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Phil McGleno

Strength and Depth of Field in Jack's Day and Tiger's Day

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  1. 1. Loosely Related Question (consider the thread topic-please dont just repeat the GOAT thread): Which is the more impressive feat?

    • Winning 20 majors in the 60s-80s.
      12
    • Winning 17 majors in the 90s-10s.
      139


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1 hour ago, fishgolf said:

All that and you're still failing to make the case. The equipment argument is a red herring - that is starting to smell.

What a searing refutation.

🤡

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14 hours ago, Jack Watson said:

 

Is your example purely hypothetical?

My example removes names so you can try to look past your emotion and see how ridiculous the statement you made (that the better equipment hurts Tiger's case instead of helping it) is.

Regardless of whether it's hypothetical or not, it shouldn't change your answer to the question. Unless, of course, you have an incredible bias that you cannot allow yourself to see past.

Also, since you want names of players who are better than the players of the time of Nicklaus, how about I start listing some out for you?

  1. Davis Love III
  2. Sergio Garcia
  3. Phil Mickelson
  4. Vijay Singh
  5. Nick Price
  6. David Duval
  7. Bob Estes
  8. Scott Hoch
  9. Chris DiMarco
  10. Scott Verplank
  11. Bernhard Langer
  12. Charles Howell III
  13. Jim Furyk
  14. David Toms
  15. Tom Lehman
  16. Scott McCarron
  17. Mike Weir
  18. Jesper Parnevik
  19. Jeff Sluman
  20. Paul Azinger
  21. Rocco Mediate
  22. Kevin Sutherland
  23. Kenny Perry
  24. Stweart Cink
  25. Frank Lickliter II
  26. Ernie Els
  27. Brett Quigley
  28. Kirk Triplett
  29. Billy Mayfair
  30. Dudley Hart
  31. Mark Calcavecchia
  32. Fred Funk
  33. Jay Haas
  34. Bob Tway
  35. Jose Coceres
  36. Shigeki Maruyama
  37. Brian Gay
  38. Joe Durant
  39. Hal Sutton
  40. Jerry Kelly
  41. Robert Allenby
  42. Corey Pavin
  43. Brad Faxon
  44. Olin Browne
  45. Brian watts
  46. K.J. Choi

Every last one of those players had a better scoring average in 2001 than Lee Trevino, the Vardon Trophy winner, did in 1970. That's 46 players, not counting Tiger, that scored better than the best in 1970.

Edited by Pretzel

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@Pretzel

In your a b thing both a and b were equally dominant.  So if you were referring to Jack and Tiger that clearly doesn’t apply.  In regards to your list Price and Langer are Tiger era?  Lehman?  Funk?  Those stood out at first glance seems like they were like 40 in 1997.  I would expect 2001 pga your guys to average lower than Trevino,  they had prov1 and titanium drivers!  

 

 

 

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3 hours ago, Jack Watson said:

@Pretzel 

I would expect 2001 pga your guys to average lower than Trevino,  they had prov1 and titanium drivers!  

You’ve simply got to be trolling, now.

So the list of ‘also rans’ is better...

but the player who beat them all to hell is not better?

No way does that hold water!!!

n o  w a y

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And @Pretzel, those guys were almost surely better than the top xx guys who played in Jack's era, but using scoring average is a flawed method, as so many other factors apply.

Of course, that doesn't once again stop @Jack Watson from contradicting himself:

3 hours ago, Jack Watson said:

they had prov1 and titanium drivers!  

… which made it tougher for the best to separate themselves from those below them.

🤦🏼‍♂️

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@Pretzel

If all those guys were very much better than those players from say 65-95 then how could a 58 year old man beat Tiger at Augusta in 98?  How could a guy almost 60 years old come within a hard bounce of winning the Open?

My explanation is number one peak talent and number 2 peak talent honed on less forgiving equipment.

@iacas

If we look into the fields in particular from say 97-03 you had a fair amount of the peak talent guys in decline.  Plus 01 pro v1 comes in which gave an instant extra club on irons over wound ball tech.  97-2010 the game of golf became truly modern.  Also I want to be clear that I am not including 2010 or so onward in my comments on field strength.  By 2018 the game truly changed and you have players who trained on modern gear from a young age and take advantage of it physically and strategically.  What used to be referred to as the college swing all out prioritizing swing speed has become the norm on the PGA tour.  Hogan even said in 5l one day big strong guys will be shooting at the greens from the tee and now many do.

But in particular from 97-03 the field lacked peak talent to push Tiger.

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@Jack Watson, do you understand at all the concept of small sample sizes?

No. Apparently not. Typical.

The rest of your comments don’t deserve any more attention than this sentence.

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The question in this thread intrigues me. I try to ignore it, but occasionally struggle to do so. It's not so much (for me) whether Tiger is/was "better" than Jack or vice versa, but the exercise in quantitative methodology it could really present for people with the time and inclination to do it (I might have the latter, but certainly not the former), and it seems that many here have both.

To my mind, you are comparing the performance of two outliers relative to their fields. That's always the crux of it.

In other words, if you have a hypothesis (I don't, by the way), that Nicklaus was a better golfer than Woods but was playing in an era when the overall standard of professional golf was lower than in Woods's time, then Nicklaus's outlier status vs the field, must, logically, be higher than was the case for Woods. In other words, under that hypothesis it's not Jack's fault that he had mediocre competition, and he played his own game irrespective of the field.

Statistical analysis of some significance from 2002:

Chatterjee, S., Wiseman, F., & Perez, R. (2002). Studying improved performance in golf. Journal of Applied Statistics, (8). 1219.

If you seek out the article on Google Scholar, it's actually quite fascinating. It only used scores from the Masters as its data source (which is, admittedly, a limitation), but still, looking at the standard deviation and entropy, the statistical conclusion is:

These results indicate a remarkable improvement in performance as revealed by measures of central tendency, variation and shape. The mean and the median scores have declined as have the standard deviation and the entropy of the distribution. The coefficient of variation has also declined. These all indicate improved performance and increased competition. Finally, the shape characteristics of the data reveal that the distributions over time have remained symmetric, while also showing vanishing tails that increase the peakedness of the distributions. Increased peakedness (through decreasing kurtosis) is again a clear indication of improved competition among the top players. Thus golf, like other sports, has shown dramatic improvement in the quality of play over an extended period of time.

When I first weighed in on this thread years ago, I argued that you only move in your own times, and hence it's unfair to cross-compare eras. I was quite wrong, in hindsight. The emotional response of someone who had a preference for Nicklaus for emotional reasons (he was my Dad's sporting hero); allowing the emotional to cloud the analytical.

Of course one can cross-compare eras.

The standard of professional golf has improved dramatically since Nicklaus's era - that is what the statisticians in the article I cited showed (again, based upon Masters' data only).

If Nicklaus had the misfortune to be an exceptional outlier in an era of (relatively) mediocre golf, then we would expect to see Jack being far above (his) field.

I haven't done the work viz-a-viz Jack vs Tiger relative to their respective fields. As I recall from the Jack/Tiger thread, others have. And, as I recall, that data does not show that Jack beat his fields by a far greater extent than Tiger beat his? If anything, it's the other way around? Meaning Tiger beat better golfers by better margins of victory.

One last comment, and then I'll shut up on this for another decade. The "peak" discussed in the 2002 article is also fascinating. The charts level off, indicating that peak performance is approaching, which makes it much harder for an outlier to emerge. It will be interesting to see whether golf produces another Tiger or Jack. My guess would be not. At present, it seems to produce many different major winners, drawn from a condensed, high quality field.

I'm sure this just regurgitates arguments many others have made here. But the basic reality seems to be that, during the peak of his career, Woods beat better golfers by better margins of victory than Nicklaus did at the peak of his. What that actually means is probably the topic of the Jack vs Tiger thread, rather than this one, but those are waters where I choose not to tread.

 

Edited by ScouseJohnny

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Was there an adjustment to data taking into account equipment.

95 or so forward the equipment gave more distance and straighter shots but courses did not begin compensating for a few years.  You would expect better scores since the gear made it an easier game.

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@Jack Watson one must conclude at this point that you enjoy embarrassing yourself. Congratulations. You’ve finally succeeded at something.

Better equipment hurts your argument.

I appreciate the post, @ScouseJohnny. @Jack Watson and others simply don’t want to hear it. They think that fields with 1/2 club pros playing for $300 T54 checks were stiff competition for Jack. They can’t wrap their brains around the idea that the “greats” of Jack’s time also benefited from weaker, shallower fields and were able to inflate their win totals; never mind that many players today who don’t even have Web.com Tour status are in a higher percentile of golfers than PGA Tour regulars were in the 60s.

P.S. $300 for T54 is probably a bad estimate on the high side.

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8 minutes ago, dennyjones said:

for everyone, not just Tiger..

Forget it. Doesn’t matter what statistics, data or simple common sense you apply here. @Jack Watson doesn’t want to concede and is delusionally bias. It’s become like a discussion with a flat-earth believer. Sometimes you just have to walk away and accept they are wrong and they’ll never know it. 

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1 hour ago, Jack Watson said:

Was there an adjustment to data taking into account equipment.

95 or so forward the equipment gave more distance and straighter shots but courses did not begin compensating for a few years.  You would expect better scores since the gear made it an easier game.

It's an interesting question, and no, they did not make a data adjustment for equipment.

If the equipment changes were a statistically significant factor, you'd expect to see "stepping" in the graph. In other words, I'd guess you'd see a sharp improvement in performance as persimmon gave way to steel, steel to modern, oversized drivers, etc. As you said, big evolutions in equipment tend to look seismic, not gradual (you mentioned a significant advance around 1995). But there's no stepping in the graph - it's a smooth curve indicating steady, gradual improvement in golfers' performance, which then begins to plateau post-2001.

Others like @iacas are far better placed than I to explain why professional golfers have improved so much over the past 50 years. Better instruction methods? Improved scholarships for young golfers? I don't know. Equipment may be a variable in the overall analysis, but it doesn't stand out as a statistically significant factor in overall improved performance for professional players.

The big limitation in the study I mentioned is that it drew its data from one competition played on one course. You'd have to re-run the methodology over the three other majors, as a start. However, I'd be surprised if the results were dramatically different.

But it's a nice afternoon, and one happily free of work. Time for a quick nine!

Edited by ScouseJohnny

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@ScouseJohnny

Thats a strong point of the info-being on one course-the best one.  Strong posts.  I will check that out.

@Vinsk

Im having a hard time responding to you because I can’t tell if you simply are not following or if you are purposely creating men of straw to burn.

 

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2 hours ago, Jack Watson said:

@ScouseJohnny

Thats a strong point of the info-being on one course-the best one.  Strong posts.  I will check that out.

@Vinsk

Im having a hard time responding to you because I can’t tell if you simply are not following or if you are purposely creating men of straw to burn.

 

I’ll wait for a response from you to @ScouseJohnny. I think he’s made some great points. I’m not expecting anything from you so pay no mind to me.

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4 hours ago, ScouseJohnny said:

Others like @iacas are far better placed than I to explain why professional golfers have improved so much over the past 50 years. Better instruction methods? Improved scholarships for young golfers?

Yes, all that and more. 

But the biggest thing is increased talent pools.  The top 100 golfers out of a pool of 300 are not likely to be as good as the top 100 golfers from a pool of 2500, which in turn are not likely to be as good as the top 100 golfers from a pool of 8500.

Those numbers were not chosen at random --- they are the number of entrants to the US Open when Jones first won, when Jack first won, and when Tiger first won.  The population of the world, or the US, is not a good way to compare talent pools, because most people don't play golf.  Even the number of golfers in the world or the US isn't a good way, because most golfers are thrilled to break 90.

In the context of professional golf, "talent pool" means the number of golfers who are both talented enough to break par regularly, and are serious enough about golf to enter top-level tournaments.  Which is exactly what the number of entries to the US Open gives you. 

In 1962, there were 2475 such golfers.  In 2000, there were 8455, even though the USGA had lowered the maximum eligible handicap (1.4) by then. 

So the talent pool was over three times as large when Tiger won his first US Open as when Jack won.   And most of them had good coaching and tournament experience since junior high, rather than learning a swing by trial and error in their spare time from caddying duties.

There's always a chance that the state 5A football team champs would lose to the state 1A football team, but it's not likely.

And my perennial disclaimer: I claim that for this and many other reasons, it's a fact that the fields were stronger in the Tiger era than the Jack era.  I don't claim it proves that Tiger was better than Jack -- the only way to prove that is to have them play head to head, with both in their primes. 

But since Tiger was more dominant than Jack, over stronger fields, my money's on Tiger.

 

 

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19 hours ago, Jack Watson said:

@Pretzel

In your a b thing both a and b were equally dominant.  So if you were referring to Jack and Tiger that clearly doesn’t apply.

You're correct, it clearly doesn't apply. Jack Nicklaus never held a 1.46 stroke scoring advantage over the second place competition over an entire season, and Jack also never led the tour in scoring average for 5 years in a row in his prime.

Clearly he was significantly less dominant, even though he did have a longer career against weaker opponents. I'll let us make this comparison though, considering the fact that it is only being generous to Jack to say he held the same level of dominance during his prime as Tiger did.

Jack never had a statistically significant effect on the score of the field, as Tiger was proven to have. Jack also lost significantly more playoffs, with a record of 12-10 compared to Tiger's 11-1 in PGA Tour Playoffs and 15-2 worldwide. Jack never won all 4 majors in a row, and he also never won majors at the same pace that Tiger did.

To even suggest that Jack was ever as dominant in any stretch of years as Tiger was is foolhardy, even in a debate about who had the greater overall career, because literally every fact points to Tiger being far more dominant.

Edited by Pretzel

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