All posts tagged PGA Tour

New Stat for Measuring Putts… ‘Putts Gained Per Round’

New Stat for Measuring Putts

The Wall Street Journal’s John Paul Newport (Golf Journal) did a story about a new way of measuring putts.  Sure that sounds odd, but it is just because golf hasn’t come up with cool stat names like baseball has (OBP, WHIP, etc.).

The traditional way measuring putting skill among the world’s best golfers is  “putting average” which measures the number of putts that a player takes per round when his ball lands on the green in regulation.

Newport points out “Not only does this approach exclude about 30% of putts attempted on the PGA Tour (those made on greens not reached in regulation), but it also rewards the accuracy of shots into the green as much as it does putting skill.”

One example he provides is of someone who lays up and then chips to a one-putt.

Apparently, none of the current statistics take into account the relative difficulty of the greens played. “Players who compete on a higher percentage of courses with tricky greens, such as at the majors, get a bum deal,” he said.

Throw some MIT researchers (Sloan School of Management) and some computing power (care of PGA Tour’s technology partner, CDW) and what do you get?

A metric called “putts gained per round.”

It starts with creating a baseline from which the golfers will be measured.

  • From 10 feet, the average number of putts that Tour pros take is 1.63.
  • At around 30 feet, the putts-to-go average starts exceeding two. From 40, the average is 2.15.
  • Then there is an adjustment for difficulty of the green.

The model compares the results of each putt a pro takes to the expected putts-to-go average on that particular green by a hypothetical average field If a player holes a 15- footer whose value is 1.82, he gains .82 strokes on the field. If he needs two putts, he loses .18 strokes on the field. At the end of the round, the model adds up all the pluses and minuses to produce the net putts-gained statistic.

Cool huh?

Newport noted that Luke Donald was the best putter in 2009 based on this stat.  Tiger Woods showed favorable numbers too.

It is nice to see the PGA Tour “smartening” up when it comes to offering meaningful stats for such a key aspect of the game.

The complete story can be found here (subscription required).