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billchao

Mark Broadie Dispels Some Golf Myths

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http://www.golf.com/tour-and-news/mark-broadie-statistical-myths-golf-truth-out-there

More than a few myths and misunderstandings have crept into the golf conversation recently, especially regarding Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson. Let’s use Strokes Gained data to shed light on some of the “facts” I’ve been hearing.

Jordan Spieth isn’t “great” in any one facet of golf

FICTION!

I hear a familiar refrain regarding the reigning Masters and U.S. Open champion: Sure, he’s a well-rounded player, but he isn’t great in any one area. Indeed, through mid-July, Spieth’s performance in traditional categories wouldn’t make a stat-lover’s jaw drop. He was 76th in driving distance, 85th in driving accuracy, 49th in greens in regulation, and 40th in total putting. Statistically, that’s average—but it’s utterly misleading.

Why? Because traditional stats are flawed. Strokes Gained reveals a much clearer snapshot of Spieth’s performance this year. Entering the British Open, he ranked first in overall Strokes Gained (gaining 2.6 strokes per round on the field), 12th in driving (0.6 strokes per round), seventh in approach shots (0.8 strokes), sixth in the short game (0.6 strokes), and seventh in putting (0.6 strokes). Spieth is outstanding in every key area. That sounds “great” to me.

Dustin Johnson is an elite putter

FICTION!

Midway through 2015, Dustin Johnson was second in putts per green in regulation and 13th in putts per round, suggesting that he’s among the Tour’s best on the greens. But those two categories can be misleading because neither accounts for the initial putt distance. Johnson takes fewer putts because (in large part due to his incredible driving) his putts start closer than average to the hole, not because he’s a good putter. Strokes Gained accounts for the initial putt distance and gives a very different result: D.J. ranked 125th in putting. Watch him and you may be convinced that Strokes Gained is a more accurate measure of pure putting skill.

You see this a lot in other sports, too. Traditional stats are not as good as "new" or more advanced stats at measuring players' abilities.

Just imagine what DJ could be if he were a better putter.

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http://www.golf.com/tour-and-news/mark-broadie-statistical-myths-golf-truth-out-there

Quote:

More than a few myths and misunderstandings have crept into the golf conversation recently, especially regarding Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson. Let’s use Strokes Gained data to shed light on some of the “facts” I’ve been hearing.

Jordan Spieth isn’t “great” in any one facet of golf

FICTION!

I hear a familiar refrain regarding the reigning Masters and U.S. Open champion: Sure, he’s a well-rounded player, but he isn’t great in any one area. Indeed, through mid-July, Spieth’s performance in traditional categories wouldn’t make a stat-lover’s jaw drop. He was 76th in driving distance, 85th in driving accuracy, 49th in greens in regulation, and 40th in total putting. Statistically, that’s average—but it’s utterly misleading.

Why? Because traditional stats are flawed. Strokes Gained reveals a much clearer snapshot of Spieth’s performance this year. Entering the British Open, he ranked first in overall Strokes Gained (gaining 2.6 strokes per round on the field), 12th in driving (0.6 strokes per round), seventh in approach shots (0.8 strokes), sixth in the short game (0.6 strokes), and seventh in putting (0.6 strokes). Spieth is outstanding in every key area. That sounds “great” to me.

Dustin Johnson is an elite putter

FICTION!

Midway through 2015, Dustin Johnson was second in putts per green in regulation and 13th in putts per round, suggesting that he’s among the Tour’s best on the greens. But those two categories can be misleading because neither accounts for the initial putt distance. Johnson takes fewer putts because (in large part due to his incredible driving) his putts start closer than average to the hole, not because he’s a good putter. Strokes Gained accounts for the initial putt distance and gives a very different result: D.J. ranked 125th in putting. Watch him and you may be convinced that Strokes Gained is a more accurate measure of pure putting skill.

You see this a lot in other sports, too. Traditional stats are not as good as "new" or more advanced stats at measuring players' abilities.

Just imagine what DJ could be if he were a better putter.

These guys would approve too @billchao

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Only thing that I don't particularly like is it encourages practicing putting and 100 yard shots over improving your full swing. I mean, sure, if you aren't losing balls off the tee, or you can strike all your clubs consistently otherwise then focusing on these 2 areas will help, but most of us need to work on full swing mechanics.

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I agree that DJ is just an average putter by tour standards and also agree that strokes gained putting is the most correlated putting statistic with someone's actual putting abilities. With that said, I don't think SGP is perfect- it only accounts for distance and not the difficulty of the putts you have. Not every 3 foot, 7 foot, or 27 foot putt is created equal. Some players do a better job leaving themselves easier putts. My take-away with Spieth is that the stats seem to confirm he is an intelligent player with no weaknesses- while he is only 40th in GIR, he is 7th in strokes gained with approach shots. This tells me he is either getting it closer than most when he does hit a green and/or, when he does "miss," it is in the right spot more than his competitors. Being on the fringe is technically a missed green, but it is a likely a good shot if you are only 15 feet away from 175 yards..

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Only thing that I don't particularly like is it encourages practicing putting and 100 yard shots over improving your full swing. I mean, sure, if you aren't losing balls off the tee, or you can strike all your clubs consistently otherwise then focusing on these 2 areas will help, but most of us need to work on full swing mechanics.

The article doesn't discourage practicing your full swing and points out that distance is an advantage. For many of us, 100 yards is close to a full swing and the principle of hitting the ball first with solid contact applies just like with all full shots. Things like weight forward, proper shaft lean/flat wrist and a steady head are important on a 100 yard shot just like they are on full swings. For many players, I think it makes sense to work on their full swing mechanics by practicing a lot with short irons.

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The article doesn't discourage practicing your full swing and points out that distance is an advantage. For many of us, 100 yards is close to a full swing and the principle of hitting the ball first with solid contact applies just like with all full shots. Things like weight forward, proper shaft lean/flat wrist and a steady head are important on a 100 yard shot just like they are on full swings. For many players, I think it makes sense to work on their full swing mechanics by practicing a lot with short irons.

I didn't say it discouraged it, but it specifically points out that the longer hitters gained more strokes then the better putters. However, instead of encouraging players to improve their long game, which will net them more strokes gained, it encourages work on short game where fewer strokes are gained. Not saying that short game isn't important, but most people I know would gain much much more from working on their long game.

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I was wondering about how good of a putter Jordan is also. I discussed this topic with Rich Hunt.

Jordan is a good putter, but I contend he is merely having a great year and is not truly a great putter. His performance from 3-5 feet is the most concerning for me. Typically consistently great putters (Luke Donald, Tiger (of 2000-2008), Brad Faxon) are excellent from 3-5 feet and really really good over the range from 3-15 feet. Jordan is having a spectacular year from 15-25 feet which is really hard to maintain long term.

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I was wondering about how good of a putter Jordan is also. I discussed this topic with Rich Hunt.

Jordan is a good putter, but I contend he is merely having a great year and is not truly a great putter. His performance from 3-5 feet is the most concerning for me. Typically consistently great putters (Luke Donald, Tiger (of 2000-2008), Brad Faxon) are excellent from 3-5 feet and really really good over the range from 3-15 feet. Jordan is having a spectacular year from 15-25 feet which is really hard to maintain long term.

Jordan's putting stats are kinda stupid really. His ranking in putting gets better the further away from the hole he gets on putts.

65% from 4-8', ranked 163rd (187 attempts)

31% from 10-15', ranked 80th (117 attempts)

He's an amazing lag putter averaging just under 2' from the hole.

He should get a copy of Lowest Score Wins and start working on his 15' and in putting ;)

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I never knew DJ has a reputation as a great putter....


Yeah I caught that too. Was that ever really a commonly accepted thought about Johnson's game? Granted, I don't follow PGA tour stats too closely, so I was unaware that DJ was near the top of their putting stats. But amongst the golf commentators that I've seen, most of the talk about him was how about how good he could be if this short game ever caught up to the long game.

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I never knew DJ has a reputation as a great putter....

Yeah I caught that too. Was that ever really a commonly accepted thought about Johnson's game?

Might be based on the thinking that if he's one of the best players in the world, then he's also an elite putter. "Driver for show, putt for dough" type of thing.

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Might be based on the thinking that if he's one of the best players in the world, then he's also an elite putter. "Driver for show, putt for dough" type of thing.

Broadie is basing off putts/GIR and putts/round, which he's ranked 4th and 24th in, respectively. It's misleading if you only follow the traditional stats. Funny enough, anybody who has seen him putt knows he's not an elite putter, even without the advanced statistics.

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Broadie is basing off putts/GIR and putts/round, which he's ranked 4th and 24th in, respectively. It's misleading if you only follow the traditional stats. Funny enough, anybody who has seen him putt knows he's not an elite putter, even without the advanced statistics.


Yeah, DJ definitely doesn't pass the eye test when it comes to putting. One of the times when the advanced stats backs up what we're actually seeing.

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With that said, I don't think SGP is perfect- it only accounts for distance and not the difficulty of the putts you have. Not every 3 foot, 7 foot, or 27 foot putt is created equal. Some players do a better job leaving themselves easier putts.

Those types of things tend to balance themselves out. Not enough to say the rankings or numbers are perfect, but enough to say they're within a few spots of being the proper ranking. You can't consistently leave yourself 20 footers downhill all year while someone else always has the slightly uphill right-to-left putts people like.

Plus, distance is BY FAR the most important thing when it comes to making a putt, whether it's downhill or uphill. It's not like they have a bunch of SUPER downhill "just touch it and hope it stops within three feet of the hole" type of putts. AND downhill putts are somewhat less sensitive to line than uphill putts.

So it balances itself out.

Jordan is a good putter, but I contend he is merely having a great year and is not truly a great putter. His performance from 3-5 feet is the most concerning for me. Typically consistently great putters (Luke Donald, Tiger (of 2000-2008), Brad Faxon) are excellent from 3-5 feet and really really good over the range from 3-15 feet. Jordan is having a spectacular year from 15-25 feet which is really hard to maintain long term.

I sent this tweet out to Brandel Chamblee, because he was saying something about that weird 15-25 foot range too.

There's a reason 15-25 footers are SV①. Look at the list of who leads in putting those year over year. It changes often .

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There's a reason 15-25 footers are SV①. Look at the list of who leads in putting those year over year. It changes often.

His 20-25 FT is kinda stupid good this year.

Lets say he regresses to last year's percentages on 15'-25' putts. He would lose only 0.17 strokes per round.

If he improved his inside 15' putting he could stand to gain upwards of 0.3-0.4 strokes per round. Give him an extra stroke at the end of a tournament and he might win a few more.

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