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Golfers are Getting Better, Handicaps are Dropping

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7 hours ago, Righty to Lefty said:

Two words Zion Williamson...I'll just leave that there...

Okay. It's worth virtually nothing. You just named one person.

7 hours ago, Righty to Lefty said:

the reason why I feel that the bigger faster stronger statement is relevant to this topic is because it is proof that golfers have to be improving because the athletes are starting out more physically dominant and thus if these athletes are choosing golf, which they are among other sports, then golfers are getting better, especially as you move up through the levels towards playing on tour.

The fact remains that this doesn't change remarkably in 20 years.

7 hours ago, Righty to Lefty said:

The Pro golfers are better than they were a generation ago absolutely.

Fields are deeper, but marginally. Nowhere near what you seem to be intimating.

7 hours ago, Righty to Lefty said:

Lebron James was 6 foot 8 250 when he entered the league...Zion Williamson is 6 foot 6 285 with just as much athletic talent if not more in just one generation. Cameron Champ is golf's proof of that in one generation in golf as he is 20 yards by Dustin Johnson.  

It's one person, dude.

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On 12/9/2018 at 12:35 AM, iacas said:

Okay. It's worth virtually nothing. You just named one person.

The fact remains that this doesn't change remarkably in 20 years.

Fields are deeper, but marginally. Nowhere near what you seem to be intimating.

It's one person, dude.

The evidence is all around you should you choose to accept it or not and golf isn't the only sport that is experiencing this. The gap between the best and the worst players, especially in Pro sports, is ever decreasing and this is fact.  It is more difficult to be a Pro or College athlete than it was 20 years ago and it is becoming more difficult everyday.  Technology, coaching, and training are without question better than 20 years ago. Bigger, faster, and stronger athletes are also choosing golf and a 6'2" 180 lb golfer simply has a better chance to make it to the pros in relation to a 5'8" 160 lb golfer if  they are both being introduced to the game at the same time and being exposed to the same training modalities. That is why the NFL combine exists because the foundation of sport is based on measurables. The bigger, faster, and stronger athletes have the best chance to succeed in sport. Not saying they will...but they have the best chance to succeed.     

Even if the fields are marginally better...the fact is...it is harder to be dominant now than it was 20 years ago because golfers are better so those margins are harder to overcome. It all trickles down from the top and makes it tougher to succeed at all levels of the sport.  Corey Pavin doesn't even exist on tour in today's day and age because hitting it 250 doesn't cut it on tour today.  Not when there are videos of 13 year old on youtube shooting 63 from the tips at respected golf courses in sanctioned tournaments while hitting it 290 yards off the tee. That shift has happened within one generation of the sport and all sport right before out eyes.  

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7 hours ago, Righty to Lefty said:

The evidence is all around you should you choose to accept it or not and golf isn't the only sport that is experiencing this. The gap between the best and the worst players, especially in Pro sports, is ever decreasing and this is fact.  It is more difficult to be a Pro or College athlete than it was 20 years ago and it is becoming more difficult everyday.  Technology, coaching, and training are without question better than 20 years ago. Bigger, faster, and stronger athletes are also choosing golf and a 6'2" 180 lb golfer simply has a better chance to make it to the pros in relation to a 5'8" 160 lb golfer if  they are both being introduced to the game at the same time and being exposed to the same training modalities. That is why the NFL combine exists because the foundation of sport is based on measurables. The bigger, faster, and stronger athletes have the best chance to succeed in sport. Not saying they will...but they have the best chance to succeed.     

Even if the fields are marginally better...the fact is...it is harder to be dominant now than it was 20 years ago because golfers are better so those margins are harder to overcome. It all trickles down from the top and makes it tougher to succeed at all levels of the sport.  Corey Pavin doesn't even exist on tour in today's day and age because hitting it 250 doesn't cut it on tour today.  Not when there are videos of 13 year old on youtube shooting 63 from the tips at respected golf courses in sanctioned tournaments while hitting it 290 yards off the tee. That shift has happened within one generation of the sport and all sport right before out eyes.  

You’re confused or don’t know the definition of some words or something.

I have never said whatever you’re refuting up there. I’ve used words like “appreciably.”

”Appreciable” change does not occur in one generation.

There are other better topics here to discuss this as this one is about average golfers being better now than they were.

Second time I’ve had to say that.

 

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Thinking about this got me to do some simple math:

If you assume that there are 6 million male golfers with handicaps, which is likely low, and you assume that 1.5 million are much more athletic than 20 years ago, which is likely high, then the "more athletic" crowd would have to improve 8 shots over the last 20 years to account for all of the 2 stroke improvement.  Doesn't seem likely.

Similarly, if you look at one of my favorite theories, that the golfers who left the game were worse than average and you assume that there were 7.2 million golfers 20 years ago, then the golfers who left the game would have had an average handicap of over 26 to account for all of the 2 stroke improvement. As much as I like this idea it doesn't seem likely (note that the average of those who left would only have to be 21.5 or 19.0 to account for 1 or .5 stroke improvement - much more realistic).

So I have come to the conclusion that:

  1. Golfers in general have likely gotten better
  2. There are likely multiple factors involved with the improvement.

Of course all of this assumes that there isn't some sort of bias in the course rating system used to develop handicaps, sort of like grade inflation at colleges.  If course ratings have gotten harder but the courses in actuality haven't, that would statistically improve handicaps. Personally I think that this could be a stretch but it could then again be one of many factors involved.

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20 minutes ago, gbogey said:

Of course all of this assumes that there isn't some sort of bias in the course rating system used to develop handicaps, sort of like grade inflation at colleges.  If course ratings have gotten harder but the courses in actuality haven't, that would statistically improve handicaps. Personally I think that this could be a stretch but it could then again be one of many factors involved.

Course ratings have ever so slightly dropped (relative to their length) over the last 20 years. Very, very little, mind you, but no, they haven't gone up.

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2 hours ago, gbogey said:

Thinking about this got me to do some simple math:

If you assume that there are 6 million male golfers with handicaps, which is likely low, and you assume that 1.5 million are much more athletic than 20 years ago, which is likely high, then the "more athletic" crowd would have to improve 8 shots over the last 20 years to account for all of the 2 stroke improvement.  Doesn't seem likely.

Similarly, if you look at one of my favorite theories, that the golfers who left the game were worse than average and you assume that there were 7.2 million golfers 20 years ago, then the golfers who left the game would have had an average handicap of over 26 to account for all of the 2 stroke improvement. As much as I like this idea it doesn't seem likely (note that the average of those who left would only have to be 21.5 or 19.0 to account for 1 or .5 stroke improvement - much more realistic).

So I have come to the conclusion that:

  1. Golfers in general have likely gotten better
  2. There are likely multiple factors involved with the improvement.

Of course all of this assumes that there isn't some sort of bias in the course rating system used to develop handicaps, sort of like grade inflation at colleges.  If course ratings have gotten harder but the courses in actuality haven't, that would statistically improve handicaps. Personally I think that this could be a stretch but it could then again be one of many factors involved.

I don't really have a perspective on this beyond 2011 or so, but how did the average person 20 years ago play?

I can only say that the average person I play with isn't a total golf dimwit. The average male I play seems to center around 14 strokes. Amongst my regular players, maybe 4 strokes better. We could easily play in under 4 hours in a foursome if we weren't waiting for people? We end up with 5 hour rounds typically.

Were people playing 6 to 7 hour rounds 20 years ago? I ask because the "slow play" phenomenon seems to be "new" at least from what I've observed in blog sites within the last 5 years?

 

Seems like 26 strokes takes a long time for a foursome to play...

Over that is...

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The shaft choices today are mind-boggling.  The ball has changed.  Drivers are bigger and have more ability to hit balls farther than ever.  Courses have throttled back on hazards to promote faster play.  People also tend to post better scores to feel better in these days of instant gratification and social media pressure.

Given all the above, people are probably getting worse at golf.

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3 minutes ago, Puttin4Dough said:

The shaft choices today are mind-boggling.  The ball has changed.  Drivers are bigger and have more ability to hit balls farther than ever.  Courses have throttled back on hazards to promote faster play.  People also tend to post better scores to feel better in these days of instant gratification and social media pressure.

Given all the above, people are probably getting worse at golf.

🤦‍♂️

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This thread has been going a couple of years and has attracted dozens of comments😂

The title contains a factual statement: "handicaps are dropping" and an assertion: "golfers are getting better", which I think is an example of the "post hoc ergo propter hoc" logical fallacy, ie. handicaps are dropping therefore golfers are getting better. We don't actually have enough information to conclude that golfers are getting better, especially that improved instruction is a major factor.  The mere fact that the average handicap has fallen by 2 strokes could be due to any number of things.  I just have one thing to add: it is an indisputable fact that in that time, golfers have spent billions of dollars on new equipment that is claimed to take strokes off their game by being more forgiving of off-center hits and make the ball fly higher and further, indeed, balls that fly higher, further and straighter. Most keen golfers I know, upgrade every few years. If a general improvement in the quality of golfers is the major cause of that 2 stroke drop, what does that say about the golf equipment industry?

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4 hours ago, Dubz said:

We don't actually have enough information to conclude that golfers are getting better, especially that improved instruction is a major factor.

I listed possible reasons why golfers were getting better. “Golfers” refers to those with handicaps, and so they are getting better on average.

I am well aware of how these things can be manipulated. I even listed a reason why golfers might not actually be improving as individuals with the “worse golfers leaving the game” bit.

But then… they’re not golfers anymore.

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5 hours ago, Dubz said:

what does that say about the golf equipment industry?

They're very good at marketing. But we knew that already.

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8 hours ago, iacas said:

I listed possible reasons why golfers were getting better. “Golfers” refers to those with handicaps, and so they are getting better on average.

I am well aware of how these things can be manipulated. I even listed a reason why golfers might not actually be improving as individuals with the “worse golfers leaving the game” bit.

But then… they’re not golfers anymore.

What I said was that handicaps could be improving without golfers actually getting better. By this I meant that various factors, such as clubs and balls could be mostly responsible for the improvement. If you say that this is the same as golfers improving, then we’re just engaging in an argument over semantics. I’m not saying that anything is being manipulated. A reason that golfers might be improving is that the average age of golfers might be dropping (young golfers might have been attracted to the game in the Tiger Woods era, or just better opportunities) and hence their average health and fitness going up. You could argue that this still means that golfers are, on average, improving, which would be right, but then the reason for that average improvement might or might not be down to better instruction. It’s interesting to speculate, but in the absence of hard data, what I said about the thread’s title is right. A golf equipment manufacturer could just as easily have written “our equipment is getting better, handicaps are dropping”.

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4 minutes ago, Dubz said:

What I said was that handicaps could be improving without golfers actually getting better.

I know.

Look, I'm not gonna get too far into this, because I could always claim by "golfers are getting better" technically I just need to know two golfers who are getting better. Right? 🙂 So let's not try to parse the stuff too much.

What we do know as facts are that the average handicap in the U.S. is dropping over the last 20-30 years. We know little else.

5 minutes ago, Dubz said:

I’m not saying that anything is being manipulated.

Hey, we have no idea, really, whether "golfers" as a whole are improving. "Manipulation" might not even be needed.


This thread exists mainly to counter the BS about how "the average handicap hasn't dropped" that some people like to throw out now and then.

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