Why Conventional Wisdom Gets It Wrong About Putting – Part 1

Scott Sackett
Director of Instruction
McCormick Ranch Golf Club
Scottsdale, AZ

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If you watch the PGA Tour every week and listen to the announcers, the perception can easily be picked up that putting is the primary reason for great play & winning. This statement is rarely ever questioned, let alone explored. I’ve never heard through the years that the PGA Tour is just one giant putting contest.

The ideas in this tip put forth surround the Strokes Gained statistic, which uses PGA Tour ShotLink data across millions of shots to determine a player’s performance against the field in each category of play. Instead of trying to quantify your performance against fairways hit, greens in regulation and putts, which by the way isn’t at all an indicator of good or bad play, Strokes Gained quantifies fractional gains and totals them for Total Strokes Gained.    

How Important is Putting?
The numbers show that it’s possible to win with below-average putting, but victories on Tour almost NEVER happen with below-average ball striking. On average, putting contributes to only 15% of a players total scoring advantage, while off the green shots contributed to the other 85%.  

These stats were from 2004 through 2012 and is across at least 200 rounds of play. Notice the far-right column, PCS. PCS stands for “Putting’s Contribution to Scoring.” This is calculated by taking the Strokes Gained per round divided by the total strokes gained per round relative to the field. As you can see, PCS ranges from -11% all the way to Luke Donald at 39%. PCS varies from round to round but when you average out the total PCS, across the 240 Pros measured, you get 15%.  

The next installment of this will discuss whether those who win on the PGA Tour rely on their putting more than the average PCS or less. Just to give you something to think about in the meantime. There is one tournament that really stands out that is mind blowing. In 2008, Vijay Singh, won the WGC Bridgestone with his putting contributing -37% overall to his victory. More on that to come.

Follow Scott on Instagram @scottsackettgolf.  Scott Sackett, GOLF Magazine Top 100 Teacher the past 14 years. Voted as one of Golf Digest’s Best Teacher in the State the past 21 years. Trackman Master Instructor. Titleist Certified Club Fitter. Director of Instruction at Park Meadows CC in Park City, Utah and while in Scottsdale, he teaches private lessons at McCormick Ranch Golf Club. The Scott Sackett Signature Schools take place at SunRidge Canyon Golf Club. Email: scott@scottsackett.com|Site URL: https://www.scottsackett.com.