This will be my last Numbers Game for a while. I've got a few things taking up my time and will be stepping back. I'll be doing a review or two and hanging around, but The Numbers Game will be in the hands of another person come January.
That being said, I thought it would be good to hit some of the highlights over the past year and a half. This week it's the best of The Numbers Game.
Distance vs. Accuracy
One of my first columns was spent looking at the two driving stats. One of the questions I asked was "Do longer and less accurate drivers make more money than the shorter and more accurate drivers?" What I found out, at least last year, was interesting.
Longer and less accurate drivers do average more money, but not by much. Even the number of players that were above the median earnings was only a few more on the longer side of the equation. At this point, I was just scratching the surface of what I was digging into…
The 40-30-20-10 Rule
What I really wanted to find were the most relavent and most important stats that controlled a players success or, somtimes, failure. I spent a bit of time looking at the individual statistics and it always came back to greens and putting. So I came up with the 40-30-20-10 rule.
It worked initally for some individual tournaments, but it was pretty true for the entire tour as well. It isn't just a fluke, the rule fit. It also fit for the LPGA Tour and the and the Champions Tour as well. Not only is it not a fluke, it's universal to golf.
Johnnie Miller, I think, coined the phrase "flogging" soon after Tiger came on tour. He doesn't appreciate the golfers that fly the ball 300 yards, rough and all manner of trouble be damned. Miller and others complain about this "Bomb and Gouge" technique that has seemingly become popular on tour.
The thing is, there really isn't much we can do about these players or their type of play. I don't know if we need to though. Looking back at one of my columns, flogging really doesn't make much of a difference when it comes to performance. The guys hitting it over 300 yards don't hit many more greens and they also don't it much closer to the pin.
Flogging, bomb and gouge, whatever you want to call it…it may work for some players, but not for everyone. Miller contends that it makes courses shorter and, because of square grooves, easier to gouge it out of the rough and hit it close. The numbers don't support his claim. Flogging is one way of attacking the golf course, but not the only one.
Probably some of the most fun I have in writing these articles is breaking down the play of the players around the world. In some instances, it's comparing the players of today to those of the past. When Tiger reached 50 wins I took a closer look at his career to date against Jack's. Tiger is certainly on a pace to overtake Jack, but Nicklaus' major performance is even more impressive than I ever thought it was and, in some ways, is better than Tiger's.
You might think it's easier to break down a player when their game is on, but I don't know if that's the case. It's obvious to see that Sergio is struggling with his putting, but tracking other stats show that Sergio could be deadly if he ever put it all together at the same time. Not many players can say they've been at or near the top, at some point, in driving, greens and putting.
The Numbers Game will be in the hands of someone else come January. We're not sure who that will be, but if you're interested, just drop Erik an email. There are a lot of numbers in the game of golf and I've only scratched the surface. I might be back later to dig into them a bit more later, but I think the next person won't have any problems finding material…