Thursday, March 10, 2011

Driver Fitting and Lower Scores

I am currently in the process of doing a large statistical research project based on PGA Tour statistics and trying to figure out ‘what parts of the game really matter.’

One of the things discussed here is Trackman and its driver fitting.

With statistics, often times the answer is not clear cut and you have to infer and draw some conclusions, test those conclusions out and then draw some conclusions on top of that. But from what my preliminary figures show me, good driver fitting can play a big role in reducing scores.

One of the things I tried to see the correlation between was the stats ‘Carry Efficiency’ and driver accuracy.

Carry efficiency takes the golfers average carry on a driver divided by their average driver clubhead speed.

In 2009, here were the top 10 in ‘carry efficiency.’

1. Vijay Singh
2. Webb Simpson
3. Anthony Kim
4. Darron Stiles
5. Robert Garrigus
6. Steve Marino
7. Mark Wilson
8. Harrison Frazar
9. Kevin Sutherland
10. Ryan Palmer

What I’ve found though is that Carry Efficiency has no correlation either way with driving accuracy. I’ve also used a different statistic like ‘Proximity from the Edge of the Fairway’ which is measured when the golfer misses the green. Essentially, if you are bad or good with carry efficiency, it doesn’t have any real correlation to being more accurate or less accurate off the tee. Which is the opposite of what some teachers have told us.

The real question is *if* a golfer *improves* their carry efficiency, will they be more accurate or less accurate than before?

Another statistic I’ve fooled around with is something I call ‘Advanced Total Driving.’ Most of us have heard of the statistic called ‘Total Driving’ (Driving Distance Ranking + Fwy % Ranking). Total Advanced Driving takes Driving Distance Ranking + Fwy % Ranking + Proximity to Edge of Fairway Ranking.

In 2009, the top 10 in ‘Total Advanced Driving’ were:

1. Hunter Mahan
2. Kenny Perry
3. Heath Slocum
4. Kirk Triplett
5. David Toms
6. Boo Weekley
7. Tommy Armour III
8. Robert Allenby
9. Lucas Glover
10.Zach Johnson

As far as one single component of the game, I’ve found it to have a pretty strong correlation to Adjusted Stroke Average on the PGA Tour. And like I said, I’m still in the preliminary stages of this research project as this is a formula that will need to be tweaked a bit.

Another statistic I’ve fooled around with is to try and determine who ‘gets the most out of’ their swing speed.

Now, carry efficiency helps determine who gets the most carry distance out of their swing speed. But somebody who carries it far for their swing speed, but doesn’t hit it accurately isn’t really maxing out their driver.

So I took what I call ‘Carry and Advanced Accuracy Efficiency.’

This takes Carry Efficiency, % Fairways Hit, and Proximity to the Edge of the fairway. The top 10 in 2009 were.

1. David Toms
2. Heath Slocum
3. Glen Day
4. Darron Stiles
5. John Mallinger
6. Kirk Triplett
7. Brandt Snedeker
8. Zach Johnson
9. Brian Davis
10. Kenny Perry

What I’ve found is that Carry and Accuracy Efficiency correlates to Total Advanced Driving. So the better you are at one on the PGA Tour it’s likely you’ll be better at the other. If you’re worse at one, you’re likely to be worse at the other.

Again, Total Advanced Driving doesn’t exactly equate to better scores on Tour. But as far as just *one* component of the game goes…it does a pretty good job.

I think we have to remember that while the PGA Tour players have access to great clubfitters and have plenty of resources to get the best clubs possible, many of them ‘go by feel.’ There’s plenty of PGA Tour players with extremely low launch angles who don’t hit a lot of fairways and do not have a good carry efficiency. My hunch is that not every one of these golfers hits too far down with the driver, but rather they are probably playing with a club that doesn’t have enough loft and/or the shaft doesn’t fit their swing as well as another shaft could And I believe that a better fitted driver would make them a lot more money without anything else changing.

The same for the regular golfer as well. The key is getting properly fit.



Paul said...

Rich, you are amazing, and I love how you think. Wish I knew how you get all your info. Thanks again for the Ted Fort recommendation. Things are going well.

Phil said...

Great article, thanks!

That driving fitting is amazing and I need one NOW! I am hitting my driver very solidly but not getting the distance I should. Something's not quite right.

andrewnorrby said...

I was at a titleist fitting a week or so ago and left feeling pretty disillusioned about the entire thing as the fitter said with my numbers he basically couldn't fit me. My problem was that I launched the ball too low but spun it a lot.

My driver speed is fine, up at 108 mph according to trackman. My smash factor was also in the high 1.4s

My main complaint is why don't I drive it further given those stats? I feel and the operator said its because I have a negative attack angle but how do I change this?

Thanks as ever.