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Great Golf Stat Crunching Articles
By kickntrue on 8/11/10
Slate.com is running a series of golf articles all week called, "Moneygolf." They are long reads- but if you're not too busy- they well worth your time. The title of the series, as well as the general idea behind the articles is how current golf stats are misused and how better analysis and the capture of stats that really matter could help our games in ways we currently cannot conceive (like the book MoneyBall did for baseball). I wouldn't even know where to start with describing some of the stuff they talk about- but here are a couple cool quotes from today's article on putting to entice you.
The poster boy for the difference between MIT's putts-gained-per-round rankings and the standard stats is Ernie Els. From 2003 to 2008, the South African star ranked 15th in the PGA Tour's putting average. During that same period, he ranked 283rd in putts gained per round—his -0.63 mark means he gave back six-tenths of a stroke to the field each 18 holes with his substandard putting.

In this case, the putts gained per round stat matches what golf fans see with their eyes: Els is a wonderful iron player but a poor putter. The reason Els' putting average is so strong, the MIT team explains, is that—on account of his great iron shots—his "first putt" distance is two feet shorter than the average pro. Putts gained per round strips away those approach shots and reveals the truth: Ernie Els is an elite player despite his putting, not because of it.
Want to take a wild guess who's putting HELPED his game the most? It's not a trick question.
The MIT study also confirms a fact that, until this year, was a given in golf statistics: the ridiculous dominance of Tiger Woods. From 2003 to 2008, he ranked first in both putting average and putts gained, bettering the field by seven-tenths of a stroke per round with his putting alone. To put that in perspective, if Tiger was paired with Ernie Els, Ernie would give up almost a stroke and a half to Tiger on the greens.
Linked below are the first 3 articles in the MoneyGolf series- with 3 more to come over the next days. I can't wait!

Putting Article (Pt 3)
Slate.com MoneyGolf Pt 1
Slate.com MoneyGolf Pt 2



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