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Friday, June 08, 2012


The Short Game's the Thing? Nope

Conventional wisdom holds that the short game is the key to golf success. If you want to win on Tour, or even in matches at the local course, you've got to chip, pitch and putt like a magician.

If that's true, however, how do you figure Tiger Woods's win last week at the Memorial? He ranked 41st in the Tour's new strokes-gained-putting metric, and 42nd in strokes gained—short game (shots inside 100 yards excluding putting)? Or Jason Dufner's victory at the HP Byron Nelson two weeks earlier, when he ranked 56th in putting, actually losing strokes to the field on the greens?

Mark Broadie, the Columbia Business School professor who came up with the strokes-gained-putting statistic now used by the PGA Tour, has devised a way to quantify the relative contribution to scoring of the long game and the short game, and his conclusion is probably not what you think. He is expanding this and other interesting new golf statistical research into a book for publication next year, but here's the take-away: Shots that originate more than 100 yards from the hole have twice the impact on score of shots from inside 100 yards—including putting. Long-game results account for about two-thirds of the variability in scores among golfers on the PGA Tour (the short game is one-third).


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