I am not really a stats guy, but minor analysis shows that these two factors are not related because of a missing data set. I recently asked two polls about driving distance and making birdies and I was not really surprised with the answers. It was straight on par with what I was thinking and as such does not expose any revelations that might help focus some players to concentrate their training efforts in one direction. Regardless, it is worth the discussion because individually, they are important topics.
First, driving distances:
I am not surprised that over 50% of golfers, who answered this poll, fall into the 201 to 250 yard average for driving distance. I think that most readers are generally avid players and thus mid a mid handicap index (10 to 15). I am lower handicap player and play to the upper end of this category (I hover around the 250 range). However, I can tell you from my experience that this stat does not directly equate to more birdies. As a matter a fact, at least for my game, hitting the ball longish off the tee offers other advantages, but being in play 80% of the time is more valuable for my game. Hence, hitting straight with my driver is as if not more important shooting lower golf scores.
Next is birdies:
My first mistake was asking a question that gather different birdie information. Something like: “On average, how many birdies do you shoot in a round?” However, even that question makes it difficult to correlate the two data sets. Personally, the most birdies I have shot in a row is three. I have had as many as four in a nine hole span, but three is my best ever. As a matter of fact, shooting two birdies in a row is a rare enough thing, let alone a larger number. For interest sake, I expect to shoot at least two birdies in 18 holes and that happens around 50% of the time…..maybe. 😉
The missing data set is greens in regulation. Here is how all three of these skills tie together (at least in my mind). Hitting the ball longer off the tee allows for a short club used during approach shots. A short iron on approach shots offers a greater chance to hit the greens in regulation. The more greens in regulation, the great number of birdie opportunities. The more opportunities for birdie, the more birdies you will make. Whew! It is all one big intertwined mess of ‘if this, then that’.
Just a note, I played the Mattawa Golf And Ski Resort on Sunday. It was a wet, warm day and I had not hit a ball for three days. Since this course is close, I decided to give it go. Well, I scored my best round of the year. I hit every fairway and 61% of the greens in regulation. I had 30 putts with 4 bogeys and 3 birdies. The result was a one over 75. I attribute my great score to the combination of all three data sets, however 61% GIR was the most important.
Although my data does not really support my hypothesis for the day, I think we can agree that nothing is simple when it comes to applying statistical analysis to golf. There are so many factors, that on any given day I might shoot thee birdies in a row, but the probability that I will not is greater. Golf is a fun game and regardless of the stats, anything can happen on any given day.
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!