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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.
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    • Winning 17 majors in the 90s-10s.
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1 hour ago, Wally Fairway said:

I'm not assuming anything, I just asked a question.
Personally I think golf will be fine - interest might drop for a while, but I expect there to be someone (or a core few) who will become the center of attention. Until they aren't and newer players take the limelight.
I don't think we will ever see an explosion of the game like we did - and it wasn't just Tiger coming onto the scene, the Golf Channel launched before his professional career and it extended the game, sponsorship across all sports have grown

This conversation is getting off topic from the OP, but suffice it to say, I think you’re severely underestimating (if that’s even possible haha) Tiger’s effect on the game. Yes, the golf channel has some to do with growing the game, but their impact pales in comparison to Tiger.

That stated, your assertion that someone will come along is something I’ve already said. See my comment about Cameron Champ, for example.

Lastly, you’re probably right that there won’t be an explosion of golf interest; basketball is getting even larger than ever and golf has high initial entry fees, lack of access, etc. I think we may see a noticeable but not large bump once good launch monitors become more affordable. I own a gc2 and love it. Hard to imagine not having it nowadays. Makes it convenient to keep in touch with my swing year round and can play (admittedly not the same) at home. People are already doing this with online tours with Perfect Golf for example. Kids like that online game stuff haha. 

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@Jack Watson, you're trolling at this point. That article is one guy's opinion. Cool. Who cares? The only opinion I've cited is Jack Nicklaus's own opinion, and HE disagrees with Al Barkow or wha

Those are equally bad numbers to use, though, because we have no idea what gains equipment has made, what course setup is like, etc. etc. etc. Plus you're probably using the adjusted scoring average,

I have now had this conversation with another person on another forum. I've said things like "the math bears this out." I was then criticized for not sharing the "math" and even "making it up" or

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On 7/12/2019 at 3:10 AM, Wally Fairway said:

I
I don't think we will ever see an explosion of the game like we did - and it wasn't just Tiger coming onto the scene, the Golf Channel launched before his professional career and it extended the game, sponsorship across all sports have grown

Oh really? You think The Golf Channel, catering for old people playing an old person's game made the difference?

55afa3592acae717448b6490-750-404.png

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  • 1 year later...
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Jack-Nicklaus-Tiger-Woods.jpg

Who is the greatest player of all time? On the latest episode of Subpar, Brandel Chamblee says the answer is more...

I wanted to dive deeper into this but it’s late, so just going to post this for discussion for now.

Brandel is wrong in his conclusion. Parity means the talent of the competition is closer in level. In the case of golf, a game that has grown over the decades, it means Tiger has played against greater competition than Jack, not the other way around as Brandel says, because Jack played with guys that won more. Those guys won more because the competition wasn’t as good. The elite group of golfers back then was smaller so a handful of people won more often. There are more elite golfers now so it’s harder for a handful of golfers to consistently win.

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I have now had this conversation with another person on another forum.

I've said things like "the math bears this out." I was then criticized for not sharing the "math" and even "making it up" or just yelling "science!" like a COVID denier (or a mask denier, or whatever…).

I haven't quantified the math because I don't know the exact math. We have something like 10x the number of golfers playing golf now than we did in the 1970s.

This same person keeps saying that he thinks that Tiger's competition doesn't stack up to Jack's, and will say things like "there are fewer 1A players today." He'll list Seve, Watson, Floyd, Irwin, Trevino, Palmer, Player, and others as competitors to Jack, and will, if pushed, list only Phil, Ernie, and maybe Vijay as competitors to Tiger. He'll scoff at Michael Campbell beating Tiger in the 2005 U.S. Open at Pinehurst (and, I guess, ignore that Tiger beat Phil, Vijay, and Ernie?). He'll cite that Player (etc.) all have more majors than Ernie, Phil, and Vijay… and Dustin Johnson, and Jordan Spieth, etc.… while ignoring that those players also benefited from weak fields too.

So, in an attempt to put "the math" into a visual form, I came up with this list.

If we assume that all golfers are on a somewhat normal curve (a bell curve), this is the tippy top of the curve. The top whatever %. In Jack's day, it may be the top 0.003%. Today, it may be the top 0.0003%, as we saw about a ten-fold increase in the number of players from 1970 to 2005.

jackvstiger.jpg

At any rate, the top graph has 34 dots, with the red dot being Jack, and the bottom has 100 dots, or about triple the number. This is a cautious approach, as I genuinely think the real number of dots should be more than three-fold.

The "probability of winning" goes from maybe 0.2% (1 in 500 events) on the left to something (non-linearly) higher on the right.

The bottom graph illustrates how much more difficult it is to win in 2005 than in 1970. 3x as many players are squished into far less space. This reduces the chances of one of the top (two, five, ten…) guys winning in two ways:

  • Tripling the number of players, even if the distribution was the same, would reduce everyone's chances by about 1/3.
  • Shifting the players to the right (higher chances of winning, or reducing "1 in 500" to, say, "1 in 200" events) similarly reduces the chances of others winning. For example, if 10 players go from 0.2% to 0.5%, that 3% has to come from somewhere.

This graph illustrates that not only are the top 100 players capable of winning the event that week (the real number is likely 200, and includes people who aren't even in the field, a few good Korn Ferry Tour players, etc.), but that those players at the top.

To check the "math" I talked with Lou Stagner, someone who KNOWS the math.

He and I had this conversation (link to see it full-size is at the bottom, in the postscript):

conversation.jpg

His tweet is this one:

Later in the conversation, Lou said this:

This is an example I always give.

Imagine you invent a game when you are a kid. You and 19 of your friends play every day. 20 players total. You are the best at it of all your friends.

The game catches on. And soon there are 100 players. Are you still the best?

Then there are 200. You still the best?

Then 500.

Then 1000

Then 10,000

Are you still the best? Odds are not in your favor.

I replied:

Right. I've made this point…

Imagine you field a football team of 50 from a town of 5,000. They play a football team from a town of 500,000.

There are "decent" (way below 50%, but not 0%) odds that the starting QB from the town of 5,000 will be better than the QB from the town of 500,000.

But there is basically no chance that the starting QB, RB, two WR, the kicker, a safety, a cornerback, and two linebackers from the town of 5,000 will be better than their counterparts from the town of 500,000. That the best ten (or nine) players from the small town will be better than the best nine/ten from the town of 500,000. It's effectively a 0% chance.

So, the #1 player right now (Dustin Johnson) may not be better than Jack. That's not a guarantee.

But the top 10 players are almost definitely better than the top 10 players of 1970.

Lou, again, in response to that (in addition to liking my last post:

Great example.

I love it. Perfect.

Tiger faces not only DEEPER, but STRONGER at every level. And yeah, Seve won his share of majors, as did Trevino and Watson and Palmer (their careers overlap with Jack's less than many realize) and Player, but they too were taking advantage of the shallow, weak fields.

THIS is what the math shows, and there's almost NO chance that the best ten or even the best five players of 1970 were better than the best five or ten players of 2005, let alone for a period of several years, let alone for a decade, or a career.

P.S. Here's a full-size link to the conversation: https://p197.p4.n0.cdn.getcloudapp.com/items/eDuwk5RY/conversation.jpg?v=091ffa1f177b2801866b7e32f2f14126. I forgot TST would resize the image to fit within a boundary.

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Yep. You see this play out in the olympics as well. Countries with huge populations dominate across the entire competition. While smaller countries need to be hyper focused on a few events. Volume matters. 

If you take out Jack and Tiger, two outliers. Lets focus on just America. There was 205 million people in the USA in 1970. There was 295 million people in 2005. Lets say the probability curve is identical for golf skill level (which disregards things like advancement in sports medicine, training, golf instruction, etc..) In 1970, 0.000000075 of people were in the top 15. If you take that rate and multiply it by 295 million you get 22-23 golfers of of top 15 quality. That is at minimum 47% increase in the number of top 15 quality of players. Its easy to say that this 47% should be much more when considering other variables. 

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45 minutes ago, saevel25 said:

If you take out Jack and Tiger, two outliers. Lets focus on just America. There was 205 million people in the USA in 1970. There was 295 million people in 2005. Lets say the probability curve is identical for golf skill level (which disregards things like advancement in sports medicine, training, golf instruction, etc..) In 1970, 0.000000075 of people were in the top 15. If you take that rate and multiply it by 295 million you get 22-23 golfers of of top 15 quality. That is at minimum 47% increase in the number of top 15 quality of players. Its easy to say that this 47% should be much more when considering other variables. 

Golf didn't scale with the population. It scaled much, much faster. (And I realize you're talking about just the U.S.) Golf went from about 4 million players in 1970 to about 26 or 27 million in 2005.

And, as you know, this ignores the increase in the international game.

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