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The Missing Statistic: Strokes Gained Putting

It's Not That Hard

I promise Strokes Gained Putting isn't as hard as that picture. No really, it's not that hard. What it is though, is simple math to actually see how your putting performance stacks up day to day and over an extended period of time. Now, while that doesn't seem like such a huge deal, it is part of managing your expectations as a golfer.

When I first meet a player, I typically ask how they are assessing the difference between the good days and poor days on the greens. The answer never ceases to amaze me...

In days gone by, players would typically count the number of putts they took on any given day and decide if that was too high or too low. You might still do that today. The real question is how are you deciding if the 33 putts you took is too high or too low? Did you hit a lot of greens, but just not near the cup forcing you to have a lot of two putts? Did you miss a lot of greens and take 33 putts? Let's take a closer look at these scenarios...

Not All Putts Are Created Equal

Player A hits a ball to 33 feet and takes 2 putts to hole out. Player B hits a ball to 10 feet and takes 2 putts to hole out. Both players took two putts, but it should be pretty clear that Player A putted better on that particular hole because of how far away he started from the cup.

Herein lies the issue with counting putts. Counting putts is a very incomplete picture of a very complex story. Insert the Strokes Gained Putting metric.

Strokes Gained Putting: How it Works

Developed by Columbia Business School professor Mark Broadie, Strokes Gained Putting has revolutionized the way players and instructors are valuing and measuring a golfer's putting performance. Because it takes into account the starting distance from the cup, it is a far superior method to counting a player's total strokes.

Strokes Gained Putting is built around PGA Tour averages and is easily calculated. The average number of putts taken from 8 feet is 1.5. If a player makes an 8 foot putt, they gain .5 strokes (which is a good thing). If a player takes 2 strokes to hole out from 8 feet, they lose .5 strokes (that's a bad thing). Add up the totals for an entire round of golf, a tournament, or an extended period of time, and you'll have a great barometer for how well you are actually putting.