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Old 05-25-2011, 01:10 PM   #1
ship---this
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Is Drive for Show Putt for Dough really true?

Drive for show, putt for dough. We have all heard it and while it might be true for a scratch to 20 handicap is it true on the PGA Tour? For starters, let me be clear you have to be world class at both ball striking and putting to play on the PGA Tour so this is a peer group amongst each other.

I took the new Putts Gained stat and the GIR stat and put FedEx cup rank and wins for each person. Not sure exactly how to word this to make sense so I will try to graph it. The chart below (hopefully) will show what the average FedEx cup rank is for #1-10, 11-20, 21-30 etc for Putts gained and GIR.


Average FedEx Cup Ranking
Putts Gained GIR
#1-10 44th 48th
#11-20 68 61
#21-30 66 61
#31-40 107 57
#41-50 70 63
#51-60 76 68
#61-70 94 82
#71-80 100 87
#81-90 115 94
#91-100 72 87
#101-110 102 107
#111-120 79 118
#121-130 100 89
#131-140 121 102
#141-150 117 121
#151-160 126 149
#161-170 118 124
#171-180 123 167

Damn it, I can't get it to keep my formatting when cut and pasting from Excel. What I am trying to show is that the #1-10 leaders for the Putts Gained stat has an average FedEx ranking of 44th and the average FedEx ranking for the #1-10 leaders of GIR is 48th. From there the columns get a little close together but I think you can see the trend. The Top 100 FedEx players are consistently ranked higher in the GIR stat than the Putts Gained stat.

Obviously the higher in each statistical category you are the better, but relative to each other the more important stat seems to be ballstriking…at least to be in the upper echelon. Does this mean that putting is much more small sample size and luck? I understand some people are much better putters than others but is it more important to be a much better ball striker than somebody else?

Ok, let’s look at wins.

In the top 32 GIR leaders there are 8 total wins. Top 32 Putts Gained - 7.
In the top 64 GIR leaders there are 15 total wins. Top 64 Putts Gained – 12.

There are only 2 winners outside the Top 100 in GIR while there are 9 in putts gained. This tells me that there are a lot of people who are relatively poor putters that happen to get hot one week and either get really lucky on sample size or just feel great with the putter that week. Conversely there are only 2 people that are outside the Top 100 in GIR that have won. Both of your multiple winners on Tour this year are outside the Top 100 in Putts Gained.
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Old 05-25-2011, 01:16 PM   #2
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Re: Is Drive for Show Putt for Dough really true?

I just always remember people saying "you can't hit it good every day, but you can chip and putt good every day." I don't think I agree with that. I know there are days I don't hit it well, but I think that is all self inflicted. There is a little luck in ball striking, but not much. Sure you can get a bad bounce but that should even out just like bad breaks on the green. My thought is that there is just MUCH more luck involved in a single putt going in than a single shot getting a bad bounce.
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Old 05-25-2011, 01:21 PM   #3
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Re: Is Drive for Show Putt for Dough really true?

agreed. it's much more likely for a great ball-striker and mediocre putter to on the PGA tour than a mediocre ball-striker and great putter.

I'm sure there are a few scratch players who can putt as well as sergio, but there are no scratch players who can hit it as well.
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Old 05-25-2011, 01:32 PM   #4
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Re: Is Drive for Show Putt for Dough really true?

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Originally Posted by ship---this View Post
Drive for show, putt for dough. We have all heard it and while it might be true for a scratch to 20 handicap is it true on the PGA Tour?
Absolutely true for weekend warriors. If not so much for the pros it just goes to show that y'all are playing a different game.
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Old 05-25-2011, 01:38 PM   #5
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Re: Is Drive for Show Putt for Dough really true?

I think the game around the green seperates the players more, than the putting. And together with different ball striking skills and course management, makes the "average putts" a somewhat useless statistic (when marginal)
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Old 05-25-2011, 01:40 PM   #6
Doug Funnie II
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Re: Is Drive for Show Putt for Dough really true?

It would be interesting to redo this analysis with hard numbers rather than just ordinal rankings. I suspect that the relative spread in putting from best to worse is much tighter than the relative spread in ball striking.
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Old 05-25-2011, 01:42 PM   #7
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Re: Is Drive for Show Putt for Dough really true?

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I think the game around the green seperates the players more, than the putting. And together with different ball striking skills and course management, makes the "average putts" a somewhat useless statistic (when marginal)
I didn't use average putts. Agreed, that would be useless. This is based on the new stat developed by MIT that really does show who is the best putters on Tour.

Putts Gained - http://www.pgatour.com/r/stats/info/?02564
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Old 05-25-2011, 01:42 PM   #8
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Re: Is Drive for Show Putt for Dough really true?

I´ll look more into it a little later :-)
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Old 05-25-2011, 01:44 PM   #9
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Re: Is Drive for Show Putt for Dough really true?

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Originally Posted by Doug Funnie II View Post
It would be interesting to redo this analysis with hard numbers rather than just ordinal rankings. I suspect that the relative spread in putting from best to worse is much tighter than the relative spread in ball striking.
I thought about trying this but just didn't want to take the time to get the data straight. I think another good thing to try would be to take scrambling % and somehow use the putts gained stat to figure out who is the best at chipping (if possible) and see how that relates. Saving par via chipping is huge.
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Old 05-25-2011, 01:52 PM   #10
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Re: Is Drive for Show Putt for Dough really true?

I still think it's putt for dough and here's why. If you take the average of the top 100 players for GIR and Putts Gained you get a GIR rank of 70.8 and a PG ranking of 81.2. Then if you look at the top 10 players you would see that yes they are better than the average in both categories, but they are SIGNIFICANTLY better in the PG category.

IMO it would be better to look at it on a tournament by tournament basis. I think generally what you would find is whoever won that week was much more likely to putt a lot better than the field than to have struck the ball much better than the field. On a week to week basis it is almost always better to be an average ball striker that can really putt lights out some days, then to be a better than average ball striker who never really gets hot on the greens.
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Old 05-25-2011, 01:58 PM   #11
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Re: Is Drive for Show Putt for Dough really true?

I can't speak for touring pros or competitive amateurs, but I think the saying holds pretty true when applied to hustling bets. The ability to put it "up and in" is where it's at in hustling. Stroke the mark's ego all day long by letting him hit it 10-20 yards longer. As long as you can keep it in the short grass off the tee, put on or near the green in regulation, and then putt it home, you will clean up. The key to hustling is making them think they are better than you when they really aren't. So yeah, drives are show, but putts make the dough.
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Old 05-25-2011, 01:59 PM   #12
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Re: Is Drive for Show Putt for Dough really true?

I fully agree that each weeks winner will usually be the best in Putts Gained. But that is my point exactly. If you are leading Putts Gained in a specific week you have a much better chance of winning, but year long leaders in Putts Gained don't correlate to success as much as GIR. Thus showing that short term variance, which anyone can have, is more important than actual quality of putter.

Again, I am by no means saying putting isn't important or is all luck. I know that is not the case. I am just saying that the weeks you win you just happened to get a little luckier than normal and have a ton of putts fall. You should make your share over the course of a year, but the week you make 20 putts outside of 10 feet does not mean that is normal or a reflection of your putting ability....nobody putts that well.
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Old 05-25-2011, 01:59 PM   #13
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Re: Is Drive for Show Putt for Dough really true?

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Absolutely true for weekend warriors. If not so much for the pros it just goes to show that y'all are playing a different game.
Not sure I agree. You have any evidence why this is absolutely true?
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Old 05-25-2011, 02:05 PM   #14
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Re: Is Drive for Show Putt for Dough really true?

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Originally Posted by Reckless1der View Post
As long as you can keep it in the short grass off the tee, put on or near the green in regulation, and then putt it home, you will clean up. .
When I think of bad driver, good putter it is not someone who is in the fairway all day but 20 yards behind a good driver.

Basically you are saying play lke a scratch golfer with no weaknesses and you will beat someone who is a bad putter but a little longer than you.

No duh.

As far as hustling, I have no idea, the USGA has a handicapping system that shuld make this impossible for people who use it unless someone is some type of cheating sandbagger.
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Old 05-25-2011, 02:14 PM   #15
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Re: Is Drive for Show Putt for Dough really true?

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Not sure I agree. You have any evidence why this is absolutely true?
Nah, just observational data. Among the better players I know the guys everyone hates to play against are the ones with the better short games. They may give up 20, 30, 50 yards off the tee but it doesn't seem to matter.

That plus being the worst putter I know means I always lose in the first round of our match play bracket.
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Old 05-25-2011, 02:19 PM   #16
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Re: Is Drive for Show Putt for Dough really true?

I'd pay a million bucks (if I could) to be one of the best 20 putters on the planet.
I wouldn't pay anywhere near that to be one of the best 20 ball-strikers.
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Old 05-25-2011, 02:30 PM   #17
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Re: Is Drive for Show Putt for Dough really true?

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Nah, just observational data. Among the better players I know the guys everyone hates to play against are the ones with the better short games. They may give up 20, 30, 50 yards off the tee but it doesn't seem to matter.

That plus being the worst putter I know means I always lose in the first round of our match play bracket.
I guess my beef is distance not affecting scores that much is not the same as driving not affecting scores that much. I will give you the average 10-20 handicapper is probably not more than a 4th of a stroke better from 100 in the fairway than from 150 in the fairway, but on most courses I play the guys I play with are probably at least a half stroke better from 150 in the fairway than 150 in the rough. And then there's balls in the water\out of bounds, etc.

I guess I am probably thinking people are trying to say something they're not, if it's just used as a reminder that the 270 yard drive down the middle isn't making up for a 3 putt from 20 feet, then yeah it's true.

That has nothing to do with whether being a good driver has as big an impact or your day to day scoring as being a good putter does.
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Old 05-25-2011, 02:32 PM   #18
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Re: Is Drive for Show Putt for Dough really true?

Its all putting, look up the stats each week, the winner will be in the top ten in putting over the week almost everytime...he doesn't necessarily have to be in the top ten in driving distance/accuracy....unless its the US Open, where hitting fairways is very very critical. Drive for show, putt for dough FTW
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Old 05-25-2011, 02:35 PM   #19
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Re: Is Drive for Show Putt for Dough really true?

Should be "chip/pitch" for dough
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Old 05-25-2011, 02:39 PM   #20
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Re: Is Drive for Show Putt for Dough really true?

So you choose to include approach shots and other things besides purely the drive itself in the "Drive for show" part of the equation. I have always taken the phrase more literally.

In other words, what do the stats look like when you simply compare driving distance or driving accuracy (or some combination of the two) compared with the putting?

(As opposed to comparing GIR against putting, which I feel is a completely different analysis. I guess it comes down to the question you're asking. Ship, you seem to be asking which is more important, ball-striking in general or putting? My question from the drive for show putt for dough phrase would be purely drive vs. putting. I think that if you looked at only driving itself, putting would easily be shown to be the more important of the two for success, but that is just speculation)
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Old 05-25-2011, 02:44 PM   #21
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Re: Is Drive for Show Putt for Dough really true?

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I'd pay a million bucks (if I could) to be one of the best 20 putters on the planet.
I wouldn't pay anywhere near that to be one of the best 20 ball-strikers.
I understand what you are saying, but am I wrong that is not what the stats above show? I know we are splitting hairs here, all I am saying is that I don't think it is a putting contest. Well, each weeks winner is a putting contest, but each week in isolation is more of a lottery to see who gets a little luckier on the greens.

Where I am going with this is that my strategy of hitting a ton of greens and just trying to get a lot of looks is based on, well getting a lot of looks. In order to make more than your fair share of putts for a week probably requires getting more than you fair share of 20 footers. Is it possible that by having a week that you just hit a lot of greens you have more 20 footers than usual and thus it is possible to get a little lucky and that is in turn what drives your putts gained stat up....could the fact that you have more 20 footers go in merely be a result of having more 20 foot looks? Is this the actual reason a conservative game plan is working so well for me right now? The days I shoot more under par are days just a few more putts than normal fall. But I have eliminated the multiple bogey rounds which in turn keeps the score down.

Chicken or the egg...which one is driving the other in this thought process?

I really think I am on to something here.
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Old 05-25-2011, 02:47 PM   #22
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Re: Is Drive for Show Putt for Dough really true?

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Originally Posted by tschubauer View Post
(As opposed to comparing GIR against putting, which I feel is a completely different analysis. I guess it comes down to the question you're asking. Ship, you seem to be asking which is more important, ball-striking in general or putting? My question from the drive for show putt for dough phrase would be purely drive vs. putting. I think that if you looked at only driving itself, putting would easily be shown to be the more important of the two for success, but that is just speculation)
I should have named this "What is more important? Ballstriking or putting?"

I was just trying to be a little creative...I am 100% not talking about driving distance. I thought that would be obvious given my position I am taking by using GIR for comparison.

Mod can you change title?
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Old 05-25-2011, 02:48 PM   #23
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Re: Is Drive for Show Putt for Dough really true?

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Its all putting, look up the stats each week, the winner will be in the top ten in putting over the week almost everytime...he doesn't necessarily have to be in the top ten in driving distance/accuracy....unless its the US Open, where hitting fairways is very very critical. Drive for show, putt for dough FTW
Yes, I agree that each week individually is putting but my point is that is just variance. I think the stats back that thesis up...don't they?
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Old 05-25-2011, 02:49 PM   #24
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Re: Is Drive for Show Putt for Dough really true?

Seems easy enough to find out, ship ...

Find out what the breakdown is for distances vs putts gained among high-placing competitors.

Edit: I suppose an even better idea might be to compare a player to their own putts-gained average as opposed to the field? If you are trying to figure out how much is variance? and then there is the issue of greens under regulation. I wonder how soon they will add more stats like this so that other parts of the game can be evaluated? Given putts gained, you should be able to do some reverse-engineering?

Last edited by ph2133868789; 05-25-2011 at 03:05 PM.
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Old 05-25-2011, 03:00 PM   #25
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Re: Is Drive for Show Putt for Dough really true?

The problem with the method used in the OP is that the numbers get thrown off by people who are really good in one particular category but are still subpar (by tour standards) in general. I looked at the top 30 players in scrambling percentage. The average FedEx Cup ranking for the top 10 was 32. (The worst of those guys was 79th in the FedEx standings. The next 10 averaged 68th, with 4 of those players being outside the top 100. Players 21-30 in scrambling averaged 68th. There's so much variation I don't know how much you can tell. I'd agree with your general thesis that ball striking is more important than putting, simply because I think the differences in putting are so miniscule. If you look at the numbers over the past couple of years, the best putters gain roughly a stroke over the average, and the worst lose a stroke. So even if the best putter plays the worst, we're talking about two strokes a round. Also, I think the stat may be slightly misleading just because these guys 3-putt so rarely. I don't know the exact numbers, but a 2-putt from 40 feet (by far much more likely than either a 3-putt or a 1-putt) is going to help a player's strokes gained putting stat more than a 2-putt from 20 feet (which is also far more likely than a 3-putt or a 1-putt). I realize this is supposed to average out in the long run, but on a day where you don't make 20-footers, you're going to lose out compared to someone who is 2-putting from 40 feet all the time.

Obviously the 2 strokes a round is significant, but I think it's dwarfed by how well players hit approach shots. If you look the approach stats broken down by starting distance and proximity to hole, the best players' average approaches from 50-125 end up 14 feet from the hole. The worst players are at 25-27 feet. Most players make about 29% or better from 10-15 feet, but move back to 20-25 feet and most players are between 10-20%.

Move back to 125-150 yards, and the best players average less than 20 feet from the hole, while the worst are over 30 feet. Almost everyone makes at least 10 percent of their putts from 15-20 feet, with the best over 30% and many over 20%, but from 30-35 feet, most people are under 10%.

From 150-175, the best are around 24 feet and the worst are near 36 feet. Everyone's average approach distance is between 150 and 175, so this may be the most important category. Let's use 5% as our baseline figure for 35-36 feet, and 10% (which is low, if anything) from 24-25 feet. That means the best approach players are going to make twice as many putts on the average approach shot than the worst approach players. And more importantly, I would assume that the best approach players are going to have a lot more great approach shots (i.e. under 10 feet) than the worst players, and that's what makes the huge difference. The average approach shots aren't that big a deal, simply because the average putter doesn't make a ton of birdies from 20+ feet.

I also decided to look at the Top 10 in the FedEx rankings and see which statistical categories had a lot of players in the Top 10s of both the FedEx Cup and that particular stat.

GIR-3
ball striking (GIR+total driving)-3
scrambling-3
strokes gained putting-2
proximity to hole-2
total driving-2
driving distance-1
driving accuracy-1
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