Author Archives: Scott Freeman

Strokes Gained Golf Patent Granted

It’s an exciting time for Strokes Gained Golf! After almost 4 years of work we just received our patent (Patent No. US 9,542,596 B2).

There is a story behind Strokes Gained Golf. It was started by my brother and I, two amateur golfers who took a keen interest in the potential of strokes gained statistics when the PGA Tour first started using Strokes Gained Putting back in 2011 I think it was. We dug into Mark Brodie’s papers on strokes gained and realized what a powerful tool it was for measuring golf performance for every aspect of the game – not just putting.

Frustrated that nobody was providing a way for us to make use of this statistic ourselves, we finally decided if nobody else was doing it, we would. We went to work on our patent application for systems and devices that could collect accurate data as easily as possible, provide real-time feedback, and present and track results. At the same time, we pooled our own money to invest in the development of a “minimum viable product” that could be used by anyone who wanted it in the meantime – thus, this website and the web-based mobile phone data collection.

On a shoestring budget and with zero marketing, this basic tool has attracted golfers in the U.S. and countries all over the world who want the power of convenient, accurate strokes gained statistics.

With patent in hand, we’ll be talking with potential investors and partners to help us take Strokes Gained Golf from this web-based basic tool to where we envision it going: interfacing with phone apps, other GPS-enabled devices, rangefinders, and offering team accounts for teaching pros and coaches. And we couldn’t ask for better timing, as 2016 has seen the greatest expansion of strokes gained categories used on the PGA Tour. We want amateurs to have the same stats for their own games. We hope to provide you with some good news and updates in upcoming months, and we appreciate your patience as we investigate where this goes next.

 

Strokes Gained in 2016

Strokes Gained Golf is excited to enter the 2016 season!  We’re working on some new features for this year and are offering discounted pricing.

 

NEW FEATURES:

Near the end of last year we added some features that should appeal especially to the international community of golfers.  You may recall that as of August, 2015 we added a metric unit toggle for those who play the game in meters rather than feet and inches.  Along with that, you can now identify your golf course in several countries around the world; not just in the United States.

We are currently in development on new  Team Features.  This will introduce a new “Golf Coach” account that will have the ability to link to players that make up a team or organization.  It will enable coaches to view their team lists, rank them by various strokes gained categories, track their progress, and compare identified players graphically.

If you may be interested in these features as a coach or golf organization, or have suggestions on what tools you might envision to be useful to you, we encourage you to drop us an email and share your ideas. Based upon feedback from last year, we believe this may prove to be a very popular feature.

 

2016 INTRODUCTORY SUBSCRIPTION REDUCTION:

Right now, you can get your first annual subscription to Strokes Gained Golf for just $39.95.  If you have not yet subscribed, take advantage of this reduced price while you can.  It will be available through March, 2016 and is subject to change thereafter.

Don’t forget, whether you are already a member or will be a new one this year, you are eligible for drastically reduced subscription renewal fees by simply inviting your friends!  Just click on the “Earn Discounts” tab at the top of the home page the next time you visit the site, follow the steps, and encourage your friends to join!

 

THANK YOU!

Thank you to all of you who have joined Strokes Gained Golf already.  And a special thank you for those of you who keep in touch and offer your feedback and input.  We greatly value it and we do take it into consideration.

Metric System Golf and Early Adopters

METRIC UNIT STATISTICS:

Since launching the Strokes Gained Golf site a few months ago, we have been very interested to see some surprising results.  For example, interest in strokes gained statistics is proportionately greater overseas, especially in European countries, than in the U.S.  Though we are not certain exactly what that means, it does at least indicate that European golfers are catching on faster than their American counterparts to the unmatched power these statistics provide for the golfer who wants to track and improve his or her performance.

Another important reminder for us was that of the millions of golfers around the globe, the game is not played universally in imperial units (yards and feet).  Most countries have adopted the metric system for measuring everything, including golf, in terms of meters.

For this reason we at Strokes Gained Golf are currently implementing a metric “toggle” into our services.  Golfers will be able to select whether they want to record rounds in yards/feet or meters.  Similarly, all our viewable output graphs will also render statistical results in meters, including 1/10 meter for shorter putts.

We are targeting the launch of our metric unit option for early September, 2015.  And if you are perfectly happy with golf in yards/feet, nothing will change for you. We hope this will broaden the interest in strokes gained statistics to those who do everything in the metric system.

EARLY ADOPTER PERIOD ENDING:

Don’t forget our $25 annual subscription Early Adopter period is ending soon!  Those of you who got in early at this discounted rate are lifetime “early adopters” and will enjoy the benefits  of this low base rate whenever you renew.  It’s not too late to get in to this great discount deal, but it will end August 31, 2015.  After that, all new subscriptions will be at the normal $72 annual subscription rate.  That is still just $6 per month – the price of one or two golf balls! And remember, even if you are not an Early Adopter, you can still earn substantial discount up to 95% off by inviting your friends to join through the website’s “Invite a Buddy” process. Once you sign up, just click on “Earn Discounts” on the home page.

Technology Upgrade Coming

We have been very pleased with the results of our December 2014 launch.  Of course, as expected with a launch of any new project like this we encountered some bugs and have been diligently ironing out little annoyances so our members can continue with bug-free experiences.

We are very close to launching an improvement to our Record-a-Round interface.  By implementing a different technology, our developers have modified this interface to make it function  smoother and much faster.  For those of you in Europe who may have experienced some slow data upload times, we hope this will correct that problem.  For the rest of you, you will enjoy increased speed and ease.  Here is a list of some of what has been improved in the upgrade:

  • The Record-a-Round screen will no longer “refresh” after each completed stroke to return a calculated sg value. This used to take 1-4 seconds before you could continue data input. Now you can enter data uninterrupted while the data transfer and calculations operate in the background, returning sg values without a screen refresh as soon as they are calculated.
  • Distance input will be seen in the scorecard cell as you type.
  • The “from” tee box cell is now editable without having to clear the hole.
  • When playing at a new course, the order of input has been corrected so that course name and par values are entered before any stroke information is requested.
  • Editing Penalties has been made more clear and easy than before, with new screen interfaces to guide users through the options for new distance, lie type, or cancellation.
  • From the Scorecard View for Previous Rounds, clicking on any hole will take you directly to that hole for editing.  Some additional editing bugs have been fixed to make this function operate more smoothly.

We hope you will enjoy these new features as much as we have in our testing.  We anticipate launching the new improvements sometime this week, as soon as we are done testing.  You don’t have to change anything, and the interface will look the same.  You will notice the changes the next time you play.

Thank you to all who have become members since our launch.  We were very pleased to see interest in Canada and Europe and hope to see many more join us this season.

How do you measure distances on the green to get your strokes gained putting stats?

The fuel for the strokes gained stats engine is accurate data for each shot played during a round.  Lie type is easy to determine and poses few problems.  Distance-to-hole off the green is also fairly simple and straightforward to determine.  Most golfers these days utilize GPS or laser technology already to determine distances before playing a shot, so using that information to enter distance-to-hole data will not interfere with the way most golfers already go about their business.  At Strokes Gained Golf, we are keenly aware that strokes gained statistics, no matter how beneficial, are not likely to be accessed by many golfers if entering the necessary data is not simple.  The process of collecting and recording the data cannot interfere with the normal flow of a round of golf.  So determining off-the-green distances is something most golfers already do regularly, whether it is with GPS, laser, or on-course markers, and we strongly believe the collection of that data will not be an imposition.

On the green, collecting and recording accurate distances is a bit more challenging.  Many golfers putt by “sight” and/or by “feel”, and consequently never know the distance of each putt.  Collecting the necessary data on the green to generate strokes gained putting stats requires knowing the distance-to-hole of each putt.  The closer the putt, the more important the distance: from 3-10 feet every foot makes a big difference in terms of strokes-to-hole benchmarks.  A 3 foot putt is very different from a 5 foot putt.

So how do we recommend you determine distances-to-hole on the green?  GPS is not accurate enough.  Laser could be used for longer putts, but most devices round to the nearest yard, so distances are not overly accurate.  Furthermore, pulling your laser rangefinder out on the green is a little awkward and may interfere with a golfer’s normal putting routine.

At Strokes Gained Golf, we believe the best method for determining distances on the green is simply “pacing off” the putt.  We have been using this method for our own golf games for years with great success.  We have been entering strokes gained data for our own use for two years, and pacing off putts has proven to be very accurate and does not interfere at all with the flow of play with groups on the green.  Furthermore, it can be very beneficial for your putting to have an accurate distance. It certainly doesn’t hurt.  Knowing the exact distance of a putt need not interfere with sight or feel.  It merely supplements it.

Honing in your method of pacing off a putt does not take long, and we think you will actually find the process will aid your putting once you incorporate it into your putting routine.  Here are some basic tips/guidelines that may help you dial in your distances:

  • Learn a “pace” so that  you know the distance of each stride, and learn to consistently repeat it.  This may be easier than you think: we feel we can pace off putts within a few inches.  I have honed in a pace that consistently gives me three feet per stride.  You may find a stride that works at 2 or 2 and a half feet.  The point is to be able to consistently repeat it.  I like to walk at a certain tempo, with large strides.
  • Learn to time your pace to fit in with the normal flow when playing with a group.  Sometimes I will pace off my putt while going to pull the flag for a playing partner, or on the way back from pulling the flag.  When the opportunity presents itself, do your pace-off.  If I can’t do it well in advance of my “turn”, then I just incorporate the pace into my putting routine.
  • Learn to pace off a putt while simultaneously observing the putt from every angle.  Most golf pros recommend looking at a putt from above AND below the hole, so learn to pace off your putt as you go to look at it from below the hole, or on your way back.
  • Of course, be aware of other balls/marks on the green as always, and don’t walk on other golfers’ lines.  This is very simple.
  • Sometimes you may have to pace off a putt “off to the side”, particularly if other golfers’ positions on the green require it.
  • You will find that you can almost always pace off your putt without interrupting the flow of the game at all.  In fact, it is a great way to “slow yourself down” on the green, and to be deliberate as is generally recommended by pros.
  • You can probably determine the distance of shorter putts without pacing them off.  Putts under 5 feet are pretty easy to figure out visually.  A little practice will allow you to eyeball the distance up to ten feet.  Be careful though: most golfers are not very good at determining distances without considerable practice, and misjudging distances can dramatically alter the statistics.
  • The exact distance on longer putts is not overly important: the strokes-to-hole benchmarks are very similar for 31 or 33 foot putts.  Save your energy for getting very accurate distances under 15 feet.
  • If your distance is off a little bit occasionally, it is not the end of the world.  The data will smooth out over time, so don’t sweat it too much.
  • Use the distances to your advantage: knowing distances can really help you be a better putter!

There may eventually be a better way to determine distances on greens, but for now we believe this is probably the best method.  Some golfers may be able to estimate the distance quite accurately visually, but don’t assume you are accurate!  If you are going to estimate, then at least practice and make sure your predictions are adequately accurate!

Once you master determining distances on the green, and commit to recording this accurate data, a whole world of extremely useful putting stats will open up before you.  In addition to “strokes gained putting” stats used by the PGA Tour, you will be able to further break down those strokes gained putting stats into specific distance ranges, so that you can know how well you putt from under 5 feet, from 5-10 feet, over 30 feet, etc.

We know you will love the strokes gained putting stats, but it is up to you to provide the quality data fuel that will make that engine purr!

PGA Tour Strokes Gained Benchmarks: Where do they come from, and are they useful to all of us non-PGA Tour golfers?

All strokes gained golf stats start with detailed baselines or “benchmarks”.  These benchmarks represent strokes-to-hole values for every distance-to-hole and lie type possible.  Lie types include tee, fairway, rough, sand, green, and recovery.  Benchmark numbers are usually expressed to a hundredth of a stroke.  On the green, distance-to-hole is expressed in feet, and off the green all distances are expressed in yards.  These benchmarks provide the essential foundation upon which all strokes gained stats are derived.

Benchmark values are determined using an extremely reliable process.  Vital to the process is the establishment of a consistently performing group of golfers in consistent conditions.  While alternative groups could potentially be used, strokes gained stats are currently based upon the performance of PGA Tour pros in PGA Tour events.  There are a great many advantages to using this well-known group of golfers to determine strokes gained benchmarks:

  • ample resources are available to ensure that the data collection is consistent and accurate
  • course conditions are generally consistent over the course of a season
  • golfers are of relatively equal ability and remain that way over time
  • golfers perform relatively consistently over time
  • strokes-to-hole values are at their highest possible level, neatly establishing “top-end” benchmarks that are the highest of any group of golfers in the world
  • over time, millions of shots can be utilized

Fortunately, the PGA Tour sensed the potential of collecting extensive data for tournaments back in 2003, and we are still reaping the benefits of their foresight.  While they did not predict the development of strokes gained methodology, they understood the value of extensive, detailed golf shot data enough to commit extensive resources to the project.  Around 2003, the Tour developed and implemented the Shotlink data collection system, which employs hundreds of volunteers and employees at each event to collect detailed data for every shot taken.  Shotlink has proven to be spectacularly successful, providing the foundation for all kinds of new statistics, information, and analysis.

The development of strokes gained golf stats may prove to be the most important result of Shotlink.  Interestingly, there are really only a few pieces of data that make the whole spectacular machine run: golfer identification for each shot, distance-to hole before and after every shot, and lie type before and after every shot.  It is this simple data, for every shot taken since 2003, that forms the basis of strokes gained stats.

The strokes-to-hole benchmarks are determined by examining results of literally millions of shots.  So when the benchmark tables show that the PGA Tour average strokes-to-hole from 37 feet on the green is 2.03 strokes, or that a shot from the fairway 140 yards from the hole averages 2.92 strokes, it is not mere conjecture.  The value is determined by taking into account literally tens of thousands of shots from that distance range.  In fact, statisticians found that all new data coming in strongly reinforced the value they already had established for each distance and lie type.  In other words, all the new data constantly pouring in from the tour only serves to support the already existing benchmarks.

The potential of strokes gained methodology to completely change the way golf is played and analyzed on the PGA Tour is nearly limitless, and serves as a great, extensive topic to be explored in a later blog post.

However, what I’d like to explore here is what this all means for you and your golf game.  How does having these extremely accurate benchmarks and this extremely elegant strokes gained methodology impact your typical scratch golfer, 80 golfer, 90 golfer, etc?  How can the strokes-to-hole figures for the best golfers in the world affect how I play and critique my own golf game in my own little corner of the world?

In short, strokes gained stats to measure performance of non-PGA Tour golfers is exceptionally valuable.  Having PGA Tour strokes-to-hole values is valuable because it is all relative.  For the majority of golfers, “par” is a goal for a round that they are unlikely to achieve.  However, we still use “par” as a baseline or benchmark to compare our score to.  In much the same way, golfers are able to compare the quality of each shot to the PGA Tour benchmark value for that shot.  Over time, most golfers will likely not be able to approach the benchmarks in any category.  That is not the point.  The point is to know where you stand relative to the benchmark.  The beauty of the benchmark is that it represents a stable, consistent point to compare your own golf game with.  Just as most golfers do not expect to shoot par for a round, they should not expect to achieve an average in any category that equals the PGA Tour benchmarks.

The result is that we are essentially able to create new benchmarks, relative to the PGA Tour benchmark.  For example, after keeping stats for an entire year, your strokes gained putting may show that you lose 2.32 strokes to the benchmark.  Furthermore, your tee shots on par 4s and 5s may show a -5.63 value by years end.  You have now established your own “benchmark”: during the next year you now know at the end of each round whether your putting and tee shots are better or worse than your own average.  In other words, while the value for putting is stated as -2.32, and the tee value is stated as -5.63, there is nothing negative about the values.  These values now represent your own personal benchmarks.  If you turn in a new round with a strokes gained putting value of -1.25 and a tee value of -3.53, you know you have improved upon your average.

Just remember, all the values are relative.  You will be surprised, however, by how many of your own individual shots will surpass the PGA Tour average!  Most likely you will have several shots during a round that will “beat the pro”, resulting in positive strokes gained values for the shot and a real thrill!  This is really a whole unique benefit of strokes gained analysis: each shot takes on its own value, and this is almost always a good thing.  All of a sudden there is a new game within the game.  That’s a subject for another blog post in its own right.  You may even have entire rounds where you beat the PGA Tour average in some category.  Over time the edge may be lost, but it is very gratifying to know that on that day, in that aspect of the game, you played at a pro level!

Of course, this concept of “relativity” can be greatly expanded.  Not only can you establish benchmarks for your own game in any category, but you can compare yourself to any other golfer or group of golfers that are keeping strokes gained stats.  You will be able to compare yourself to a scratch golfer, a 5 handicapper, a ten handicapper, a 20 handicapper.  In any category, for individual shots, individual rounds, or over time.  This site will very soon have the ability to establish accurate benchmarks for any handicap level.  You can compare various aspects of your game to friends across the country.  Eventually, you may be able to compete with golfers in other locations.  Furthermore, you can compare yourself to any individual pro.  How does your putting stack up to Steve Stricker or Tiger Woods?  All of this is possible and not at all difficult with strokes gained statistics.

Just remember: all strokes gained values are relative.  The PGA benchmarks are the top of the top: the ultimate goal we can all aspire to.  But strokes gained stats will allow you to compare yourself to anyone- including yourself.

 

 

 

Welcome to Strokes Gained Golf

Welcome to the launch of strokesgainedgolf.com and our first blog article! We hope your interest in strokes gained golf analytics will find much here to satisfy not just your curiosity about this new development in golf, but also fulfill a need by providing personal amateur golf statistics superior to anything previously offered anywhere. We at Strokes Gained Golf are just getting underway.  We have much to offer but much more is being developed.  Our introductory product will launch very soon, and will be followed by planned improvements, expansions, refinements, and features which will continue to make Strokes Gained Golf more informative and easier to use. As amateur golfers ourselves, we have been excited about the prospect of strokes gained golf analytics for several years, since its development by Mark Broadie and initial implementation as “Strokes Gained Putting” on the PGA Tour.  The implications of this new statistic upon the game of golf and the way golfers, pros and amateurs alike, measure and seek to improve their games, are vast.  Recognizing the superiority of the strokes gained method of measuring golf performance, its elegant flexibility for application to virtually every type of shot made in the game, the potential for revolutionary change in personal golf game analysis, and finding that nowhere was anyone offering (or at the time even talking about) a way to make this all available to the average golfer, we decided to do something about it.  We have developed a methodology (patent pending) for making the necessary data collection easy for anyone, so any golfer can take advantage of the power of this powerful golf analysis tool. The intent of our initial product is to provide both a functional and useful tool in making personal strokes gained game analysis for amateurs accessible, as well as “test” the level of interest in personal strokes gained statistics, so that we may respond with informed prioritized improvements.  The initial product will:

  • Provide for an easy means, both electronically and manually, to record the data necessary for personal strokes gained analytics.  This will consist of various options including: data input via mobile phone during rounds of golf; data input via computer or tablet after playing rounds of golf; a simple “strokes gained scorecard” for quick manual or electronic input.
  • Provide automated strokes gained analysis for subscribers, indicating measurements across all shot categories in both snapshots and progress-over-time. Strokes Gained Golf will automatically calculate and track strokes gained results upon upload of personal data.  Stats will include everything from overall strokes gained “handicap” values to key categories (driving, long game, short game, putting) with ability to drill down to 10-yard ranges.

Our next step is to complete the development of our mobile phone app (iPhone and Android compatible) that will take advantage of GPS technology to provide automated distance readings.  Along with it, Strokes Gained Golf will increase the analysis interface and flexibility to evaluate and compare virtually any detailed aspect of personal golf game analysis. Whether you have kept up with recent developments of strokes gained golf statistics, or are one for whom the term “strokes gained” is relatively new, we hope you will find our website informative and educational.  We hope you will choose the “Learn More” link to leave us your email address so that we can keep you posted on developments and the launch of our initial product so you can be among the first to give it a try. Information will continue to be added to strokesgainedgolf.com.  This blog will continue to include new articles covering various aspects of strokes gained, how it is and can be used. We would love to hear from you and encourage you to offer your feedback on our blog.  Our initial product is almost complete and will undergo final testing over the next several weeks.  We hope you will avail yourself of the opportunity to measure every aspect of your golf game using strokes gained statistics and help us develop the next phases.