Golf Stat Blog

Tag: accuracy

Numbers tell us everything and nothing

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At Golf Stat Lab we love numbers. We love statistics and charts and data - but if we have to be perfectly honest, we have to admit that at the end of the day - numbers don't tell us anything. Numbers merely suggest.

This doesn't mean that numbers, tracking, trends and statistics are any less important, they are vital if improvement is your goal, but there is a hidden danger in numbers, and that danger is misreading them.

This danger exists in any analysis done to a set of numbers, whether it's managing a business, dissecting website traffic, managing finances or  looking at your golf performance. It's important to remember that when looking at numbers, they only mean what they are - a number.

Let's look at some Golf Stats to illustrate this point because after all, thats what we do and why you're reading this.

Let's assume for a moment that you downloaded a free golf stat program onto your smartphone instead of using Golf Stat Lab (shame on you), and that program allows you to track a few statistics like score to par, GIR (green in regulation) and number of putts per hole. You play a few rounds of golf, enter your data and now you want find out where you can improve. Here is what you see in your golf program:

Average by round
Score to Par5.4
GIR30%
Putts per hole3.4

By looking at these numbers we can see that we are scoring to high, we are 5.4 stokes over par per round. We can also see that our GIR is low, we are only getting a Green in Regulation 30% of time and missing it 70% of the time. And finally we can see that we have too many putts per hole, we want that at 2 or less and we are at 3.4 average putts per hole. We can definitely see that there is room for improvement - we can safely say that the number suggest that, but the real problem here is what do we do to improve our performance? These numbers can't tell us that.

We're not trying to pick on free golf statics programs, after all any statistics are better than none, and in all truth, no set of numbers can tell us what to do - they can only suggest where else to look. The problem we have in this example, is that while we know our score to par is too hight, our GIR percent is too low and our putts per hole are too high, we don't know why - and we don't have anything else to look at to help us figure it out.

Our GIR percent may be low because our approach shots are less that desirable, but it could also be because our drives are leaving us in areas of the course that make it impossible to hit a GIR no matter how good we are at approach shots. Both of these scenarios are possible, but with the stats we have here, there is no way to tell. The same is true for our Putts per hole - are we bad at putting or is our short game leaving us so far from the hole that we need the extra putts to make up for it? On the surface it's easy to assume that if our Putts per hole are too high, we should work on our putting - but if it really is our greenside shots that are causing the extra putts then we could work on our putting until the cows come home and still not see any improvement.

When doing analysis on a set of numbers, it's important to have enough information to check the suggestions each number is giving us. In Golf Stat Lab there are many other numbers, segments and calculations to check against each other to see what the story really is, like the Performance DNA and shot specific reports. Using our example above, if we see our GIR percent is too low we can also check the Performance DNA in Golf Stat Lab to see where we are gaining the most strokes. If our Approach Shots are are higher than our Diving Shots in the Performance DNA then we can assume that our GIR problem may be stemming from there, but if our Approach Shots are low and our Driving Shots are high, it may be time to hit the driving range to bring up our GIR Percent. In all truth we are still guessing as numbers don't tell us anything (they only suggest), but this guess is much more educated and likely to improve performance.

Remember to investigate several stats to try and test your assumptions (if you have more stats available) and you will be more likely to drop some strokes and improve your scores. If you need help, don't be afraid to get your coach involved, or ask the Pro at your local course for guidance. If you have any questions on the stats here in Golf Stat Lab feel free to check our our Stat Dictionary or drop us line using the form on the Contact Us page.

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