Avainsana-arkisto: Statistics

Putting myths around Jordan Spieth

First of all, congratulations to Jordan Spieth on winning The Open last weekend. Great playing and he showed some unbelievable grit on the last holes when the wheels seemed to fall of the wagon.

Spieth made some unbelievable putts on the last holes that took the steam out of Matt Kuchar (great playing by Kuch  also)

I have seen some headlines in Social media, media and blogs saying that Spieth is the greatest putter of all time, he has some magic on the green that no one else has and so on…

The fact is that if Jordan Spieth was a great putter, I think this season he would have dominated on tour and in Majors. Lets have a look at his putting stats this season, the number tells his position in the category among players.

Inside 5 ft – 130 th

inside 10 ft – 100 th

10-15 ft – 159 th

15-20 ft – 60 th

20-25 ft – 4th. 

Strokes gained putting – 37th

The stats are hard facts, this is not the best putter in the game, not even close. The fact that he made some good putts in the heat of the competition in The Open tells us that he is a strong competitor, young man with nerves and the ability to get the best out of him when its needed the most. But the best putter, no.

The most interesting part of his putting is that he seems to get better when he has a long putt. My educated estimate is that he has a very good speed control on the long putts and that makes him so good on those distances.

But being 100th inside 10 ft and 159 th from 10-15 ft is just poor putting for a player of his status. And with this putting he still manages to win tournaments and be in contention on sundays. Imagine what would be if he putted better?

The reason he is so good has been his unbelievable iron play this season. With that he gaines so many strokes compared to the field that he is still playing for the win. If he manages to get his putting on the same level, I don’t think he can be stopped. But for now, he struggles on the greens – which the stats show without question. Jordan iron play is a matter for another blog post later.

The frenzy after the victory at The Open about Jordans putting once again shows the now almost ancient problem in golfing world – we tend to believe something that seems quote right. This time it was the few unbelievable putts that Spieth made in the right places. It made us believe that this guy must be the greatest putter on the game since ha made those putts. But the statistics show that he is not, plane and simple.

This blog is not about putting Jordan Spieth down in any way, its about the hard facts of the game not the things that we see and want to believe so much.

I hope that Jordan will become a better putter, then we see how amazing player he really is.

Total amount of putts – totally useless number

Looking at social media and even European Tour, we see a lot of talk about total number of putts. Someone had 26 putts and someone had 35 putts on a round. I have used Strokes gained stats for 2 years now with my players and they certainly give us interesting observations and most importantly – the truth. That truth is that as a single statistic the total amount of putts is completely useless.

Why is that then? I will use my own trip with our golf club to Portugal as an example. As usual, when you go out and play after the Finnish winter, there are a lot of things happening on the golf course and even though we have a really good practice green in our indoor facility, putting on the real golf course is still totally different,

So, here are the total amount of putts on my 5 rounds in Portugal.

  1. round  29 putts
  2. round  36 putts
  3. round  35 putts
  4. round  32 putts
  5. round  30 putts.

So, what is your guess which was my best putting performance on the trip? Looking at the total amount of putts, the first round was best and the second was worst, right? Well, that wasn’t the case, lets see the same stats with the strokes gained putting added after the total amounts.

  1. round 29 putts SGP  – 0,789
  2. round 36 putts SGP – 4,251
  3. round 35 putts SGP – 2,883
  4. round 32 putts SGP – 0,751
  5. round 30 putts SGP – 3,317

It turns out that the worst putting round actually was the second round when I used 36 putts. That was a poor performance, I didn’t make a lot of putts and took 3 putts a couple of times. But looking at the best putting performance, this turns interesting. The best performance was on the fourth round when I had 32 putts. And looking at the second best total amount , the last round when I had 30 putts was actually very poor putting. Surprised? I am not.

How to explain these numbers?  On the last round I had two chip ins and otherwise my approaches were quite close but I missed a lot of relatively short birdie putts, hence the big minus in SGP. For example missing from 2,5 meters gives you – 0,5 on SGP.  You only need to miss 3-4 of those and you’ll have a lot of negative SGP.

On the best round I had a lot of GIRs but I was quite far from the hole and that means 2 putts is good. I also made a couple of nice birdie putts and the end result is a good putting performance that isn’t obvious when looking at the total amount. Looking at the SGP stat we can see that the round when I took 35 putts was a better putting round that the one where I used 5 putts less. This once again shows that total amount of putts is a really bad statistic that doesn’t really nothing about the performance on he course.

Lets take an exaggerated example.

18 holes of golf and 18 GIRs. All the birdie putts are 12 meters in length. Players with handicaps of 0 and 10 will take 2 putts on every green which gives the total amount of 36 putts. The scratch players SGP would be + 3,96 and the 10 handicapper would have SGP of + 6,66. In other words 12 meters is so long that the expected total amounts for these players would be 39,96 and 42,66 putts on the round.

If these same players would have 2 meter putts on every green and still take 2 putts on every green, the SGP numbers would be – 8,28 and -6,3. So you can have 36 putts and it can be a really good performance or you can have 36 putts and have a really poor performance.

Looking at the modern statistics and knowing that a lot of players on the tour use all kinds of statistic programs to monitor their own game, its really hard to understand that The European Tour still is giving only some basic stats that are of no use.

Comparing The PGA Tour and The European Tour statistics its safe to say that on the ET, the stats are like Fred Flintstones stone tablet. It just doesn’t tell us who is putting well and who is not.