I always find it funny when people laugh off certain statistics, saying, “Who cares how many fairways I hit today, I shot 79!”  Or, the opposite like, “Wow, I only had 24 putts today,” but when looking at their other stats shows you see that they only hit 5 Greens In Regulation.  Every statistic means something.  If your number of putts was low, how many Greens In Regulation did you hit?  If you hit 80% of the fairways but only half of the Greens In Regulation, what does that tell you about your iron game?  Oh, you got up and down 8 out of 9 times, nice work.  But, that means that still means that you missed 9 Greens In Regulation.  All statistics tell you something, and all are meaningful and should be analyzed if you want to improve your game.

The hottest new PGA Tour statistic is Strokes Gained Putting.  Why do you need some fancy new statistic to tell you how well you putted?  You should be able to just count how many putts you had, right?  Not so fast.  What if you hit a bunch of Greens In Regulation?  Should you have the same number of putts as someone who hit half as many and was just chipping it close every time?  Exactly.  According to PGATour.com, “Strokes Gained-Putting is computed by calculating the average number of putts any PGA Tour 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.”

Whoa, stick with me here, that may have been confusing but here’s simply what it does.  For example, the average number of putts for a PGA Tour player to hole a putt from 7 feet 10 inches is precisely 1.5.  If a player one-putts from that distance, he gains 0.5 strokes.  If he two-putts, he loses 0.5 strokes.  If he three wiggles, he loses 1.5 strokes.  A player’s strokes gained or lost are then compared to the field.  So, if a player gained a total of 3 strokes over the course of an entire round and the field gained an average of 1 stroke, the player’s “Strokes Gained-Putting Against the Field” would be two.  Catch my drift?  To learn more about Strokes Gained-Putting and what it’s doing for the PGA Tour, click here.

So, how effective has the statistic been thus far?  Well, Luke Donald lead the statistic’s rankings this season on the PGA Tour.  Yep, I’d say it’s working pretty well.  A naysayer?  Steve Stricker was 2nd for the season, yeah he had an ok season too.

Yep, Tim Tebow does win games, no question about that.  But, eventually completing only 2 passes by the end of the 3rd quarter catches up to you.  You have to throw the ball down the field to win long-term!  Same can be said about golf statistics.  You may fire a score well below your handicap one day where you salvaged par after par with ups and downs galore, but long term, it’s going to come back to bite you.  We all certainly don’t have access to something super fancy like Strokes Gained-Putting, but begin charting your stats to point out strengths and weaknesses to learn from them, and watch your game improve.



Joel Harrington