Shoot Lower Golf Scores Using Strokes Gained

  • Author: Iain Highfield
Facebook Twitter Share Email Print

Player statistics have come a long way in recent years. It used to be that even tour pros had to make do with a few basic metrics such as driving distance, greens in regulation and number of putts per round.

But new technology has made possible the immediate calculation of a huge number of performance statistics. The PGA Tour’s Shotlink system, for example, produces an enormous number of metrics for the pros, and apps such as Anova Golf can produce more than 700 different stats for users at all levels of the game.

It’s fair to say that some of these will probably be of limited value for the average player, but there are some relatively new metrics, such as the “Strokes Gained” set, of which you should definitely be aware.       

What is “Strokes Gained”

The strokes gained concept grew out of the intuition that some shots just feel more valuable than others, even though it is difficult to represent this on the scorecard.

So, for example, hitting a 175 yard approach shot to the center of the green from thick rough may feel like a shot gained when compared with a wedge from 125 yards out in the fairway, even though they will count equally in terms of your Greens in Regulation (GIR) score.

Likewise, traditional metrics such as number of putts can be misleading because they depend on other aspects of your game. It feels great to be carding a high number of single putt greens, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a great putter. It may just be that you’re giving yourself a lot of short putts because you’re skilled with your wedges around the green.

The Strokes Gained Calculation

So the different strokes gained metrics try to isolate particular types of shot from these complicating factors, and to provide an objective way of measuring players’ performance in different facets of the game.

This is done by gathering performance data from all players in a defined group, such as the field in a pro tournament or all male players in America with a handicap of nine or less.

If that group takes an average of 1.8 putts to hole out from 10 feet, a player who makes a putt from that range gains 0.8 on that hole. If he three putts he loses 1.2. All these figures are totaled up at the end of a round to give a net figure of shots gained or lost, and of course a running total can be maintained during a season or even a career.  

To hear how some top GLT coaches use stats click the video below 

Find out WHY Arick uses Anova by checking out their site

The Strokes Gained Metrics  

Both the PGA Tour stats and the Anova Golf system produce a number of different strokes gained figures grouped under the headings of off-the-tee, approach-the-green and around-the-green.

These three figures together give an overall figure for strokes gained tee-to-green, and there is also a whole separate section devoted to shots gained putting.

Within each grouping there is a number of sub-groupings which include different distances from the pin in 25 yard bands, playing from the rough, playing from sand and playing from the fringe of the green.

How to Use Strokes Gained

Using an app like Anova to look at these different figures, it becomes easy to see exactly where your strengths and weaknesses lie, and it’s much more valuable to know, as a matter of fact, that you are relatively poor at getting down into two from the rough around the green than it is to say, as everyone can, that “I need to work on my short game”.

With this specific knowledge, it then becomes much easier to prioritize the things you need to work on during the precious time you have available for practice.

And this kind of highly focused practice can only lead to a much more rapid improvement in scoring.