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"Good Drive Percentage" PGA Statistic Thoughts

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https://www.pgatour.com/stats/stat.02438.2017.html. Below is a screenshot of 2017 leaders. Not exactly the "who's who" of 2017. 


Screen Shot 2017-11-02 at 11.33.09 AM.png


These guys had over 85% of their drives classified as "good."

The worst on tour had somewhere shy of 80%.

When you compare that list to money leaders and to Strokes Gained/Tee to Green, you see very little similarity. See spoiler below for 2017.


Screen Shot 2017-11-02 at 11.40.40 AM.png

Screen Shot 2017-11-02 at 11.40.30 AM.png


Why does this "Good Drive" statistic do so poorly in predicting overall success? Why doesn't it correlate much with Strokes Gained- Tee to Green? Those two lists in the spoiler above have pretty good correlation.

Here's the definition of a "Good Drive," per the PGA:


The percent of time a player hit a good drive. On Par 4 and Par 5's, the number of fairways hit, + the # of Greens or fringe in regulation when the drive was not in the fairway on the tee shot. / by the number of par 4 and par 5's played. (2438)


My thoughts:

  1. The definition allows for the short hitters to be hitting "good" drives, even if they are further back in the fairway. Those players are still getting up and around the green with their approaches (which is all that the stat measures)- and likely ending up with longer putts. So there's a lot of "leeway" in what is good, and perhaps too much leeway to discriminate between the best drives and the worst drives.
  2. There really isn't too much separation from the best to the worst in this stat, rendering it somewhat meaningless. They're all very consistent, as we'd expect at that level. The best have 85% good drives and the worst have 75% good drives. And those are the extremes! The vast majority of players differ by only 5% in their number of good drives. For 5%, that's less than a shot difference in the number of good drives per round, and plenty of room to make that up that difference in the quality of each drive (i.e., length primarily).

Anyway, just felt like posing a question or two about it. Feel free to chime in, if you have thoughts.

The more I think about it, isn't this statistic going to very similar to Near GIR (nGIR)? Basically how often are you on or near the green. I tried to find a PGA statistic on near GIR, but only found a lot of GIR percents by range.


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10 minutes ago, iacas said:

Your two reasons are exactly why this is a pointless stat.

And gives ammunition to wedge whisperers everywhere to say "See, good drives aren't that important! Just look at the players who hit the most good drives!"

Seriously, they ought to just dispose of stats that don't really work out to give us meaningful insights. But then again, it is somewhat insightful to see that hitting the fairway and/or giving yourself a good enough shot to get up near the green in regulation is NOT going to separate you from the field at the PGA level.  This could be used as an argument AGAINST those that say that ya just gotta put it in play on the PGA Tour. Nope, you gotta gain strokes Tee-Green.

Edited by RandallT
changed "toss out" to "dispose of"

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Yep - agree with both your comments. A drive that goes 350 into the heart of the fairway is "good" and a drive that pops up and goes 230 into the fairway is also "good". One of those is FAR better than the other. Also, given the definition for a par five, you can hit your drive virtually anywhere, so long as it's on the golf course and at their level they ought to be on or by the green in regulation. How bad does a drive on a par five have to be to actually be considered a "bad" drive? Consider that there is a good chance that the par fives are where those guys with the high strokes gained tee to green are really differentiating themselves over the jokers out there (ha!)

This is totally useless.

Edited by Ty_Webb

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