Many apps and websites have been designed to collect and analyse these major golf statistics. After (or during) a round, a golfer simply enters the stats and, once the numbers are crunched, the data reveals a detailed, insightful story about the golfer’s strengths and weaknesses on the course.
Or does it?
“Lies, Damned Lies and (golf) Statistics”
The truth is, many of the traditional statistics don’t tell an accurate story, and may actually be telling you the opposite of what you need to know.
“Even if you hit more fairways, hit more greens and have fewer putts, your score can still actually go up,” explains Stuart Leong, co-founder of ShotsToHole.com, a high-performance golf statistics, analysis, training and player management tool.
“For example, you could hit 18 greens in a round, but putt poorly. You could hit more fairways, but be on the wrong sides, with poor angles to the green. You might even be better off on some holes missing the fairway to get a better approach.”
Total Putts, too, is a stat that doesn’t always ring true, Leong says.
“You could have 38 putts and be putting well, or you could have 27 putts and putt horribly. If you miss every green, you should be able to chip the ball close to the hole; if this is the case, 27 putts may not be a good putting day. Likewise, 36-38 putts can be a great day: if you’re 25-40 feet from the hole, and two-putt from that distance, you’re world class. Elite amateurs will three-putt that about 8-9 per cent of the time, while the average 90-shooter will three-putt between 33-50 per cent of the time from this distance.”
During his early career as a touring professional, Leong began to discover that certain statistics weren’t representative of his game.
“I kept pretty extensive data as I played. I found that when I hit more than 14 greens in regulation, my score actually went up. So I started to question everything that I’d been practicing for my entire golfing career. Everything (previously) had been about trying to hit as many greens as possible, which, when I look back at it now, was stupid.
“So I came up with some different ways of analysing the data.”
A better story through better metrics
Working with Paul Messner, Leong (who has held positions including Manager of the PGA Learning Centre at the PGA National Office at Sandhurst Club, Manager of Coaching Programs for the PGA of Australia and currently Technology Director for Golf Australia, and one of the GA National Coaches) began designing a complex stats program which threw out the conventional wisdom of the “fairways and greens” mentality. Together, they developed ShotsToHole.com, a web/cloud-based data collection tool. The system allows golfers and coaches to measure and analyse over 70 golf stats, set and track goals, monitor progress and more.
“With this data, a coach can tell you exactly what you need. They could tell you that if you hit it X feet closer to the hole, then you’ll save X number of shots in a round.
“The average person that shoots 90-100: if they hit it just 70cm closer from 20-40 yards away, they are going to save nearly a shot. If that same golfer can hole just four per cent more putts from 3-40 feet, they are going to save .8 of a shot. Hit it 4 yards closer from 80 to 140 yards, you’re going to save a shot. Six yards closer from 140 to 200 yards, you’ll save a shot. If you hit it 10 yards further, you’re going to save 1.1 shots. Driving it 10 yards further could be as simple as a buying a new driver and getting it fit, matching a golf ball or it could be a long term project involving developing your body and or technique.
“This kind of information lends itself to a different kind of lesson and approach. A coach might put together activities to help you become aware of how far you hit the ball, or things to control the trajectory, etc. Skills that are specific to help your scoring.”
ShotsToHole.com has been adopted by many Tour players. PGA TOUR pro Patrick Reed—having worked on specific skill sets to improve aspects of his game uncovered by the system—recently shot three rounds of 9-under-par 63 in January’s Human Challenge, helping him capture his second victory in nine tournaments.
But the system isn’t limited to tour players.
“We’ve signed up every elite golfer under Golf Australia and the State programs. We’ve even got 10 and 12-year-old boys and girls using the system on their phone, typically it takes them 6 minutes to capture a round after their game.”
“You can get your data any way you like. There are nearly three million shots in the database, so you can compare your data to golfers of a similar level and see how your skills actually compare to others. ”
NOTE: Inside Golf is currently trialling the ShotsToHole.com system. Click here to read our findings.