The No. 1 shibboleth Broadie's research debunks is that putting is golf's most crucial skill. From 2004 to 2012, across all tournaments that ShotLink recorded, putting contributed only 15% to the scoring advantage that the top 40 Tour players had over the field. Shots from off the green contributed 85%. The ratio is similar in recreational golf. Why the widespread misperception? "One reason is that putts are the last shot on a hole, so they can seem the most critical even though you had to do a lot of things right to get to that point," Broadie said. "Another is the highlight reels that show pros making 20- and 30-foot putts." ...
So what does matter more than putting? Driving contributes 28% of top players' advantage, and the main factor there is raw distance, not accuracy....
The biggest factor in lower scores, however, is approach shot accuracy. It contributes 40% of the advantage that the Tour's top players enjoy over their peers, and that amateurs at every level (70 shooters, 80 shooters, etc.) enjoy over less talented amateurs. For Woods, by far the top strokes-gained player between 2004 and 2012, it was even more: 46%. "If you want to know Tiger's secret, it's how good he is between 150 yards and 200 yards," Broadie said. That statistical category is key because so many shots are hit from that range—an average of seven per round in pro events—and good outcomes can lead directly to birdies. One or two feet closer to the pin, hole after hole, is huge.
24 February 2014
Debunking golf myths
From the Wall Street Journal, some results based on an analysis of "every shot by every player in most tournaments since 2003" plus 100,000 shots by amateurs: