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Bringing Strokes Gained statistics to all golfers.

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!

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