Moneyball golf: how statistics are helping pro golfers

July 29, 2013

Love stats? Love golf? You’re gonna love this.

ball+on+teeI’ve been meaning to share this great article for weeks as it keeps coming up in conversation on the golf course.

Josh Sens at Golf.com wrote on the impact that statistics is playing on the way professional golfers play the game. The level of statistics acquired for each PGA Tour golfer is now more detailed than ever before and it’s revealing new information on course management.

Golfers have always had an affinity for data. But the game’s new gurus aren’t merely filling spreadsheets with the same old figures, which they widely regard as flawed. “The problem with the old stats is that they’re myopic,” Sanders says. “They offer one-dimensional answers to multidimensional questions.”

Take fairways hit. Although a measure of success in one component of the game, it makes no distinction between a drive pushed in the rough and a more damaging tee ball duck-hooked out of bounds. Or greens in regulation, which rewards a sand wedge flubbed to 30 feet but ignores a 4-iron from 200 yards that settles on the collar, five feet from the pin.

Sometimes what they reveal isn’t surprising (bombing the ball really is an advantage!). But many stats-based revelations have upturned old assumptions. (Laying up on a par 5 to your favorite distance is the smart play, right? Wrong. On balance, it’s better to go for it in two.)

Check out the full piece over at Golf.com.

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