(Tour Averages in RED are educated estimates as these specific numbers are not available)
Dustin Johnson did more than a few things right to squeak out a 1-stroke victory at the FedEx St. Jude Classic. Not the least of which was his fortuitous birdie - birdie - par finish while other notable contenders stumbled home.
Dustin's long game was solid. He hit 12.5 GIR's with only two long game errors. When he missed the GIR, his Scrambling percentage was excellent at 77%. While I view this to be a very important stat, I see it as a scoring stat much more than the short game measure that I believe it was intended to be long ago. Why? It concerns only instances when the GIR was not achieved. This omits a significant number of short game opportunities and includes holes that don't involve a short game shot. The following situations are not considered in this stat:
- Short game shots to save birdie on par 5 holes. 50 years ago, it was the exception for players to hit on or around par 5 holes in two. Today, it is more the rule. The Tour average for Going for Par 5 holes in two is 50%. Longer players, like Dustin Johnson, go for it 65% or more.
- Short game shots to save birdie on short par 4 holes. Today, most courses have one of these potentially reachable par 4's.
- Missed GIR's due to long game errors which do not involve short game shots.
To support my point, here is a breakdown of Dustin's 25 short game shots at TPC Southwind:
- To save birdie: 6 (not included in Scrambling)
- To save par: 18 (included in the Scrambling)
- To save bogey: 1 (not included in Scrambling)
I find that Proximity to Hole (ARG) affords a much more reliable picture of the short game. Definition: The average distance to the hole (in feet) after hitting the ball onto the putting surface from around the green. (Note: 'Around the green' indicates the player is withing 30 yards of the edge of the green.)
I have two minor issues with this stat:
- It does not include shots that miss the green. These ERRORS HAPPEN (see chart above), and they impact scoring but are totally lost in the Tour's stats.
- 30 yards from the edge of the green can be as much as 60 - 70 yards from the hole. I would prefer the distance range be measured from the hole.
That said, it still provides valuable perspective. Dustin found the putting surface with 24 of his 25 attempts and his average putting distance was a precious 2' 9" closer than the average of the field. The average 1-Putt percentages from these distances are significant - just under 5 strokes on Dustin's 24 opportunities:
- Dustin - 4' 7" (call it 5 feet) = 73%
- Field - 7' 4" (call it 7 feet) = 53%