Strokes gained: Going beyond the green
PGA TOUR unveils the next step in its primary performance stats
August 22, 2014
By PGA TOUR Staff, PGATOUR.COM
- The new Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green stat will help evaluate a player's performance. (Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
In 2011, the PGA TOUR began to present player putting efficiency in a more accurate, meaningful way by introducing Strokes Gained: Putting as the newest primary statistical category.
On Monday, the TOUR officially took its next step with the introduction of Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green and Strokes Gained: Total that will now provide a statistical look at each player's round.
Developed initially by Professor Mark Broadie of Columbia University and further analyzed in collaboration with a team from Massachusetts Institute of Technology led by Professor Stephen Graves, the Strokes Gained statistics measure a player's performance relative to his fellow competitors in a tournament and offers a more accurate portrayal of his overall performance.
The statistics are derived from the data generated by ShotLink, which is powered by PGA TOUR technology partner CDW and provides a wealth of data in all areas of the game and from all distances.
The Strokes Gained concept initially started on the green. Until 2011, the primary overarching putting statistic was Putts Per Round, which simply measures the average number of putts a player takes over 18 holes and can be skewed by chipping close to the hole after missing a green.
Strokes Gained: Putting, however, takes into account putting proficiency from various distances and computes the difference between a player’s performance on every green -- the number of strokes needed to hole out -- against the performance of the other players for each round. This ultimately shows how many strokes are gained or lost due to putting for a particular round, for a tournament and over the course of a year.
Here's a look at the two statistics that were introduced Monday:
STROKES GAINED: TEE-TO-GREEN
Strokes Gained: Putting is widely accepted as the best overall metric of measuring a player’s performance with a putter. The next logical step in evolving the Strokes Gained concept is to apply the formula to other aspects of the game (both putting and non-putting). The non-putting measurement of the Strokes Gained concept is referred to as Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green.
Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green takes into account several ShotLink measurables. For an example of how it can accurately reflect a player's performance, let's look at Rory McIlroy's Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green during his recent back-to-back wins at the 2014 World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational and the 2014 PGA Championship.
At Bridgestone, McIlroy led the field in driving distance, total driving, ball striking and par-4 scoring average. He also was tied for third in ball striking and tied for ninth in scrambling from around the greens. For the week, McIlroy outperformed the field by 2.8 shots per round with his tee-to-green performance, leading the field in that category.
At Valhalla, McIlroy again led the field in driving distance and total driving. He was third in ball stroking, ninth in scrambling, 10th in driving accuracy and 14th in greens in regulation. He picked up three shots on the field each round tee-to-green, which ranked him third in the field that week.
Now let's look at how Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green can reflect a player's performance in a given round.
In the opening round of the THE PLAYERS Championship this year, Roberto Castro shot a 63, which was nine shots better than the field average of 72.01 that day.
Of those nine shots, Castro was eight shots better than the field from tee to green. He hit 13 of 14 fairways, and 15 of 18 greens, and averaged a field-leading 21-feet, 6 inches to the pin on all approach shots. He hit seven approach shots inside 15 feet and averaged nearly 12 feet closer to the pin than the field average of 34 feet.
Castro's performance from tee to green that day allowed him to become the first player in the ShotLink era (starting in 2004) to shoot 65 or better at TPC Sawgrass' Stadium Course without making a putt from outside 10 feet.
In running the Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green data in previous years, here's a look at the category leader for each season since 2008. (* - through WGC-Bridgestone)
Year Strokes Gained:Tee-to-Green leader T2G per round T2G overall Measured rounds 2014* Sergio Garcia 2.160 63.433 24 2013 Justin Rose 1.914 88.035 46 2012 Rory McIlroy 2.318 92.725 40 2011 Webb Simpson 1.504 124.872 83 2010 Adam Scott 1.567 81.463 52 2009 Tiger Woods 2.314 111.076 48 2008 Vijay Singh 1.849 116.463 63
STROKES GAINED: TOTAL
With the addition of Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green, we can combine that with Strokes Gained: Putting to come up with Strokes Gained: Total (also known as Strokes Gained Versus the Field).
Strokes Gained: Total is a simple and intuitive quantitative measure of the quality of a player’s performance in relation to the field. Simply defined, Strokes Gained Versus the Field refers to how many strokes you gain or lose to the field based on performance. "Gaining" strokes on the field means you are outperforming the field. "Losing" strokes means an individual’s performance is worse than the field.
For example, if player A has a round of 68 while the field average is 70.00, then player A has outperformed the field by +2.0 strokes. If player B has a round of 72 while the field average is 70.00, then player B has performed 2 strokes worse than the field.
In the example above involving Robert Castro, he was eight shots better than the field from tee-to-green and one shot better on the greens in the first round of THE PLAYERS. His 63, consequently, was nine strokes better than the field average of 72.01.
Strokes Gained: Total can also be used as a simple way to make player comparisons and effectively highlight the various attributes of a player’s game that most contributed to their final score.
Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson were paired together in the final round of the 2012 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. Mickelson went on to shoot a final-round 64 while Woods finished 11 shots higher with a 3-over 75.
The largest difference between their rounds came on the greens. Mickelson outperformed the field by 4.6 strokes on the greens while Tiger lost 4.4 strokes. For the round, Mickelson was 9 strokes better than Woods on the greens. Meanwhile, from tee to green, Mickelson outperformed the field by +3.1 strokes while Tiger was at +1.1, a two-stroke difference between the two players.
Combine Mickelson's nine-stroke advantage in putting with his two-stroke advantage from tee to green, and his 11-shot difference equals the difference between his score and Tiger's score.
In running the Strokes Gained: Total data in previous years, here's a look at the category leader for each season since 2008. (* -through WGC-Bridgestone)
Year Strokes Gained: Total leader SG:T avg. SG:T2G avg. SG:P avg. Measured rounds 2014* Sergio Garcia 2.643 2.160 0.483 24 2013 Steve Stricker 2.193 1.466 0.727 35 2012 Rory McIlroy 2.406 2.318 0.088 40 2011 Luke Donald 2.236 1.392 0.844 52 2010 Steve Stricker 1.819 1.382 0.437 56 2009 Tiger Woods 3.189 2.314 0.875 48 2008 Phil Mickelson 1.788 1.581 0.207 59 SG:T = Strokes Gained: Total. SG:T2G = Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green. SG:P = Strokes Gained: Putting