Strokes gained allows for the comparison of every shot taken during a round of golf with a benchmark. At Arccos we use a scratch golfer (0 handicap) as our benchmark whom we refer to as Mr. Scratch. It is also possible to compare with other benchmarks such as the PGA Tour or other handicaps.
Strokes gained is a quantitative measurement tool that allows us to better understand the quality of any shot taken during a round of golf, allowing for accurate assessment of a golfer's strengths and weaknesses. Once a golfer accurately, with real data, understands their game's weaknesses, they are better able to develop a practice regime to address their shortcomings.
- Strokes Gained Driving reflects your performance off the tee on par 4s and par 5s. It takes into account both distance and accuracy, on a per-shot basis. Penalties from driving and recovery shots associated with drives also impact Strokes Gained Driving. For example, if you hit your drive into trouble (e.g. where you cannot take a direct approach to the green) and must hit a recovery shot to get back into position, this will impact your strokes gained driving instead of Strokes Gained Approach.
- Strokes Gained Approach reflects your performance on shots taken from more than 50 yards from the green, including layup shots. It takes into account the lie you were hitting from, as well as distance and accuracy. Your Approach Handicap also includes tee shots on par 3s but excludes recovery shots required to get back into position after a poor drive.
- Strokes Gained Chipping reflects your performance on shots taken within 50 yards (45 meters) of the green, excluding shots from greenside bunkers and putts. Individual putts taken from off the green may be tagged as chips, in which case they will impact Strokes Gained Chipping rather than Strokes Gained Putting.
- Strokes Gained Sand reflects your performance on shots taken from greenside bunkers. Bunkers within 50-yards of the center of the green are classed as greenside bunkers. It is driven by both the distance of the shot and the proximity to the pin.
- Strokes Gained Putting reflects your performance on all putts. It compares the actual number of putts taken to the expected number of strokes to hole out based on the initial distance to the pin.
Where does the benchmark, Mr. Scratch, come from?
Peter Sanders, our statistical consultant, has recorded over 314,000 rounds of golf in a proprietary database. By accessing this database Arccos is able to determine how a scratch golfer performs on any type of golf hole, and from any point, on the hole (tee, fairway, rough, sand, putting green) This allows us to accurately benchmark a golfer's performance, subsequently identifying strengths and weaknesses.
Understanding how strokes gained works is best explained by working through an example. Below we present a 400 yard Par 4 and analyze the tee shot, the approach shot, and putting.
The Tee Shot
On the below 400 yard Par 4 hole (from where Mr. Scratch will average 4.140 strokes) a golfer hit their tee shot 250 yards into the middle of the fairway. The strokes gained value of the tee shot is calculated as follows:
No. of strokes Mr. Scratch would take on a 400 yard Par 4 (4.140)
No. of strokes Mr. Scratch would take from the fairway with 150 yards remaining to the hole (2.995)
The tee shot (1.000)
Strokes gained for the shot (+0.145)
Meaning that the tee shot was 0.145 strokes better than Mr. Scratch.
The Approach Shot
For their approach shot from 150 yards (from where Mr. Scratch will average 2.995 strokes), the golfer hits their approach shot onto the green, 25 feet from the hole. The strokes gained calculation for the approach shot is as follows:
No. of strokes Mr. Scratch would take from 150 yards in the fairway (2.995)
No. of strokes Mr. Scratch would take when putting on the green from 25 feet (1.982)
The approach shot (1.000)
Strokes gained for the shot (+0.013)
Meaning that the approach shot was 0.013 strokes better than Mr. Scratch.
The First Putt
For the first putt, from 25 feet (from where Mr. Scratch will take 1.982 putts) the golfer leaves the putt 4 feet short of the hole. The strokes gained calculation for the first putt would be as follows:
No. of putts Mr. Scratch would take from 25 feet (1.982)
No. of putts Mr. Scratch would take from 4 feet (1.189)
The putt (1.000)
Strokes gained for the putt (-0.207)
Meaning the first putt was 0.207 strokes worse than Mr. Scratch.
The Second Putt
This value (+0.140) is the same value that we can calculate if we take the number of strokes that Mr. Scratch would take to complete the hole (4.140) and subtract the number of strokes that our golfer took (4.000).
While the results are the same and tell us that our golfer was superior to Mr. Scratch on this particular hole, by breaking down each shot and comparing it to our benchmark, we can better understand a golfer's strengths and weaknesses. In this case, the first putt was the golfer's weakest, losing -0.207 strokes. If this was a consistent finding the golfer would be guided to work on putts from 25 feet, rather than working on tee shots, approach shots, or 4-foot putts which are all strengths when compared to our benchmark.