Monday, October 3, 2011

The Best And Worst of Advanced Total Driving

One of the features in my statistical golf e-book (planning on being out in November or December) will be to go thru each player on the 2011 PGA Tour that qualified statistically and analyze their stats and how it applies to their game.

There’s a few more tournaments to be done for the year, mostly to help determine those who make the top 125 on the money list and those who need to go back to Q-School. But, I am pretty confident that the main metrics I work with are pretty much set.

Here, I wanted to look at what I call ‘Advanced Total Driving.’ This is a proprietary formula I utilize based off of driving distance, driving accuracy and average distance from edge of the fairway (on drives that find the rough). I want to look at the #1 on the list and the last player on the list.

The #1 ranked driver of the golf ball in 2011 is John Merrick.

Here’s a look at Merrick’s stats for the year.

297.7 yards average drive
68.7% fairways hit
22.4 feet average distance from edge of fairway

Clubhead Speed - 110.04 mph
Launch angle - 11.3*
Spin rate - 2,943 rpm
Apex Height - 97'10"

Merrick also uses a 9* Titleist 910D2 driver

Merrick, from a stats perspective, reminds me a lot of another one of the Tour’s all-time great drivers of the golf ball….Kenny Perry.

Perry generates only about 110-111 mph of clubhead speed, but is known as a long ball hitter. Merrick is only generating 110 mph of clubhead speed, but is hitting 298 yard drivers on average. Given the power he gets from his clubhead speed and his launch angle for a 9* driver, I think it’s obvious that Merrick hits up with the driver and is able to consistently execute those mechanics.

I know Trackman would recommend something like 2,800 rpm as an optimal spin rate. Merick is a little above that while Perry usually hovers around 2,500-2,600 rpm.

Currently, the worst driver on Tour is Chad Collins.

I do not have any swings of Collins nor do I know what’s in his bag. But, here are the stats of Collins:

273.5 yards average drive
55.5% fairways hit
30.8 feet average distance from edge of fairway

109.36 mph clubhead speed
9.38* launch angle
2,844 rpm spin rate
83’10” apex height

There’s actually 2 more telling statistics between Merrick and Collins.

Smash Factor – We know that smash factor = Ball Speed / Clubhead speed. Smash factor helps tell us how well the ball was struck because if you generate virtually the same clubhead speed, but hit a shot off the toe…the ball speed will be lesser than if you had hit it on the sweetspot. Also, we know from Trackman with the way the modern driver is designed that two shots struck in the same spot can have different smash factors if one swing has a noticeably steeper attack angle than the other swing.

Here, Merrick ranks 11th and Collins ranks 142nd.

Driving Distance Efficiency – This is taking driving distance / clubhead speed. There are numerous factors that play into this, but essentially it’s about who optimizes their distance given their clubhead speed.

Now, I think some people misinterpret what this stat is saying. For starters, it’s not a measurement of somebody’s power. If you want to measure actual power, look at a stat like average driving distance. Other people think that it’s a measure of the efficiency of a golfer’s swing.

Driving Distance Efficiency is really more of an indicator of how well the golfer strikes the driver, if they hit up or down with the driver and if they have the right equipment for their swing.

Here, Merrick ranks 13th and Collins ranks 184th.

I think that it’s an interesting case of how 2 golfers with very similar swing speeds that are below the Tour average can achieve completely different results off the tee.


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