll use the following stats, which may be off a little:
0-1 feet 100% (rounded)
1-2 feet 98%
2-3 feet 95%
3-4 feet 90%
4-5 feet 80%
5-6 feet 70%
6-7 feet 60%
7-8 feet 52%

I'll break each putting point down to square feet for simplification.
Landing inside 4 feet means you've got 50 unique square feet to putt from.

From within 1 foot, 3 chances x 100%
From between 1-2 feet, 9.5 chances x 98%
Between 2-3 feet, 15.5 chances x 95%
Between 3-4 feet, 22 chances x 90%

Between 4-8 feet you've got 151 unique square feet to putt from.

From between 4-5 feet, 28.5 chances x 80%
Between 5-6 feet, 34.5 chances x 70%
Between 6-7 feet, 41 chances x 60%
Between 7-8 feet, 47 chances x 52%

For this example I will assume all missed putts end up as 2-putts.

So within 4 feet you'll have 50 attempts (unique square feet) and 53.2 total putts for an average stroke of 1.06 putts at any point within 4 feet.

Between 4-8 feet you'll have 151 unique attempts, and 206 total putts for an average stroke of 1.36 putts from any point randomly falling between 4-8 feet.

So you'd gain about .3 putts per hole landing within 4 feet as opposed to between 4-8 feet. About 5-1/2 strokes per round.

The problem is that it's significantly more difficult to land within 4 feet as opposed to between 4-8 feet. Anyone got stats on this? I'm guessing you're about 3x as likely to land within 4-8 feet as you are within 4'. But that's only based on SqFt, which isn't going to be a direct correlation. It might be close, that close to the pin though.

I'd like to know what % of holes are holed out from off the green, if anyone knows that.
05-26-2011 , 12:54 PM
Honestly, the write up took longer than the analysis. The whole thing took about 45 mins, mostly because I'm really fast in excel and the data is easily available.

There are definitely some factors that limit the validity of what I looked at. I already hinted that the distribution of driving and putting may not be normal, and although I'm not attempting to make any probabilistic inferences as to the likely of various outcomes, computing the Z scores like I did may be very slightly biasing the data. A bigger issue is likely how the fedex cup awards points, and if I were to do it again I would just use scoring average as the dependent variable instead of fed ex cup points per start, because scoring is what we're really interested in. Also I don't remember some of the finer points like what the correct degrees freedom are for this scenario, but given the large sample size that makes almost no difference.
05-26-2011 , 01:47 PM
Once I saw z-scores, I decided this thread is over my head.
05-26-2011 , 02:33 PM
PHB--I don't know the numbers, but I'm betting that a pretty large chunk of putts from 8 feet and in are the results of either other putts or of chips/pitches after missing GIR.

I don't think any golfer can expect to hit a bunch of 120 yard shots to 4 feet, but I do think there's a pretty big disparity between best and worst from 50-100 yards, and that this makes a difference. For example, from 50-75 yards the best player (Phil, unsurprisingly) hits his shots to an average of 6'7". Most players are between 10 feet and 20 feet, but several are over 25, even 30 feet. Some of this is the very small sample size, but there's still quite a bit of disparity. If you look at 50-125, the best are under 15 feet and the worst are in the mid-20s.

I just realized that the PGA Tour site has figures for average distance to the hole after a shot from around the green (i.e. off the green but within 30 yards of it), which eliminates the problem of the scrambling stat including things such as a punch-out from the trees after an errant drive. The best players are at 6 feet, the worst are at 9 feet. Odds of making a 9-footer are probably 44% or so. Odds of making a 6 footer are something like 65%. Huge, huge difference there. Assuming 6 missed greens in a round, the bad scrambler averages two or three makes, and the great scrambler averages close to four. That's potentially two shots right there. I do think people can work on the short game (i.e. the under 30-yard game) to the point where they can get more 4-footers and fewer 8-footers, and getting into 90% range versus 50% range is obviously enormous, much more important than hitting full wedge shots to 15 feet instead of 25.
05-26-2011 , 03:46 PM
Good point. I looked up average distance from hole after all green approach shots and the best are around 32' from the hole and the worst about 42'.

So the best would then expect about 2.0 putts to hole out but I'm not sure about the worst. Don't know the expected putt total from 42'.

And yeah that's a pretty big disparity between the best and worst from around the green that you posted. Those who chip to 6 feet should expect to hole out with 2.35 total strokes (chip and 1.35 putts) and those who chip to 9 feet should expect to hole out with about 2.56 total strokes. So that's .2 strokes per hole where you miss the green. Again, not sure what the expected putts are from 42' but if we knew that we could see the value in proximity of all GIR approach shots, too.

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