As golfers we practice to get better and typically judge performance by the end score on the scorecard. In golf there are no fractions. We typically all remember the putts we missed as chances gone by and overemphasize the importance of the flatstick on the end result. This is likely because putting is the most binary of golfing skills, the ball either goes in or it doesn’t. Does perception match reality?
First let’s introduce the concept of “Scoring Impact”.
Once you play more than 5 rounds using a shot tracking app like PocketPAR, you get a distribution of scores varying from your best days to your worst days. “Scoring Impact” is a measurement of how various factors explain the variation in scores. We show this impact via a simple correlation plot with a linear fit. An example of this is shown for Strokes Gained Approach vs. Score.
Clearly we can see a trend from the SG Approach plot. When the player has a better ball striking day on approach shots, he/she scores better. This intuitively makes sense… but how do we put it into perspective? The impact number in this case is 0.6 or 60%. This means that 60% of the scoring variation can be attributed to Strokes Gained / Lost on Approach shots.
To the left is Strokes Gained Putting impact for the same player. The best fit line certainly shows a relationship in which score improves with putting, however it is not as clear or obvious when looking at the data. In this case, the impact number is just 16%. This is 1/4th the impact of approach shots, meaning the player would be much better off putting in work on approach shots than putting if he wants to see scores improve.
We can expand this approach to all elements of Strokes Gained and even to traditional metrics such as Fairways, Greens, and # of Putts. After reviewing data from several of our power users over various handicap ranges, the summary data is shown in the table below where several trends appear:
- For all handicap groups, Approach shots were at the top in terms of impact on scoring.
- As handicap increased, so did impact of Driving on overall score.
- Putting was the least impactful area on overall score for all handicap groups, except one.
- Traditional metrics don’t correlate well with improved scoring.
Tracking traditional metrics is easy, but it doesn’t tell you how to improve. To reveal true opportunities you need advanced shot tracking and stats such as those provided by PocketPAR. Subscribe today to get easy access to these advanced stats and more in the “Analyze” section or check out our in-app demo for just how much you learn about your game.
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