Between Shotlink and the endless rambling of golf announcers, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the game is positively drowning under a deluge of statistical info. But what if I told you that, no, there was room for one more statistical category, one that could steamline the current putting stats and eliminating all those annoying GIR-related inaccuracies that blight the system? A pipe dream, you’d say– the stuff of idealistic fantasy!
But no! This is one dream that’s become a reality. I present to you the “Strokes Gained-Putting” index:
Developed by Professor Mark Brodie of Columbia Business School and a team of statisticians from MIT, the Strokes Gained-Putting is as impressive in concept as it is grammatically unsound in title. According to the PGA Tour website, it works thusly:
“The statistic is computed by calculating the average number of putts a PGA TOUR player 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.
For example, the average number of putts used to hole out from 7 feet, 10 inches is 1.5. If a player one-putts from this distance, he gains 0.5 strokes. If he two-putts, he loses 0.5 strokes. If he three-putts, he loses 1.5 strokes.
A player’s strokes gained or lost are then compared to the field. For example, if a player gained a total of three strokes over the course of a round and the field gained an average of one stroke, the player’s ‘Strokes Gained Against the Field’ would be two.”
Complexity aside, the early data looks really encouraging. The strongest putters, guys like Greg Chalmers, Steve Stricker, Nick Watney and Fred Jacobson, are all hovering around the positive end of spectrum, right where you’d expect them, whereas the lower end of the scale is clogged with precisely the kind of frustrated ballstrikers and leaderboard absentees you’d expect– the Camilo Villegas’s, Boo Weekleys and Ernie Els’s of the world. In fact, the news for Ernie is particularly bad: he’s actually propping up the 185-man list.