One of the topics that has been garnering a lot of debate on message boards is ‘optimization’ vs. ‘precision/accuracy.’
One of the questions I had over at Brian Manzella’s forum is if his ‘Anti-Summit’ was based on optimization or was it based on precision/accuracy? I plan on purchasing the Anti-Summit video later this month and will review it. It can be found at http://www.brianmanzella.com/forum/golfi....it-i-video.html
From what I have gathered, it’s geared towards optimization. It seems like his panel of experts prefer in optimization as well.
With regards to golf, optimization means to me to be able to hit the best possible golf shot. I believe that most of the time, the optimal shot is a straight shot. Now, playing a draw or a fade is something that golfers tend to feel they can rely on more, but I think *most* of the time, if one could count on hitting it dead straight.
In other words, my interpretation of ‘optimization’ is if Jimmy Jack typically hits his driver 250 yards long with a draw, but had the potential to hit it 325 yards long…if he ‘optimized’ his swing he would be able to hit it 325 yards long and dead straight quite often.
Precision basically means ‘consistency.’ However, it doesn’t quite mean ‘accuracy.’ If I hit 10 shots and all 10 shots miss the target by 50 yards but are within a small grouping of each other, that is still ‘precise.’ It’s just not accurate.
Conversely, if I hit shots that are somewhat close to the target, but some are left of the target, some are right, some are short, some are long, etc….that’s accurate, but not exactly ‘precise.’
Thus, we are discussing ‘precision/accuracy’ or ‘consistently accurate.’
So when I think of a golfer with a precision/accurate swing that is not optimized, we would say that Jimmy Jack has the potential to hit it 325 yards, but he hits it the most consistently accurate when he hits it 250 yards.
SENDEN VS. MATTESON
One method of ‘optimizing’ the driver is to change your Angle of Attack. If a golfer takes the same swing, but changes the Angle of Attack, that will typically cause differences in distance.
A great example of this happened this past year with PGA Tour players John Senden and Troy Matteson.
According to PGATour.com, both Senden and Matteson averaged the same clubhead speed with the driver throughout the year (116.9 mph). However, Matteson averaged 296.3 yards off the tee (ranking 22nd) and Senden averaged 290.2 yards off the tee (ranking 72nd). That’s a difference in 50 ranking points in driving distance despite having the same clubhead speed.
The big difference between Matteson and Senden is the launch angle of their drives. According to PGATour.com, Matteson’s avg. launch angle in 2010 was 11.1*. Senden’s was 8.9*. This allowed Matteson to carry the ball further.
PGATour.com does not have attack angle stats on hand for their players, but I would assume that Troy Matteson has a shallower attack angle than Senden’s (and probably an upward attack angle) as Matteson uses a Titleist driver with 8.5* of loft and Senden uses a Titleist driver with 9.5* loft, yet Matteson’s launch angle is 2.1* higher than Senden’s.
However, Matteson finished hitting 60.4% of his fairways in 2010 (ranking 142nd) vs. Senden hitting 67.2% of his fairways (finishing 46th).
So Matteson, with the driver, is more geared towards ‘optimization’ while Senden with the driver is more geared towards ‘accuracy/precision.’
Category…………John Senden…Troy Matteson
Awhile ago Slate.com posted an article on ‘Moneygolf’ (http://smartpei.typepad.com/robert_patersons_weblog/moneyball.jpg), a statistical method to more accurately depict a PGA Tour golfer’s skill set as it pertains to the rest of the PGA Tour.
One of the things discussed in the article is that the majority of the time, the golfers who are the best from 175-250 yards out typically do the best over the season. Essentially, the golfer who can get the golf ball closest to the hole consistently from that distance will likely do the best over time.
Here’s where the debate happens.
This does NOT mean that accuracy/precision is the way to go.
Just because you’re typically accurate and precise throughout a round of golf, doesn’t mean you’re accurate and precise from 175-250 yards.
Because it’s typically easier to be more accurate when you’re hitting less club.
Let’s say Dustin Johnson has a 7-iron in his hand from 210 yards out and Omar Uresti has a 4-iron from 210 yards out, chances are Uresti is going to have his work cut out for him. And remember, they may have very tough lies, lie a downhiller with water in front. Personally, I’d prefer to go into that green with a 7-iron if I could than a 4-iron.
Also, distance off the tee plays a factor. Let’s say Uresti and Johnson are playing a 520 yard par-5. Uresti could bust a 280 yard driver and have 240 yards in. Johnson could bust a 350 yard driver and have 180 yards in. And now Uresti might be hitting a 3-wood into the green whereas Johnson is using a 7-iron.
Anyway, here’s the top 20 players in the world now according to the Sony World Rankings. I’ve put their driving distance in 2010 and their rank next to them.
1. Lee Westwood
2. Tiger Woods
3. Martin Kaymer
4. Phil Mickelson (299.1, 13th)
5. Graeme McDowell
6. Jim Furyk (276.0, 179th)
7. Steve Stricker (282.9, 134th)
8. Paul Casey (294.2, 35th)
9. Luke Donald (277.0, 177th)
10. Rory McIlroy (300.0, 12th)
11. Ian Poulter (286.8, 109th)
12. Ernie Els (288.8, 90th)
13. Matt Kuchar (286.9, 105th)
14. Retief Goosen (291.4, 60th)
15. Dustin Johnson (308.5, 3rd)
16. Francisco Molinari
17. Robert Karlsson
18. Eduardo Molinari
19. Hunter Mahan (291.8, 57th)
20. Robert Allenby (289.1, 82nd)
In the end I think it’s really a case of the ‘optimizers’ striving to add precision with their optimization and the ‘precision/accuracy’ golfers trying to add some optimization to their game.