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Saturday, April 26, 2014

Mark Broadie, Creator Of Golf Sabermetrics

Or as Paul O’Neill asked Michael the Kay last night: “This might seem like a stupid question…but who is Bill James?”

With this book, Broadie is trying to do for golf what Bill James did for baseball, and that is finding a numeric way to evaluate the game. Broadie said his approach is very similar to James’ sabermetrics, saying, “We’re both trying to take the information and data that’s out there to try and understand the sport a little better.”

Hardy agreed that a statistical analysis makes even more sense in golf than it does in baseball, because there isn’t a team factor involved in it.

...Broadie believes the current statistics golf has tell you what happened on the course, but not why it did. His book looks to explain the why.

Rather than just the traditional Strokes Gained Putting statistic, Broadie has established a way to calculate Strokes Gained Driving, Strokes Gained For Approach Shots, Strokes Gained For Short Game, as well as Strokes Gained Putting. This way, you can look and see how a golfer won by five strokes.

Repoz Posted: April 26, 2014 at 09:33 AM | 14 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: sabermetrics

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   1. SoCalDemon Posted: April 26, 2014 at 09:49 AM (#4694676)
Golf seems like, at least in theory, it is perfectly set up for statistical analysis. You have 100+ players all competing on the same course, which allows a ton of statistical power. Everyone is competing "against" the same standard, rather than against another player or group of players, as in all team sports (and many individual one's, such as MMA and boxing). I think a GolfFX system would be pretty illuminating.

   2. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: April 26, 2014 at 10:09 AM (#4694680)
Dave Pelz's 1999 Short Game Bible (and Putting Bible) deserves high praise in this category.
   3. Joe Bivens, Minor Genius Posted: April 26, 2014 at 10:30 AM (#4694686)
Many times, conditions on a course change during the course of the day, rendering the course one plays in the afternoon different from the one others played that morning. Just saying.
   4. BDC Posted: April 26, 2014 at 10:43 AM (#4694691)
Broadie is still alive, right? Headlines like this make me nervous.
   5. John Northey Posted: April 26, 2014 at 11:18 AM (#4694699)
A time of day factor would be a smart addition as morning vs afternoon play can be very different on a course. Afternoons it tends to be dryer and thus the ball goes further when it hits the ground granting distance but losing some control. That could be a major factor on a hot day, minimal on a cool one. Now, the PGA would have better groomed courses with a lot of controls to help minimize the effect but it would be there. With detailed stats like this mixed with a time of day indicator for opening 2 days of a 4 day tournament (when golfers are more randomly distributed vs final 2 when they tend to be in order of how they are playing) you could really see how much of an effect it is.
   6. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: April 26, 2014 at 12:12 PM (#4694716)
It would have been nice to be able to read an actual article about this, instead of the piece just having a link to an audio recording. I guess that would have involved work for the writer, though.
   7. The District Attorney Posted: April 26, 2014 at 12:39 PM (#4694723)
Umm, this needs an actual name.

"Duffermetrics"?
   8. Howie Menckel Posted: April 26, 2014 at 04:35 PM (#4694869)

My brother actually plays in a for-money fantasy golf league (!) in which four PGA Tour players are chosen each week, and I imagine some of this info could be exploited for profit.

Or else, of course, the terrorists will have won.
   9. Walt Davis Posted: April 26, 2014 at 07:58 PM (#4694976)
Hardy agreed that a statistical analysis makes even more sense in golf than it does in baseball, because there isn’t a team factor involved in it.

And relating to #1 as well...

While it has certain advantages for statistical analysis, what is the point of analyzing it to begin with? That's just it, it is an individual game under reasonably similar conditions ... what is there to "understand"? This guy's performance is driven by his quality off the tee, this guy's performance is driven by his putting, etc. Isn't that already known? How does that tell you anything more than simply looking at the guy's overall performance over a long stretch?

For gambling/fantasy purposes, it might occasionally give you insight into whether a particular golfer is well-suited to that week's course. I suppose a study of aging effects would be interesting. But what makes sabermetrics interesting is that you have to control for tons of stuff, that different but equally valuable skill sets might be priced differently, that short-term and long-term decisions and strategies have to be employed.
   10. RMc is a fine piece of cheese Posted: April 26, 2014 at 10:10 PM (#4695055)
Umm, this needs an actual name.

"Duffermetrics"?


"Sagermetrics", I assume. (Of course, someone would have to form the Society for American Golf Research first...)
   11. Mike Emeigh Posted: April 26, 2014 at 11:41 PM (#4695103)
With this book, Broadie is trying to do for golf what Bill James did for baseball, and that is finding a numeric way to evaluate the game.


And that is precisely not what James tried to do. Baseball had (and has always had) "a numeric way to evaluate the game" (many of them, actually) - as he pointed out himself, baseball arguments have always revolved around numbers. What James was trying to do was to define a framework - primarily by asking questions about the game - within which the numbers could be evaluated and interpreted.

"Sagermetrics", I assume. (Of course, someone would have to form the Society for American Golf Research first...)


There's this. JAGRmetrics might work :)

-- MWE
   12. Jim P Posted: April 28, 2014 at 12:26 PM (#4695842)
While it has certain advantages for statistical analysis, what is the point of analyzing it to begin with?

The players themselves can use the analysis in two ways:
1. Allocating practice time. I've done this with my own game and figured out that even if I got to pro-level out of the sand, I'd be saving less than a stroke per round, so I don't bother practicing it.
2. On-course decision making. If a player has at least a ballpark estimate of what a bad shot will cost him, he can decide whether it's worth it.

Dave Pelz has long recommended carrying an extra wedge at the expense of a long iron, and he convinced pro player Jim Simons to drop his 2 iron in pro-ams and lay up with a 6 iron instead. It turns out he actually lowered his average score in those situations, and so permanently dropped the club from his bag.

Broadie had an article in one of the golf magazines recently showing how an average golfer could use this. On a tough par 4 with trouble right, a typical golfer with a typical spray pattern off the tee would be better off aiming for the left rough, reducing the % of out of bounds drives from 15% to 5% (or something like that), and having a lower average score.
   13. Andy McGeady Posted: April 29, 2014 at 06:15 AM (#4696398)
 Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: April 26, 2014 at 12:12 PM (#4694716)
It would have been nice to be able to read an actual article about this, instead of the piece just having a link to an audio recording. I guess that would have involved work for the writer, though.

I wrote about this recently for the Irish Examiner, having met Mark at this year's Sloan conference. Here's a link to an extended version I put on my own site. Hope you find it interesting.

http://www.andymcgeady.com/strokes-gained-analytics-changing-golf/
   14. Dan Lee is some pumkins Posted: April 29, 2014 at 08:09 AM (#4696414)
JAGRmetrics might work
That should be hockey.

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