Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Flaw In Strokes Lost

‘Tiger made his name on the PGA Tour with long drives, but at Bay Hill his driving cost him 2.4 strokes to Bryant and Co. throughout the four days of play. (Indeed, just like last week at Firestone, Tiger's driving was disastrous in the early rounds.) He also lost 2.8 strokes on approach shots from 100-150 yards out. His layup shots were also slightly subpar, dropping him another eight-tenths of a stroke. That puts him six strokes down.’-
One of the threads in the forum ( is discussing how golfers tend to hit a wall with lowering their handicap. That has morphed into ‘does Danger Zone performance affect the average golfer?’

The first thing I want to address here is that the Danger Zone will change depending on the length of the golf course. This chart helps with this
























One thing to understand about Danger Zone play is that normally the Danger Zone WILL come into play because of the par-3’s. The only time it wouldn’t is if you have a player who hits it long on a course that has very short par-3’s and ‘makes up that distance’ on par-4’s, but they hit it ‘too long’ for the given total yardage of the course. But, 9 times out of 10, the Danger Zone will come into play.

Here’s part of what the poster had written.

I keep a personal stat which I call "shots lost to par". For every hole that I do not par, I document why I didn't. IE: three putt, bad iron shot, tee ball that left me no shot to the green or penalty shot. In my last round, I shot par on the back 9, no shots lost to par. One the front, I had horrible tee shots on 1 and 8, which costs me 3 strokes, and one iron shot (was in danger zone) which cost me two strokes, and a three putt.

So in this example, driving hurt me more than anything
The problem with ‘shots lost to par’ is that it does not tell the whole picture.

How come?

Because it neglects the other shots and how they affected the golfer’s score.

Let’s use this example and we’ll say that the golfer hit those 2 poor drivers that cost him 3 strokes. But, we’ll also hypothetically state that the other 5 drives went 280 yards and in the middle of the fairway. We could call those other 5 drivers on the front 9 ‘shots GAINED to par.’

Now, part of the issue is that the golfer wasn’t playing in an actual tournament so you really can’t measure the strokes ‘gained’ versus the field. And thus, it’s really difficult to accurately determine how much the other 5 drives (280 yards, down the middle) helped his score.

But, let’s say the other 5 drives (280 yards, down the middle) help him for a combined 1.5 strokes. Thus, the total for those combined 7 drives on the front 9 is 1.5 strokes lost to par.

However, let’s say that the golfer had 2 shots from the Danger Zone. The one shot mentioned cost him 2 strokes to par. Let’s say that he’s ‘broken even’ on the other Danger Zone shot. So that means that when he was in the Danger Zone, he lost 2 strokes to par. Thus:

Driver = 1.5 strokes lost to par
Danger Zone = 2.0 strokes lost to par

Another example is Bubba Watson. Using the stats:

- Driving Distance
- Fwy %
- Proximity to Edge of Fairway (on shots that miss the fairway)

I’ve come up with a formula to determine what I call ‘Advanced Total Driving.’ Watson is now #1 in that category.

Watson is:

#2 in driving distance
#66 in fwy %
#157 in proximity to edge of fairway

In other words, when he does miss the fairway, he’s missing it by quite a bit.

Let’s say Bubba plays a round where he hits 14 drivers off the tee. Let’s say he hits 9 out of 14 fairways.

Let’s say on the 5 fairways missed, 3 of the drives miss by a mile and cost him 3 strokes total.

It would be inaccurate for him to state ‘well, my driver cost me three strokes today and that’s what I need to work on.’


Because Watson may have hit 11 drivers that either put him in birdie range or practically took bogey or worse out of the equation. And in the end, he may have ‘GAINED’ 5 strokes to par when all is said and done.

EX: 3 badly missed drivers = 3 strokes lost
11 drivers in fwy or just off of fairway = 8 strokes gained

8 – 3 = 5 strokes gained

Obviously, if the poster lost the hypothetical 1.5 strokes with the driver they would want to get better in order to improve their score. But it shows *why* Danger Zone play is important to any golfer of any handicap. With the driver, you have more opportunities to make up for the shots you lose on the course because you’re likely to have 10-14 driver shots a round. With ‘Danger Zone’ play, you’re likely to have 4-6 shots from that range and it’s difficult to make up the shots you ‘lost’ because you have lesser chances and the shot difficulty doesn’t change much.

I think the higher the handicap, the more that driving, putting and short game start to get closer to being equally as important (not more than) Danger Zone play. The lower the handicap, the more Danger Zone play becomes a factor to their score over driving, putting and short game.

However, if you can get better at any category, that will obviously help your scores.


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