"Strokes gained guru Mark Broadie’s pioneering analytics have radically altered the game"

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Nice work by Golf Magazine’s Josh Sens to profile strokes gained creator and professor Mark Broadie as the stat has become more mainstream than ever.

Here’s a fun one I found in preparing for today’s Alternate Shot topic of best comeback win in 2018: Keegan Bradley is 174th in strokes gained putting heading to the Tour Championship following his win at the BMW Championship. Where, amazingly, he lead the field in strokes gained putting according to the numbers gurus at ShotLink:

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While that number may be foreign still to a lot of fans, more and more people are understanding that the numbers say Bradley did something both impressive for the week and astounding given his season-long performance on the green.

For that kind of wisdom and satisfaction as fans in knowing something just a little bit deeper about the performance, we have Broadie’s work to thank. So for those who don’t know his story, check out the piece. And for those who do, I’m clipping this nugget as a tantalizing possibility on the stats front:

As for future projections for golf analytics, Broadie sees nearly boundless opportunity for exploration, limited only by the availability of good data. One area he has in mind is strokes-gained categories that account for factors such as wind, turf conditions and the contours of a shot. Another is quantifying performance under pressure, a topic Broadie has been working on of late. He believes he’s onto something.

“For mental toughness, the only stat that attempts to measure it is bounce-back,” he says. “And I think there are better ways.”


Flogging: It Works For Tiger

On Mike Vitti's PGATour.com ShotLink blog (scroll down to find the post), he breaks down an interesting new "percentage-of-distance-covered-by" stat that validates the flogging approach, at least for Tiger Woods.

So, for example, if a player hits a 300-yard drive on a hole measuring 450 yards the percentage of drive covered is 300 yards/450 yards or 66.7 percent. The 2006 TOUR average for this statistic is 61.7 percent for all driving holes. On par 4s the percentage rises to 65.6 percent, while on par 5s it drops to 52.1 percent.

He brings the stat up to look at Tiger possibly using driver less often: 

Judging by his results at Royal Liverpool, it appears that Woods should do whatever he can to find the fairway, and not worry about distance. However using the distance covered percentage on par 4s as the counter to this argument, accuracy in lieu of distance may not be Woods' best option. Consider the following from par-4 statistics by Tiger Woods:

2005-2006 Tiger Woods Par-4 Scoring
Drive Covers at least 67% of Hole Yardage   Drive Less than 67% of Yardage
Total Drives                 465                                                 341
Under Par                    130 (28.0%)                                     47 (13.8%)
Over Par                      45 (9.7%)                                        62 (18.2%)

In 2005-2006, Woods had 465 drives on par 4s where he covered at least 67 percent of the distance of the hole from off the tee. In these instances, he was able to make birdie or better 28 percent of the time. On the drives where Woods did not reach this mark, he only made birdie or better 18.2 percent of the time, and he also had a higher rate of over-par scores in these situations.

Then he looks at drives landing in fairway v. rough.

2005-2006 Tiger Woods Par-4 Scoring
Drive Covering at least 67%, Out of the Fairway  Drive Less than 67%, In Fairway
Total Drives                         211                                               193
Under Par                            41(19.4%)                                      36(18.7%)
Over Par                             30 (14.2%)                                     16 (8.3%)

2005-2006 Tiger Woods Par-4 Scoring
Drive Covering at least 67%, In the Fairway   Drive Less than 67%, Out of Fairway

Total Drives                           254                                               148
Under Par                              89 (35.0%)                                     11 (7.4%)
Over Par                                15 (5.9%)                                       46 (31.1%)

The conclusion:

Out of the rough on longer drives Woods has about as good a chance of making birdie as he does from the fairway on shorter ones, and more importantly, if he misses the fairway on a shorter drive he has a much greater chance of making bogey. If you are thinking that his accuracy with the shorter club should be greater than with the longer one, look at the numbers again. Woods' accuracy on drives that travel at least 67 percent of the fairway is around 55 percent while the accuracy rate for drives less than 67 percent is only around 43 percent. So why bring a greater risk of bogey into play if you can avoid it?

So Vitti concludes:

Back to the original argument, on whether Woods should change his strategy, I would say yes - every time he plays Royal Liverpool or a course that dictates that would be the best way to win. Otherwise, I think with 49 career victories, including 11 majors, Woods already knows what approach is best for him. 

Augusta, ShotLink Notes

Two interesting notes from PGA.com: 

MASTERS PREVIEW: Ben Crane is assured of playing in his first Masters (through the PGA Tour money list), and he wasted no time getting his first look at Augusta National.

A week after the club had its fall opening, Crane spent four days at Augusta and played five rounds.

"I hadn't played in a few weeks and wasn't expecting anything,'' he said. "I shot 4-under, made eagle on No. 13. I thought, 'This is no problem.' And I never came close to that the rest of the week.''

For those curious about the latest batch of changes, stretching the course to 7,445 yards, Crane confirmed suspicions that the par-3 fourth hole will be a beast. It has a new tee box some 35 yards longer, making it play about 240 yards. He hit 2-iron one day, and 3-wood the other four times he played.

SHOTLINK: Officials at the Chrysler Championship thought Dennis Paulson had made history as the first player to reach the 605-yard fifth hole in two. According to the Shotlink system, which uses lasers to track every shot by every player, Paulson's second shot went 287 yards and onto the green.

Statistics showed he took two putts for a birdie.

Alas, Shotlink is operated by humans, and humans do err.

"I was through the green,'' Paulson said, noting that his 3-wood went just beyond the fringe into the first cut. Told that Shotlink had him taking two putts, he rolled his eyes and said, "Great. As if my putting stats weren't bad enough.''

It wasn't the first time Paulson has been subjected to a Shotlink mix-up. At the Reno-Tahoe Open, he said the system operators had him mistaken for playing partner Paul Goydos throughout the round.

"One hole, they had Goydos 70 yards past me,'' he said. "My driving distance average went down that week.''