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What’s Your Favorite Stats to Use?


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On 7/26/2020 at 10:17 AM, Vespidae said:

I've thought about this a lot since I first posted. I read Mark Brodie's paper and sorted through all sorts of websites to get a good idea of leading indicator stats that would not just track my game, but help me understand if my strategy is working. 

Brodie made two important contributions. First, he said, forget GIR. Yes, it is THE ONE metric worth tracking but ... greens aren't consistent in size and they vary course to course. Second, he said what separates amateurs from professionals (other than distance) is consistency. (Hank Haney said something similar.)

So ... here's what I'm going to start tracking ...

  • Median FRL (Fractional Remaining Length) ... the % proximity to the hole from the approach shot.
  • 1st Putt Distance ... I have to record this anyway, but I average 18.1 feet from the hole and my goal is to always be within 30. If I am, I will two putt. 
  • Number of Awful Shots ... Brodie wrote that reducing this has the greatest impact on higher handicap players. Haney said the same ... eliminate 3-putts (which I will from 30 ft),  2 chips, and penalty shots. No need to track all the variations ... just the number is fine. 

So that's the system ... Record the Approach Shot Distance, Third Shot (which should be the first putt) Distance, and the Number of Awful Shots. This will provide a way to objectively measures ball-striking and consistency. 

Thoughts?

(PS - once FRL is < 6% ... Brodie suggested that is when you focus on length off the tee.)

I agree with Brodie's comment to forget GIR, but not because of green size consistency. The weakness of the GIR stat is because it is a combination/hybrid stat that measures off the tee performance and approach performance together. If you have a low GIR%, you can't see whether it is because of poor tee shots or because of poor approach shots. Strokes gained is better because it separates the two and provides visibility of each area separately. But I also think SG has some weakness too becuase it doesn't provide enough granularity to pin point exactly where your problem lies. Its good for pointing out the general area of weakness, i.e. putting, but beyond that, what else does it tell you. You need other more specific measures to narrow in on the problem, like whether its my short, medium or long range putting that is contributing to a low SG putting.

So, I like the fact that you have gone away from traditional measures like FIR, GIR, U&D and Putts and moved to stats that are more meaningful and granular. I track 7 stats that have some similarity to yours.

  1. Good enough tee shots - so long as my tee shots give me an open look for my next shots (i.e. fairway or green) from a reasonable lie, I consider that 'good enough'. This replaces the FIR, which I think is too precise for the average golfer, and I use this to determine the health of my tee shots. 
  2. Par 3 GIR% - I use this as a measure of my approach shot health (i.e. typically irons) because I always have a perfect lie, unobstructed view and no excuses. I have granularity of this by club and distance to help pinpoint strengths and weaknesses.
  3. Approach shot proximity - this is a secondary health measure for you irons/approach shots. So even though you may be hitting all the greens, the more you focus on getting closer and closer, then better.
  4. # of Big Misses - this is the same as your Awful shots right from Brodie
  5. Chip Shot proximity (50 yds) - This is an indicator of short game health. Over time and with practice, I have been able to see my average chip shot proximity go from about 16ft avg to under 12 ft from all lies, sand, and distances. Its very specific, visual and understandable vs. strokes gained. 
  6. Lag Put Proximity - the biggest difference between handicap levels is lag putting from 30ft+. My target is 3-4 ft or less.
  7. % Short Putts Missed - biggest other biggest difference between various handicaps is their ability to hole short putts <5ft consistently. My target is to be 95% or better here.

These stats cover all the bases for me. Step 1 is to give myself open looks at the fairway/green more often with the tee shot (Stat 1). Step 2 hit greens more often with approach shots and more precisely (Stats 2 and 3). Avoid big misses (stat 4). When I miss greens, get as close to the hole as possible with the chip shot (Stat 5). When I'm on the green, lag putt well (stat 6) and hole short putts consistently (stat 7). When I focus on these, all the other stats seem to fall in line.

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When I hit a high number of GIR's, I rarely have a bad round, compared to my typical game.

GIR, nGIR and average club hit into the green (Yep, I keep track of that)...

I go by the "Dammit" rule for putting.  You know when you miss a putt you should have made.  And then you utter it.   5 "Dammits" a round puts me in the "Crap" category for putting.  Zero "Dammits" an

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I like strokes gained. ... who doesn't?

But for a quick and easy how'd you play sort of stat. GIR's seem to correlate very well to score. 

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Just now, ChetlovesMer said:

I like strokes gained. ... who doesn't?

But for a quick and easy how'd you play sort of stat. GIR's seem to correlate very well to score. 

SG is valuable, but as I said, its not granular enough for me. Same goes for GIR, many studies have shown that GIR does correlate to scoring. But again, it's too generic to help pinpoint specific problems, so it is deficient in that regard.

So, in my opinion, it really depends on your desire to improve as to what stats are good enough. If you are recreational golfer who is more interested in fun and the social side of golf, looking at basic stats like FIR, GIR,etc may be good enough. But if you have a strong desire and intent to improve, detailed stats are a key element towards that effort and you will need more than just GIR and even SG.

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11 minutes ago, Luv2kruz said:

SG is valuable, but as I said, its not granular enough for me. Same goes for GIR, many studies have shown that GIR does correlate to scoring. But again, it's too generic to help pinpoint specific problems, so it is deficient in that regard.

Nobody's saying any differently, but the correlation is relatively strong AND the ease of "calculation" is awfully low. If you were to make a ratio out of that, GIR (or GIR+nGIR) would be high on the list.

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15 minutes ago, ChetlovesMer said:

GIR's seem to correlate very well to score. 

For me, GIR and near-GIR are the only stats that I closely track and care about, because I agree, they have the strongest correlation to scoring.

My Shotscope watch tracks all sorts of other stats as well, but I don't really need to see these to know where my strengths and weaknesses are. I look at them out of curiosity, but they don't provide any more actionable data than GIR/nGIR. I like knowing my strokes gained numbers, but they tell me what I already know, that my approach play is where I need to improve (full swing).

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15 minutes ago, Luv2kruz said:

So, in my opinion, it really depends on your desire to improve as to what stats are good enough. 

I respectfully disagree. 

I spent years tracking the minutia. But it really wasn't all that useful to me from one round to the next. At the end of the season it's great to look at. It can help guide your off season practice schedule. Having said that, once the season starts here, my only goal is first get the ball on the green in as few shots as possible. Then once that task is completed get the ball in the hole as in as few putts as possible. 

I try to work hardest on the aspects of my game that have the highest separation value. I don't really need any of my personal stats to tell me what that is. 

After that, I try to stay healthy and maintain/improve my flexibility. Rounds played becomes a very important stat to me at some point. 

10 minutes ago, Darkfrog said:

For me, GIR and near-GIR are the only stats that I closely track and care about, because I agree, they have the strongest correlation to scoring.

My Shotscope watch tracks all sorts of other stats as well, but I don't really need to see these to know where my strengths and weaknesses are. I look at them out of curiosity, but they don't provide any more actionable data than GIR/nGIR. I like knowing my strokes gained numbers, but they tell me what I already know, that my approach play is where I need to improve (full swing).

This 

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15 minutes ago, ChetlovesMer said:

I respectfully disagree. 

I spent years tracking the minutia. But it really wasn't all that useful to me from one round to the next. At the end of the season it's great to look at. It can help guide your off season practice schedule. Having said that, once the season starts here, my only goal is first get the ball on the green in as few shots as possible. Then once that task is completed get the ball in the hole as in as few putts as possible. 

I try to work hardest on the aspects of my game that have the highest separation value. I don't really need any of my personal stats to tell me what that is. 

Exactly

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To answer the question in the topic title… score? 🙂

I'm being somewhat facetious as I already answered the question on page 1.

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26 minutes ago, ChetlovesMer said:

I respectfully disagree. 

I spent years tracking the minutia. But it really wasn't all that useful to me from one round to the next. At the end of the season it's great to look at. It can help guide your off season practice schedule. Having said that, once the season starts here, my only goal is first get the ball on the green in as few shots as possible. Then once that task is completed get the ball in the hole as in as few putts as possible. 

I try to work hardest on the aspects of my game that have the highest separation value. I don't really need any of my personal stats to tell me what that is. 

After that, I try to stay healthy and maintain/improve my flexibility. Rounds played becomes a very important stat to me at some point. 

This 

There are lots of stats that have strong and poor correlation to scoring. Here's a table from one of the articles that I read on the subject that illustrates. FIR, for example, correlates poorly, while GIR has a strong correlation. Perhaps the 'minutia' you were tracking were stats that have a poor correlation and that's why they weren't useful too you.

I am a firm believer in the value of detailed stats and their role in driving improvement in one's game. Their diagnostic and monitoring capabilities are invalulable throughout the season, not just for a year end review. If were as simple as measuring just GIR and nGIR, then that's the only stats the pros would use. But they use every number they can get. So, if they are that useful to the pros, then anyone with as strong a desire and intent to improve as them, should be considering them as well. The question them becomes how much time and resources do you have to devote to that effort? Obviously less than the pros, so that's why we need to be more selective in which ones we focus on and devote time to. For me, its the seven that I mentioned. For others, it could be more or less.

image.thumb.png.db9c2f3810a8413b97ebc6a92b0e8574.png

 

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19 minutes ago, iacas said:

To answer the question in the topic title… score? 🙂

I'm being somewhat facetious as I already answered the question on page 1.

How did you beat @Double Mocha Man to that answer?

"Facetious" possibly the only word in the English language with a, e, i, o, u in it, in that order. 

Back to the topic. I love stats. I like looking back at them after I compile a bunch of them. 

2 minutes ago, Luv2kruz said:

There are lots of stats that have strong and poor correlation to scoring. Here's a table from one of the articles that I read on the subject that illustrates. FIR, for example, correlates poorly, while GIR has a strong correlation. Perhaps the 'minutia' you were tracking were stats that have a poor correlation and that's why they weren't useful too you.

I am a firm believer in the value of detailed stats and their role in driving improvement in one's game. Their diagnostic and monitoring capabilities are invalulable throughout the season, not just for a year end review. If were as simple as measuring just GIR and nGIR, then that's the only stats the pros would use. But they use every number they can get. So, if they are that useful to the pros, then anyone with as strong a desire and intent to improve as them, should be considering them as well. The question them becomes how much time and resources do you have to devote to that effort? Obviously less than the pros, so that's why we need to be more selective in which ones we focus on and devote time to. For me, its the seven that I mentioned. For others, it could be more or less.

image.thumb.png.db9c2f3810a8413b97ebc6a92b0e8574.png

 

That's great. But of course Birdies and Pars have strong correlation. How do you use that to guide your practice? Should I practice making more birdies? 

Read Lowest Score Wins. Learn about Separation Value. I believe it will help you a lot.

BTW - There is no correlation between "desire to improve" and tracking the number of birdies you make each round. 

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7 minutes ago, ChetlovesMer said:

How did you beat @Double Mocha Man to that answer?

"Facetious" possibly the only word in the English language with a, e, i, o, u in it, in that order. 

Back to the topic. I love stats. I like looking back at them after I compile a bunch of them. 

That's great. But of course Birdies and Pars have strong correlation. How do you use that to guide your practice? Should I practice making more birdies? 

Read Lowest Score Wins. Learn about Separation Value. I believe it will help you a lot.

BTW - There is no correlation between "desire to improve" and tracking the number of birdies you make each round. 

My use of the chart was simply to illustrate that there are stats that have strong and weak correlations to scoring and I wasn't advocating to track birdies as a key stat. You already found out that collecting various stats had little impact on helping you improve your game and therefore were wasted effort because they likely had low correlation to scoring. Given that we all have less time to devote to collecting and analyzing stats than the pros, we have to be selective to and find ones that give us the biggest bang for our buck. I've found ones that work for me and explained why, which answers the OP's question. If you have a shorter list that works for you, great.

First I've heard of separation value. I'll definitely look into it.

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18 minutes ago, Luv2kruz said:

There are lots of stats that have strong and poor correlation to scoring. Here's a table from one of the articles that I read on the subject that illustrates. FIR, for example, correlates poorly, while GIR has a strong correlation. Perhaps the 'minutia' you were tracking were stats that have a poor correlation and that's why they weren't useful too you.

I am a firm believer in the value of detailed stats and their role in driving improvement in one's game. Their diagnostic and monitoring capabilities are invalulable throughout the season, not just for a year end review. If were as simple as measuring just GIR and nGIR, then that's the only stats the pros would use. But they use every number they can get. So, if they are that useful to the pros, then anyone with as strong a desire and intent to improve as them, should be considering them as well. The question them becomes how much time and resources do you have to devote to that effort? Obviously less than the pros, so that's why we need to be more selective in which ones we focus on and devote time to. For me, its the seven that I mentioned. For others, it could be more or less.

image.thumb.png.db9c2f3810a8413b97ebc6a92b0e8574.png

 

Get this book. Lowest Score Wins. It goes into great detail about what aspects of your game are the ones to focus on including stats. Example, we know that GIR is King, but near GIR is equally important.

 

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24 minutes ago, Luv2kruz said:

There are lots of stats that have strong and poor correlation to scoring. Here's a table from one of the articles that I read on the subject that illustrates.

I actually keep track of number of putts. I use it as a rough indication of how I perform around the greens. I realize it has nothing to do with how well I am putting, but it does give me a sense of how effective my shots around the green are at getting me into spots where I can 1-putt more often than not. In 2019, I averaged 35 putts per round, 2020 it was 31 putts per round, and 2021 so far is 29 putts per round.

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8 minutes ago, Luv2kruz said:

First I've heard of separation value. I'll definitely look into it.

As @boogielicious and others have said, read Lowest Score Wins. It might very well change what you think about which stats you "need" to track. 

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2 hours ago, ChetlovesMer said:

As @boogielicious and others have said, read Lowest Score Wins. It might very well change what you think about which stats you "need" to track. 

I just did a brief search on the book and some threads that discussed it and the concept of separation value. Looks like the book's philosophy goes beyond just stats, which obviously makes sense, since stats are simply indicators of other golfing skills like green reading, strategy, etc. etc. and  There's obviously more to golf that just stats.

Regarding seperation value, as I understand it, is basically saying the same things that I said regarding correlation to scoring. Higher separation value = higher correlation to scoring. If you're going to work on anything and have limited time, why not work on the one's that have the best bang for your buck. Again, makes sense and that's what I said above.

What I'd like to know, however, is who did the statistical work to determine the separation value of the various stats in the book. Did they do it themselves or did they piggyback on the work of Brodie? Some stats agree with Brodie that the long game is a key differentiator between low and high handicappers, but some of the putting ranges that have high value differ from what I've read elsewhere.

At the end of the day, I think everyone is saying the same thing. Traditional like FIR, U/D, Putts are not that helpful. GIR is much better, but I maintain again, it is not granular enough and doesn't isolate the specific golfing skills required to make it happen. It just doesn't work for me and I prefer to break it down into its specific components separately (i.e. driving and approach shots). Again, that's just my thoughts and preference. 

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On 3/25/2021 at 4:57 PM, Luv2kruz said:

What I'd like to know, however, is who did the statistical work to determine the separation value of the various stats in the book. Did they do it themselves or did they piggyback on the work of Brodie? Some stats agree with Brodie that the long game is a key differentiator between low and high handicappers, but some of the putting ranges that have high value differ from what I've read elsewhere.

We did. It's my book. It came out about 40 days after Broadie's book, and was nearly complete (final editing) when Broadie's book was released.

I encourage you to buy a copy.

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