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Increased Randomness on Putting


Skill vs. Luck in Putting  

40 members have voted

  1. 1. Read the question in the first post and answer here. Vote BEFORE you read any replies.

    • The gap between the good and bad putters would be narrowed.
      23
    • The gap between the good and bad putters would be increased.
      7
    • The gap between the good and bad putters would remain the same.
      10


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I would change my vote to slightly narrowing. When I voted, I was thinking long putts where the make percentage is low. But it does raise a question. Certainly at 5ft or maybe 10ft, the gap is narrowed because it could only hurt the better putter. At what distance does it start to not matter? Like at 30ft, chances are already low of making a putt amongst the best. Adding in bumpiness is not going to make much difference between the two skill levels. So at what distance is the breaking point?

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15 minutes ago, phillyk said:

I would change my vote to slightly narrowing. When I voted, I was thinking long putts where the make percentage is low. But it does raise a question. Certainly at 5ft or maybe 10ft, the gap is narrowed because it could only hurt the better putter. At what distance does it start to not matter? Like at 30ft, chances are already low of making a putt amongst the best. Adding in bumpiness is not going to make much difference between the two skill levels. So at what distance is the breaking point?

Right. I think you could make the case that for a single longer putt (40 feet? 50 feet?) the greens would hurt a mediocre putter more and widen the gap. Because speed is such an important variable, and the mediocre putter is more likely to miss the sweet spot, hit a putt with sidespin, or do any number of things to increase the impact of imperfections on the greens. But at the end of the day, those long putts become short or mid-range putts and I think the net effect hurts the good putter more when everything is combined together.

 

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19 minutes ago, Wanzo said:

Folks focusing too much on short putts and makes/misses IMO. 

Why? On 40 foot putts, they both don’t have much of a chance. 

Quote

From LSW:

PGA Tour pros make about 23% of their 15ft putts, 15% of their 20ft putts and 10% of their 25 foot putts. The average 70s golfer makes 20%, 13% and 9%. The average 90s golfer makes 10%, 5% and 4%. this is an extremely small gap, and thus a low Separation Value.

It’s the putts inside 15 feet that have the highest Separation Value. 

Quote

PGA tour players make 96% of their 3ft putts, while a 70s golfer make 92% and a 90s golfer makes just over 80%. 

At 10 feet the gap is narrower (paraphrasing).

So if a great putter makes 5 of 10 putts at 8 feet (tour average) on tour greens and he missed 1 or 2 more on crappy greens, his percentage changes more. The bad putter is missing more of those anyway, even on good greens.

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4 hours ago, GolfLug said:

I changed my vote because of the post below.

You're not supposed to change your vote. 😛

4 hours ago, Wanzo said:

The poor player's shotgun increases by a wider margin.

The problem with that is that the "shotgun pattern" doesn't account for the putts that go in. Yes, the distributions of both get larger.

4 hours ago, Bucks said:

I've heard a story about Bobby Jones, however even I'm not old enough to verify it as true. Bobby was supposedly putting one day with who I believe was Horton Smith, but I may be wrong on the name. When he was setting up to putt, Horton (or whoever) asked him if he was going to clean the worm castings from his line, since the may knock his putt off line. Bob's response was "they may knock it on line as well". 

Bobby should have studied probability more.

  • A putt going toward the hole, if mis-directed, can go left or right. Both result in a miss.
  • A putt that is missing the hole, if mis-directed, can go left or right. One may result in a make, the other is still a miss.

Bumps (if large enough to deflect a ball that would go in out of the hole or large enough for a near miss to become a make) have a negative outcome 100% of the time when the ball is going in, and a positive outcome 50% of the time when the ball is going to be a near miss.

Or to put it in different terms, every bump on a ball that would be going in the middle has a negative outcome - it steers the ball farther away from the center of the hole, and every bump that steers the ball on a putt that's missing has a 50% chance of "helping" by steering it in the right direction.

3 hours ago, Double Mocha Man said:

Probability theory, over time, would suggest that the gap would remain the same.  In the short term any answer could be correct... in the long-term, nope.

Nope. You can join Bobby Jones in the statistics/probability class. 🙂

3 hours ago, Wanzo said:

What would happen to the bad putter?  He makes a few more but maybe his bad misses that get knocked off line even further cause him to 3 putt a percentage of them?  I know probably not from 5 feet, but if you apply the logic to all putts and not just 5 footers?

These bumps aren't knocking the ball feet farther away. They're not tees randomly stuck in the ground. They're just bumps on a putting green.

2 hours ago, chspeed said:

Reasoning is that the better putter will more often chose a line that drops the ball in the center of the cup. This means that small effects by imperfections on the green would still go in more often than for poorer putters who hit off-center to the hole.

That's the kind of road you can lead yourself down when you don't just look at it logically. 😄


To the majority of you getting this one wrong…

Let's make an extreme example. You have one putter that makes 80% of his putts, and another that makes 50%. The gap is 30% or 0.3 strokes (1.2 versus 1.5).

You introduce enough randomness that 25% of the putts that were going to go in miss and 5% of the putts that were going to miss go in.

The gap is now:

  • 0.8 * .75 + 0.2 * .05 = 61%.
  • 0.5 * .75 + 0.5 * .05 = 40%

What was a 30% gap is now a 19% gap. The gap narrows.

Spoiler

And if you want to say the bad putter is so bad none of his missed putts could ever be directed in…

  • 0.8 * .75 + 0.2 * .05 = 61%.
  • 0.5 * .75 = 37.5%

The gap is still only 23.5% when it used to be 30%.

The good putter is punished, even though he's punished at the same "rates" as the bad putter, at a higher "value" because he hits more putts that would have gone in, while the bad putter hits more putts that could potentially only be directed in.

To put it another way, there's a larger possible "negative" adjustment or change for the good putter and a larger possible "positive" adjustment or change for the bad putter.

This is true in pretty much* all cases: the more luck plays a role, the less skill plays a role.

* I'm a "never say never or always" kinda guy. I can't think of a time when an increase in randomness or luck also increases or at least doesn't reduce skill, but again… see the first sentence here in this asterisk.

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32 minutes ago, iacas said:

The problem with that is that the "shotgun pattern" doesn't account for the putts that go in. Yes, the distributions of both get larger.

larger distribution leads to more 3 putts on longer putts.  

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6 minutes ago, Wanzo said:

larger distribution leads to more 3 putts on longer putts.  

With imperfections and randomness, the same percentage of balls that would be deflected further away might be deflected closer. So they might 3 putt less in some instances. 

Also, you might be talking a few inches. which is fractions of a percent difference in three putting %. 

Even if you hit a big deflection, it might benefit a bad golfer who hit the putt way to hard and helped it stop nearer to the hole (like hitting the flag stick). It would harm the better golfer who has good putting speed. I still think the gap narrows, even on long putts. 

 

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12 minutes ago, Wanzo said:

larger distribution leads to more 3 putts on longer putts.  

I already addressed this in my post up above.

It's very simple, Matt: the outcome of anything is a combination of skill and luck. Increase the luck (good and bad), and the importance of skill diminishes.

More bounces = more luck = decreased relevance of skill.

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23 minutes ago, Wanzo said:

larger distribution leads to more 3 putts on longer putts.  

Speed matters more on long putts than line. A bumpy green isn’t going to affect a long putt by more than a few inches. It’s not really going to cause an increase in 3-putts.

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1 hour ago, iacas said:
  • A putt going toward the hole, if mis-directed, can go left or right. Both result in a miss.
  • A putt that is missing the hole, if mis-directed, can go left or right. One may result in a make, the other is still a miss.

Won't the pro have a much closer/tighter dispersion?  So let's say that the bump moves a ball an inch, but that 50% of the amateur's missed putts miss by more than an inch? In those cases, hitting the bump will miss both ways.

Edited by chspeed
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5 minutes ago, chspeed said:

Won't the pro have a much closer/tighter dispersion?  So let's say that the bump moves a ball an inch, but that 50% of the amateur's missed putts miss by more than an inch? In those cases, hitting the bump will miss both ways.

Then that putt wasn’t going to miss. You are applying a single constraint to a situation that has no such constraint.

An increase in luck decreases the relevance of skill.

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Anecdotally it definitely narrows and I would say its most significant with shorter putts.

This year Ive been doing some of my practice at another local course with much better greens and the difference in making those shorter putts is huge.

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I agree and voted for narrowing but I think that, in addition to the conclusion above, it may also be caused by the reasons I state below.

A randomly bumpy green (and trust me - I played on very bumpy greens a lot earlier this year) affects the good putter more, in my opinion, than the bad putter because it negates being good but doesn't really affect a bad putter. The good putter loses the ability and confidence to hit a straight putt while a bad putter figures it probably won't go in anyway but still attempts to make the best putt he can. Also, judging speed becomes an issue for a good putter. All that up and down motion of the ball is going to slow down the putt so the good putter would be more apt to leave it short or hit it too hard to compensate. A bad putter is just as apt to hit it too hard anyway negating some of the speed loss affecting the good putter.

Also, in my opinion, with a randomly bumpy green (particularly if the bumps change location between putts as they do when the first putt is missed) - putting basically becomes a game of Pachinko.

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It looks like I got it exactly wrong.  The explanation makes sense, though.  

I wonder if the better putters were more likely to get this question right than terrible putters.  I offer as evidence that I got it wrong. ;-) 

I do love questions like this, hopefully I'll get future ones right. :-) 

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I answered without reading anything other than the first post and voted for "The gap would decrease." My logic being that if you took it to an extreme and they bumps were so bad that it truly became "random" if the putt went in or not, than everyone no matter how good or bad at putting would have the same random chance of it going in. So, if you don't take it to an extreme and it's only a little random, I'm going to guess that it would narrow the gap, but not enough to make everyone the same.

Okay, now I'll go back and read the thread. 

On 9/19/2021 at 11:02 PM, Keep It Simple said:

I voted narrowed.  I took 2 extremes (unicorns); player A, a perfect player who never misses a putt on a perfectly smooth putting surface and player B who never makes a putt on a perfectly smooth putting surface.  Add bumpiness to the green in a way that randomly affects the result of the putt and player A can only get a worse result (missed putts) and player B only a better result (made putts).   Thus narrowing the gap.

This is my thinking as well.

18 hours ago, billchao said:

Let me see if I can present this another way.

Player A is a good putter and makes 50% of his 8’ putts on tour quality greens. Player B is a bad putter and only makes 10% of the same putts.

For argument’s sake, let’s say a bumpy green deflects the ball to a degree that it affects a putt holing 1% of the time, both good and bad.

Player A’s make % on a bumpy green would still be 50%. He loses 1% on good lines but gains 1% on misses. Over 1000 putts, the bumpy greens deflect 5 (1% of 500) of the putts he would have holed off line and 5 (1% of 500) of the putts he wouldn’t have holed into the hole.

Player B’s make % however becomes 11% (10.8% if you’re a math major). He loses and gains the same 1% as Player A, but since he’s less likely to hit a good line to begin with, the bumpy greens affect him differently. Over 1000 putts, he misses 1 (1% of 100) he would have made on a perfect green, but makes 9 (1% of 900) he would have missed. On a bumpy green, this player holes 108 putts of this length, versus the 100 he would have holed on a perfect green.

Player B is a slightly better putter on bumpy greens while player A stays the same, this narrowing the gap.

I hope this makes sense. I think I did the math right, but I put this post together here and there while working, so mistakes could have been made.

I think this is right. 

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17 hours ago, iacas said:

The problem with that is that the "shotgun pattern" doesn't account for the putts that go in. Yes, the distributions of both get larger.

so if the task is putt to this dot on the ground, no hole, then the average distance or dispersion from the dot increases more for the poor putter.  I understand there's a hole, just confirming.

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28 minutes ago, Wanzo said:

so if the task is putt to this dot on the ground, no hole, then the average distance or dispersion from the dot increases more for the poor putter.  I understand there's a hole, just confirming.

Yes, the dispersion would increase because some of the balls putted would bounce further way from the hole, but some of them would bounce closer. It doesn't change the fact that near the hole, a certain amount of made putts would miss and missed putts would be made. 

 

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2 hours ago, ChetlovesMer said:

"BOOM!" Goes the dynamite. 

You (general terms) hear it all of the time:  It's better to be lucky than good!  ... 😜

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