As golfers, we strive for improvement in every aspect of our game, and putting is undeniably one of the most critical skills. While many golfers traditionally measure their putting performance by counting putts per round, this method lacks the context necessary to accurately evaluate their performance.
Enter strokes gained putting—an innovative approach that revolutionises the way we measure and understand different areas of our game. In this blog, we will explore why strokes gained putting is a game-changer, providing a deeper insight into our performance and enabling us to practise smarter, and unlock our full putting potential.
What is strokes gained?
Strokes gained is a statistical metric used in golf to measure a player's performance relative to the field. It provides a comprehensive and objective way to evaluate a golfer's skills by comparing their performance on specific shots or aspects of the game to a baseline or average performance of other golfers.
Strokes gained was popularised by Mark Broadie, a professor at Columbia Business School, who introduced the concept in his book "Every Shot Counts." The concept revolves around the idea that not all shots are created equal, and the traditional statistics like fairways hit or greens in regulation do not capture the full picture of a golfer's performance.
Strokes gained calculates the difference in expected number of strokes to hole out between a golfer and the average performance of other golfers from the same location on the course. It takes into account factors such as distance, lie, angle, and difficulty to determine the expected number of strokes needed to hole out. By comparing a player's performance to this baseline, strokes gained quantifies the impact of each shot on the golfer's score.
Strokes gained can be calculated for different aspects of the game, including driving, approach shots, short game (chipping and pitching), and putting. It provides a more accurate and precise measure of a player's performance, allowing for better analysis, strategy development, and identification of areas for improvement.
For example, if a golfer gains 1 stroke in putting, it means they are performing 1 shot better on the greens compared to the average performance of other golfers. Conversely, a negative strokes gained value indicates that a golfer is performing worse than the average.
Strokes gained has revolutionised the way golfers, coaches, and analysts analyse performance. It provides valuable insights into the strengths and weaknesses of a player's game, helps in making informed decisions on strategy and practice, and enables golfers to focus their efforts on areas that will have the greatest impact on their scores.
I. The Limitations of Counting Putts per Round:
Counting putts per round has been a longstanding method to assess putting performance. However, it falls short in providing the necessary context to truly understand our abilities. Merely counting putts does not account for crucial factors such as the distance of each putt, the difficulty of the greens, or the skill required to sink putts from different lengths. Without considering these variables, putts per round can be misleading and fail to accurately represent our true putting ability.
II. Strokes Gained Putting: A Comprehensive Measurement:
Strokes gained putting introduces a more comprehensive and nuanced approach to evaluating putting performance. Instead of focusing solely on the number of putts, strokes gained putting takes into account multiple factors, including distance, difficulty, and performance relative to other golfers. This statistical analysis provides a more accurate representation of our putting performance, allowing us to assess our skills in a more precise and meaningful manner.
III. The Power of Context:
Context is crucial in accurately measuring and understanding our putting performance. Strokes gained putting provides the necessary context by assigning value to putts based on distance. For example, sinking a long putt from 50 feet is much less likely than sinking a short putt from 6 feet. By factoring in the distance of each putt, strokes gained putting allows us to evaluate our performance more accurately and identify specific areas that require improvement.
IV. Data-Driven Improvement:
One of the significant advantages of strokes gained putting is its data-driven nature. Using apps like Up Game or Arccos, we can track and measure our strokes gained putting against professionals or any desired handicap level. This data empowers us to make informed decisions about our practice routines, identify strengths and weaknesses, and develop targeted strategies for improvement. By utilising strokes gained putting as a benchmark, we can focus our efforts on areas that will have the most significant impact on our overall putting performance.
V. Elevating Your Putting Performance:
Embracing strokes gained putting allows us to unlock our full potential on the greens. It provides us with a more accurate assessment of our abilities, enabling us to set realistic goals, track progress, and make informed decisions about our training and practice. By understanding our strokes gained putting data, we can fine-tune our approach, address weaknesses, and enhance our overall performance on the putting surface.
Sometimes what you think you needs most attention is wrong. Here’s an example.
I played 18 holes at The Vintage in Hunter Valley last year. I shot +1 and came off the course feeling like I should’ve been under par for the round. When I simply thought about my round, I remember being in most fairways and hitting most greens. I particularly felt like my ball striking with my driver was good. I also remembered having a couple of 3 putts which seemed to damage my score.
My immediate thought was, I putted badly. In years gone by, as a young aspiring golfer with no strokes gained stats apps, I would’ve seen how many 3 putts I had or how many total putts I had and gone straight to the putting green to sort it out.
However, when I entered my shots into Up Game, a stats app which provides valuable strokes gained data, I noticed the biggest issue was actually my approach play. I wasn’t hitting my approach shots close enough to the pin. I hit a lot of greens but definitely didn't hit it close enough. Therefore I was leaving myself with very long putts which statistically, I was more likely to 3 putt than 1 putt.
So the lesson here is, sometimes what you feel or what you think immediately after a round is wrong. Once I’d entered my shots into the app, it was clear that my iron play needed the most work. This would’ve saved a lot of wasted practice time around 20 years ago!
G60 Performance Phase
This data driven approach is how I work with players in the performance phase of the G60 program. We don’t just fix swings and leave it there. Becoming better at golf ultimately means learning how to apply your improved skill and technique to the golf course, analyse performance properly and work on the most important areas to help reduce your scores.
To start your G60 journey, tap the button below and book a call to discuss the best plan for you.