Gaining Strokes On The Field

This relatively new way of recording stats in golf deals with gaining strokes on the field. It is a interesting way to see how a player is fairing against the field. I am not sure as an amateur how this would help our game because it would be almost impossible to track, but as a professional I can see how it would help. For example, Cameron Smith gained 11.5 strokes will putting at last weekends Players Championship. I think with this stat alone it shows why he won. Knowing this, what really is gaining strokes on the field in golf?

The strokes gained concept was initially developed by Professor Mark Broadie of Columbia University, utilizing ShotLink data that has been made available to academic institutions for research since 2007. Strokes gained is a better method for measuring performance because it compares a player’s performance to the rest of the field and because it can isolate individual aspects of the game. Traditional golf statistics, such as greens in regulation and putts per green, are influenced by a player’s performance on shots other than those being measured.

The PGA TOUR also produces strokes gained: total, which measures a player’s performance against the field, and strokes gained: tee-to-green, which measures all strokes not taken on the putting green.

To explain how strokes gained can be used to analyze a player’s performance, let’s start with strokes gained: total. Strokes gained: total simply compares a player’s score to the field average. For example, a player will gain three strokes on the field if he shoots 69 on a day when the field averages 72. A player who shoots 74 on that day loses two strokes to the field.

It seems like a very simple concept and here is a video that might add more clarification on strokes gained:

If I analyze my game, I think shots off the tee and putting is where I might make the most impact against my opponents. Of course, I will never know unless I tracked their stats (that is not going to happen), but it is fun to muse about the possibilities.

Strokes gained is a definitely an elite stat that the majority of golfers need not worry about. It is nice to understand the concept, but he practical applications for the regular weekend players does not seem to have the same draw.

I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!


3 thoughts on “Gaining Strokes On The Field

  1. Jim, fascinating concept and you are very correct about amateur’s inability to use. As you mention, it’s simply because we cannot measure. But even if we could measure, our minds work differently than tour pros that are constantly playing against the field. They are aware of how the field may be playing a particular hole and its impact on field performance, and we are aware of our own game or that of our opponent. Essentially, everything that’s in front of us. If I am playing in a stroke-play competition with 64 players, I’m just concerned with how I’m playing that day not how the weather may be affecting the field on any particular hole. If it is cold and windy and I shoot 10-over par, I probably think I played poorly and had a bad day, even if the conditions affected the scores of the field. Pros take a much more macro view.



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      • There’s always Shot Scope. The new v3 of their watch comes with chips for your clubs and will track stats and allow you to compare strokes gained and lost against different player types so you could see your states compared with the pro’s if you wanted or with other golfers of your own ability. I’ll post a video below that gives a pretty good rundown on what you can see if you use it from Dan Hendrickson Golf. They started using it recently and it looks very interesting indeed.

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