FRIDAY, JULY 6: How do you really know if you are a good putter? In the past, we have only had ‘a putts per round’ to tell us who is putting well.
As anyone who has played golf knows, that stat can be misleading a new and improved way to differentiate between the best putters on Tour and players who simply have a solid short game.
The Strokes Gained-Putting stat was developed by professor Mark Broadie of Columbia Business School.
The point of this new stat is to better understand who the top putters on Tour have been.
Players who scramble well, as a result of a solid chipping game, have lower putts per round.
That doesn’t necessarily mean they are putting that great, they just have shorter putts to hole.
While players who are striking the ball well and hitting more greens usually have longer putts, meaning they are less likely to make the putts, resulting in more putts per round.
The problem is that we judge the best putters on Tour primarily by the eye test — Who seems to make the most putts, and who has the best stroke?
Now, the weekend warrior can quantify how many strokes they can save or lose compared to the pros on the PGA Tour.
For example, on average the number of putts it took the pros to hole out from eight feet was 1.5.
So, hypothetically speaking let’s say he holes the eight foot putt. He gains 0.5 strokes on the field for making that putt.
If he were to require two putts, he would lose 0.5 strokes, or if he were to three-putt, he would lose 1.5 strokes to average.
This ‘score’ can be kept and then as a result, you can assess whether your putting is good or bad and which length of putt that you need to practice. The key is to find the distance you are good at and distances you are bad! Then focus your practice on the weakest distance.
The bottom line is that instead of believing Luke Donald is the best putter on Tour, we have a stat to prove how effective against the field he truly is.
You can see if it is your putting that is letting you down or your chipping. Remember, unless you measure, it’s just a guess.
• Paul Adams if the PGA director of golf at Rosewood Tucker’s Point.