originate more than 100 yards from the hole have twice the impact on score of
shots from inside 100 yards—including putting. Long-game results account for
about two-thirds of the variability in scores among golfers on the PGA Tour (the
short game is
glad to see that Mr. Broadie is coming out with a book in 2013. Broadie created
the metric ‘putts gained’ and has far more credentials when it comes to
statistics than I do. I plan on learning quite a bit from the
However, I think where Mr. Broadie may be at a disadvantage is his
golfing experience. I do not believe Mr. Broadie has a lot of experience as a
golfer, nor playing at a high level nor playing at the levels between a beginner
to a +2 handicap. I think that lack of experience will wind up raising some
questions about the applicability of his research.
We’ll have to see what
the book says, but I have issue with merely breaking down the game of golf into
shots from 100+ yards and less than 100 yards. In golf, the shots are really
broken down into much more categories than that.
1) Driving off the tee
on par-4’s and par-5’s 2) Fairway wood/hybrid approach shots 3) Long
irons/hybrid approach shots 4) Mid iron approach shots 5) Short iron
approach shots 6) Long wedge shots 7) Less than full swing wedge
shots 8) Shots from 0-40 yards around the green. 9) Putting
issue I take with the ‘long game sets up the short game’ and ‘shots from 100+
yards are twice as important as shots from less than 100 yards’ is that in the
end, it really doesn’t tell the golfer that much.
It may wind up getting
a golfer to focus their efforts towards 100+ yard shots versus chipping,
pitching and putting. Although I don’t think that’s the best way to go.
Furthermore, all shots from 100+ yards are ‘not alike.’ Let’s say we
measured two golfers from 100+ yard shots. I would rather have the golfer who
- Average on Tour off the tee - Top-10 from 175+ yards - 125th
from 100-175 yards
Than the golfer who is:
- Above average off the
tee (let’s say 75th in Advanced Total Driving) - 125th from 175+ yards -
Top-10 from 100-175 yards away.
Provided everything else being equal, I
believe the first golfer will wind up with a better ‘adjusted scoring average’
and likely have more victories. Particularly on the PGA Tour where the best on
Tour only hit it to about 15 feet to the cup on shots from the fairway at
100-125 yards and the worst are still within 30 feet, which is still enough to
come away with a par and a possible birdie.
Conversely, the best on Tour
from 200-225 yards from the fairway are hitting it to about 34 feet and the
worst are hitting it to around 53 feet. And at 53 feet, you’re most likely off
the green with a more difficult up-and-in. Furthermore, the average Tour player
hits about the same amount of shots from the fairway from those distances. The
only thing that changes are:
- Variance in proximity to cup on those
shots - The typical reward for a ‘good’ shot from those distances - The
typical penalty for a ‘poor’ shot from those distances.
As I mentioned in
my 2011 Pro Golf Synopsis, at a most basic level, the different comes from the
fact that the reality is that the ‘best’ a golfer can do on those approach shots
is to make a birdie (-1). But, there is no limit in how poorly they can play the
hole. They can take a bogey (+1), double bogey (+2), triple bogey (+3), etc.
That’s why all shots from that range are not created equal.
Furthermore, most golfers on Tour do not hit every type of shot longer
than 100+ yards well. The same goes for shots under 100 yards.
Snedeker is a pretty good example: Take a look at his rankings in certain areas
And we’ll use my
metric ‘Advanced Total Driving’ where he currently ranks 81st.
actually quite typical of Tour players. One the few can stay in the top-1/2 from
these 3 distances and with the driver. And that’s reserved for players like Kyle
Stanley and Jason Dufner, who already have 3 wins between them.
to see why more golfers don’t excel at all facets of ballstriking. If they did,
they would be one of the top players on Tour. For a lack of better term, it’s
just ‘plain hard’ to do.
That’s why I created the different
Birdie Zone (75-125 yards) Safe Zone (125-175 yards) Danger
Zone (175-225 yards)
Along with creating a metric to determine what
statistics most strongly correlate with being the most effective driver of the
I think it gives a more accurate depiction of the golfer’s
‘game’ and helps us better understand on what the key factors of the game of
golf are and thus be able to better determine where golfers ‘lost’ or ‘gained’
their shots. As far as the Tour goes, here’s what I have in order of
1. Danger Zone Play 2. Putts Gained 3. Advanced Total
Driving 4. Short Game Play (0-20 yards) 5. Safe Zone Play 6. Birdie
Zone Play 7. 225-275 yard shots 8. Clubhead Speed
From there, the
Tour players, caddies and coaches I work with can better prioritize what to
focus their efforts on. There’s a real dropoff in importance from #2 to #3 and
then another big dropoff from #5 to #6.
you do see that putting is quite important once things are broken down more. The
problem with the ‘Less than 100 yard shots are less important’ argument is that
it lumps in putting with shots from 21-99 yards, which are largely unimportant.
As I stated in 2011 Pro Golf Synopsis, the ‘Adjusted Short Game Play’
only takes into account shots from 0-20 yards from the edge of the green. Why?
Because shots from 21-40 yards from the edge of the green show no statistical
correlation to Adjusted Scoring Average. My guess is that from that distance,
those are usually on such poor approach shots that being able to stick it close
is more or less potluck. And typically you do not see any player from 21-40
yards do consistently well from year-to-year. Unlike from 0-20 yards where some
players like Brian Gay, Briny Baird and Chris Riley are consistently among the
Tour’s best. Thos shows that those shots are more about skill and proficiency
because these players are not just getting lucky from that distance each
Lastly, I think it’s incorrect to assume that what is good for the
Tour pro will automatically translate into being good for the amateur.
Particularly if you want to do it with any detail.
From my research, my
current conclusions are that as golfers get closer to a scratch handicap,
Putting and Danger Zone play become increasingly important for them to take the
leap into reducing their handicap and playing better in competitive situations.
Surely, improving off the tee could help, but to make that major jump the golfer
that is closer to scratch should focus more on Putting, Danger Zone play and
shots from 0-20 yards around the green. Of course, there is always the chance
that a golfer may be close to scratch while being excellent with the putter and
Danger Play, but awful with the driver. But on average, I do not believe that
will be the case.
In fact, I believe the better golfer…even the Tour
player…who shoots the occasionally poor round of golf will almost likely have
done so thru poor driving over poor Danger Zone play or poor
This is significant because it gives an indicator as to what
happens when golfers shoot higher scores…the penalty for a terrible shot off the
tee is generally far greater than the penalty for a poor putt or poor approach
Hit one poor off the tee, you can go O.B., into a hazard, into a
fairway bunker, deep into the woods where you have to punch out or perhaps incur
a lost-ball penalty. You won’t get those penalties on the greens. And your
chances of getting those type of severe penalties in the Danger Zone are far
So, it really doesn’t matter if you’re a Tour pro who has a
terrible day and shoots 85 on a course or a 15 handicapper who has a good day
and shoots 85 on the course; in all likelihood a big part of those 85 strokes
came off the tee shots for both golfers.
In the end, the further away the
golfer is from a scratch handicap, the more they need to improve their tee shot
play in order to make a significant dent into that handicap. Things like Short
Game play, Putting and Danger Zone play are still very important (even though
the distance range for the Danger Zone will alter if the golfer plays on a
course shorter than 6,700 yards). It’s just as the handicap is higher, they need
to improve more off the tee from a distance, accuracy and consistency standpoint
to legitimately cut off a lot of strokes off their