Sunday, February 22, 2015

What is your 2.0 Putt Distance?

In studying performance at all levels for more than 25 years, I have found that there are two distinct skills needed to become a good putter:  Alignment and Distance Control.  Proper alignment is especially critical in the 1-Putt range.  Distance control is critical to avoid 3-Putts from longer range.  It is important to practice both skills.  I recommend spending 60% to 70% of your practice time on the former, or putts inside 10 ft., with special emphasis on 3, 4 and 5 footers.  I carry the SeeMore Triangulator in my golf bag, and do not let a week go by during the season without using it to sharpen my short putt alignment. 

I like to measure skill levels in these two important skills in terms of the 50% Make distance - the distance at which a player consistently makes 50% of their putts; and, the 2.0 Distance - the distance from which a player averages 2.0 putts.  Simply stated, from your 2.0 distance, you 2-Putt the vast majority.  But when you don't, you 1-Putt and 3-Putt with the same frequency. 

The graph above displays the 2.0 Putt distances for an array of handicap levels.  The 50% Make distances are:
Tour - 8 ft.,  0 Hcp - 7 ft.,  5 to 15 Hcp - 6 ft.  20 Hcp - 5 ft.

Over your next few rounds try to get a feel for where your skills stand.  If you would like to know precisely, log on to and register for our FREE Trial.  We have been providing Strokes Gained Analysis to all golfers since 1992. 

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Why do we NOT include Direction of Missed Shots?

We get this question all the time.  Years ago, a potentially large "partnership" opportunity was lost  simply because we would not add this to our existing analysis.  The answer is simple:  If it is an option, players will not do it with enough consistency for the data to be of value.  If it is mandatory, it is too much extra work and players will not use the program at all.

 How do we know?  Two examples:
1.  It was an option in my original Shot By Shot program.  Players would simply mark little arrows indicating Left, Right, Long or Short when fairways or greens were missed - SIMPLE?  The results were displayed in the analysis of each facet as % of misses in each direction.  We consistently found that the directions were marked with such inconsistency and infrequency that the resulting analysis was worthless.  

2.  A Group of my LPGA players requested direction of miss on putts along with the distance of the 2nd putt.  There was such enthusiasm that we did the programming and created special scorecards.  By the 2nd month, every single player had stopped recording the new putting data.  Why?  Because determining the distance of the 1st putt becomes an integral part of the pre-shot routine.  The direction of miss and 2nd putt distance are afterthoughts and frankly become annoying when focusing on the positive routine of MAKING that 2nd putt.

We recently were sent a new, competitor stat program for review.  We try to keep up with the ever-growing competition.  We set up an "average" test round (an 81) and entered the data in our program and the competitor's to see the differences in work needed by the player vs. analysis/feedback.  We counted every click needed to enter the round with and without our soon to be added Approach shot analysis. 
Total clicks w/o Approach data:  76 clicks
Total clicks with Approach data:  103 clicks

The competition:  451 clicks  - 5 times the work and time to enter the same round.
 It should be noted that their interface required the miss direction for Fairways and Greens. 

In closing, we've learned the hard way that less is more.  It is important to create something that can easily become a part of every player's on-course routine without becoming a distraction.  The best program in the world is useless if players will not do it.

By the way, that potentially big "partner" that dug in their heels about direction of miss, AND started their own stat program, is no longer in business.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A Nice Story!

In the summer of 2012 I was contacted by a young man requesting that I review his stats to help him decide exactly where he needed to improve his golf game.  I am always flattered when users reach out to me for my insight so I responded accordingly asking for his User Name and Password.  He responded that he did not use but would I look at his GolfStat data.  (GolfStat is a competitor program that offers traditional golf statistics.)

My first thought was to suggest that he contact GolfStat, but softie that I am, I agreed and he emailed me a summary of his 2012 season data.  As I suspected, the limitations of the data resulted in limited insight  - his GIR's were very good but the rest of the one-dimensional stats were just numbers.  I felt bad and offered to give him an explanation of why traditional stats don't tell the story and what does differently to provide answers.  I also had to ask:  WHY DID HE REACH OUT TO ME?  He said that he was on the Stanford University golf team and that his coach had the team routinely read my blog and that he was impressed with what he had learned from it.  Again, I was flattered.  But then why wouldn't his coach also use  His response was that his coach is committed to the other program.  I said, Oh well, I understand.

A week later, I received a call from the Stanford coach, Conrad Ray.  His pointed question:  What can I get from that I cannot get elsewhere?  I was prepared and ran down my list.  His next question was how much and when can we start?  Further, when his team had gotten into the program Conrad asked if I would consult periodically to help set improvement goals for the players.  Coach Conrad and his assistant Phil Rowe and I have had some lively and fun conversations during which I reveal what I see as the strengths and weaknesses of each player.  I am also able to throw in the added perspective that I have gained from the PGA Tour's Shotlink data.

Fast forward to yesterday when I had the thrill of watching the aforementioned young man, Cameron Wilson, win the NCAA Division 1 National Championship.  CONGRATULATIONS Cameron!  Keep up your great play thru the match play.
Thanks again for your interest and for contacting me.  I look forward to watching you and perhaps helping you at the next level.     

Monday, April 21, 2014

Kuchar's improbable finish at Harbour Town

A good friend texted me after Matt Kuchar's improbable closing holes to ask:  "Which is more likely, a 3-Putt from 4 ft. or to hole out from a greenside bunker?I do not have this stuff on the top of my head but was intrigued, so looked into ShotLink.

The greenside bunker shot holed is not that uncommon on Tour.  In 2013, there were 252 instances in 20,741 attempts or one in every 82 attempts. 

Since 2003, there have been 499 3-Putts from 4 ft. in 143,788 attempts or one in every 288 attempts. 

If my math is correct, the bunker holed is 3.5 times more likely.  I was not able to calculate the odds that one player would do both on consecutive holes.

Nice to see Kuchar close this one out.

It is interesting to note how the tables turn on these two outcomes as we move into the amateur ranks.  Let's take the average 10 handicap - The 3-Putt from 4 ft. becomes 2.4 times more likely than the hole out from the greenside sand.

3-Putt from 4 ft.:  1 in every 170 attempts
Hole out from greenside sand:  1 in every 408 attempts

Friday, March 7, 2014

Shot of the Year?

Rory's 5-wood to last weekend's final hole of regulation from 245 yards in the fairway was remarkable for many reasons.  Had he made the putt and won the Honda Classic, that approach shot would be in the conversation for best all-time clutch shots.

The announcers did give the shot appropriate praise, but after Rory missed the 11-foot putt and didn't win, it was virtually forgotten.  Tiger used to WOW us with just that kind of pressure shot, but more often than not finished it by making the putt.

By ShotLink standards Rory's shot was great because of its relative proximity to the hole.  The ShotLink average proximity from 225-250 in the fairway is 53 feet.  OK, 11 feet is worlds closer, but it is actually much more than that.  The problem with the "Proximity" stat is that it includes all shots - whether they successfully hit the green or not.  A ball can be 15 feet short and in the water, or 10 feet away and buried under the lip of a bunker - and still be included in the average proximity.

ShotLink also reveals that tour players will hit the green-in-regulation from 200+ yards in 43% of their tries.  This is nice but it mixes all conditions (fairway, rough, bunkers, etc.).  Further, there is a large distance span of attempts greater than 200 yards.   Players are attempting to hit greens from 260+ these days.

I believe the best way to judge Rory's accomplishment is by comparing apples to apples.  Accordingly, I have looked a bit deeper.  The 2013 tour average for greens hit from 225 - 250 yards in the fairway was 36% (just over 1 of every 3).  When successful, the average putting distance from this range was 33 feet.

So Rory's success in hitting the green was impressive, but 11'4" from the pin was over the top, especially under the circumstances, and the looming downside of water short, right and long.  Missed putt notwithstanding, I think it qualifies for Shot of the Year so far.