Metric loss

Strokes won is an essential metric for golf bettors

Golf has a lot of data available, but not all of it is predictive of future success, mainly because some of it doesn’t explain very well what is actually happening on the golf course.

For example: Two golfers could hit an equal number of greens in regulation in a single round…say 60%.

There are obviously a ton of details missing, including:

  • Were they hitting him from the same distance?
  • Was it in the fairway or rough?
  • Where on the green did the ball land?
Shane Lowry
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There is a big difference between sticking approach shots within 5 feet and hitting the green but having a 60 foot putt every time.

This is where Strokes Gained comes in.

Strokes Gained can give golf bettors, DFS players and fans much more detail on how a golfer actually plays by measuring each stroke against the rest of the course.

Daniel Berger hits sand on the third hole during the final round of the Honda Classic golf tournament, Sunday, Feb. 27, 2022, in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
Daniel Berger

Mark Broadie, a professor at Columbia University, invented the “Strokes Gained” concept using ShotLink data, which is proprietary software that uses lasers and cameras to capture a ton of information about every shot a stroke hits. golfer.

Using the millions of data points it has, the Tour calculates the average number of shots it takes for a player to put the ball in the hole, regardless of distance and situation. If a player beats these averages, he earns hits on the court.

Here’s a good example, according to the PGA Tour. On average, it takes Tour players the following number of strokes to get the ball into the hole from the fairway:

  • 2.0 strokes on the hole: 7 yards
  • 2.5 strokes on the hole: 30 meters
  • 3.0 strokes on the hole: 168 yards

If the player finds the cup in two shots at 30 yards, he gains 0.5 shots. If he takes three hits, he has lost 0.5 hits. Tour data can do the same for every distance and situation.

Another great example: it takes players on average the same number of strokes to complete the hole from 70 yards in the rough (2.92) as they do from 150 yards in the fairway (2.92).

Sepp Straka lines up his putt on the eighth green during the final round of the Honda Classic golf tournament, Sunday, Feb. 27, 2022, in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
Sepp Straka

Every situation in golf is different – Strokes Gained measures how well players handle them relative to the situation.

What the Strokes Gained data has revealed is that the old golf adage “Drive for show, putt for dough” is wrong. The best players hit the ball farthest from the tee and stick their approach shots close.

Both of these factors tend to be more predictive from week to week than putting, which can be very random and difficult to predict. So generally you want to bet on the best ball strikers and hope their putters heat up, not the best putters hoping their irons come in.

Kurt Kitayama plays his shot from the third tee during the final round of The Honda Classic at PGA National Resort And Spa on February 27, 2022 in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.
Kurt Kitayama
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Statistics for the main strokes won categories – Off the Tee, Approach, Around the Green, Putting, Tee-to-Green – are published on

Tee-to-Green is perhaps the best metric of all. It’s basically the total strokes gained – which is the sum of teeing off, approaching, going around the green and putting – minus putting. As mentioned above, putting can be quite hit or miss from day to day and week to week. A golfer who consistently gives himself 5-foot birdie putts might score worse than one who drains 15-foot putts, but you’ll want to bet on the former in the long run. Things will balance out.