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Skill Ratings

Sep. 29, 2005     By     Comments (1)

How can you rate skills? PGATour.com tried recently but it doesn't make sense. Power, Accuracy, Short Game and Putting can and should be measured differently.

The Numbers GameI'm still a little disturbed. This has nothing to do with last week, but something our editor passed to me recently. Thanks Erik, I appreciate it.

It has to do with a little graph at the PGA Tour's Presidents Cup player information website. Hopefully you will see what is wrong with it. If not, well, even if you can read my take and agree or disagree.

Here is the graph for Tiger and explanations of the categories. You can find the rest at the PGA Tour's website.

skill_ratings_tiger.bmp

One of the first rules in graphing is clarity. This is my first beef when looking at this display. I see a pretty graph, but what it truly means is vague. The explanation of each category is too short and how the PGA Tour came up with the ratings left for anyone to guess. Sure, it looks nice, but I want a graph to have a good deal of meaning and validity behind it. I don't get that feeling when looking at the pretty red, blue, green, and yellow bars above.

So the graph doesn't explain itself that well. Let's take a look next at the explanations and see if what PGATour.com uses makes some sense. If not, maybe there is a better way.

Power
Power is "Distance off the tee," according to PGATour.com. Other than driving distance, there isn't much else statistically to tell how powerful a player is. One consideration I would make and suggest is to use one of the newer stats: Going for the Green (GFTG). What this stat tells us is what percentage of the time a player attempts to drive a par 4 or hit a par 5 in two where it is a viable option. Check the link out for more of a clarification. So not only could we use driving distance as a factor, but how many times a player uses his power to their advantage to lower their score. I probably would not emphasize GFTG as much as driving distance, but it would definitely be a factor.

Accuracy
This is probably where I think that they dropped the ball. First of all, please take a look at Tiger's ranking again… a 10 according to PGATour.com. Is Tiger an accurate player? With his irons, yes. With his driver, no. Tiger is ranked 181st in driving accuracy, but the PGATour.com gives him a 10 in accuracy? Huh? The website says they used "Accuracy of tee shots" but how in the world is he ranked as a 10 then? Give me a break.

I would definitely rank iron play and GIR much higher than driving accuracy. Especially given the importance we have found in the past of GIR. I believe that PGATour.com did the same but did not weight driving accuracy nearly as heavy as I thought they should. Anyone ranking near the bottom of an accuracy stat should not be a 10. Sorry Tiger.

Short Game
This is probably the best of the four. Using proximity of hole from 125 yards and in is good. I might want to see that pulled down to around 75 yards and in, but now I'm getting a little picky. Scrambling is a great stat to use because it combines not only chipping and bunker play, but a bit of putting as well and how good a player is at recovering from a missed green. Even though putting will be its own category, it does have a small part in the short game area and scrambling is one way to include it. "Bunker play" is a bit vague. I would hope that most of that would be sand save percentage as it also uses a bit of putting as well. Again, the description of this category is vague.

Putting
Vague, vague, vague. I hate to use the word so much. Partly it's because my spell checker doesn't like that, but mostly because it bothers me. "Putting from various lengths and conversion rates." OK, so does this mean that they are not using putting average, the benchmark for ranking putters on tour. I would hope so, but based on the description, who knows. Also, putts per round is not mentioned either. Just looking at this and how it is worded, I would probably revamp this using those two stats because they encompass most putting situations.

What to Do?
I am glad that the PGATour.com put rankings out there. I've always been a numbers/stats junkie and like this stuff. My only wish is that they would put a little more thought into it so it would have some real meaning. I don't want any website or organization to put something out there that is misleading and untrue. That is why I'm talking about this.

So I'm thinking that I'm going to have to come up with some formulas for next week for those readers that are saying "OK Dave, you do it then." I'll give it my best shot. I encourage others out there to post a comment about what formulas they might come up with for accuracy, power, short game and putting. I'd like to get some ideas and write about them. Hopefully next week it won't be me that is misleading all of you.

Discussion

  1. [... I'm still a little disturbed. This has nothing to do with last week, but something our editor passed to me recently. Thanks Erik, I appreciate it. It has to do with ...]

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