The Modern Stats Bettors Really Need for Golf Betting

A golf club poised to hit a golf ball.

The sport of golf is unique. Every different course is set up for specific styles of play, so it’s hard to predict which player is likely to win a tournament unless you know how well they’re handling specific areas of their game. You need all the information you can get. If you’re trying to improve your golf betting, you need to know how to analyze the latest golf statistics and apply them. This knowledge will enable you to see the numbers from previous tournaments in a different way and potentially identify underrated players whose moment may come soon. This could make a real difference to your online sports betting chances. One of the most important new statistics to help you weigh up sports betting odds differently is the strokes gained statistic. Find out more in our guide.

A golfer putting a ball on a green.

Old school golf statistics

Up until 2011, golf betting was based primarily on statistics such as driving accuracy (the percentage of drives that hit the fairway), the average number of putts per round, and fairways in regulation (number of fairways successfully hit with the first stroke on each hole from the tee). The most important old-school statistic is of greens in regulation, which is where the number of strokes is at least two below par and any part of the player’s ball touches the putting surface. These stats can help you understand a player’s performance during a round, but they are somewhat simplistic. This can be misleading when you’re making online sports betting choices.

Inaccurate golf betting odds

To understand why, consider two players (let’s call them Jack and Nick) who both have a greens in regulation of 50% during a round (nine out of 18 greens). It makes no difference to the stat whether Jack is hitting the green with an average proximity to hole of 6 feet, but Nick’s average proximity is 30 feet. Jack’s superior proximity sets him up for great birdie shots on nine greens out of 18, which is a lot better than Nick’s doing, but the greens in regulation stat doesn’t reflect that. And that doesn’t help an awful lot when it comes to weighing up your golf betting odds.

Advanced golf statistics: Strokes gained

The strokes gained statistic is the brainchild of Columbia University professor Mark Broadie. He took data from ShotLink, the PGA’s real-time tracking system, to develop a more accurate system. ShotLink shows exactly how far and where a player hits their shot. So Broadie was able to work out specific categories to analyze a player’s performance against the field average. First, he generated a baseline drawn from the average Tour pro’s performance from every single yardage and each grass or hazard type during a round. Then he devised a formula that actually analyzes how many strokes a player gained or lost on each shot, based on where and how far the ball landed.

Strokes gained explained

Here’s a specific example from Broadie himself that explains how the strokes gained statistic works: “For any approach from 100 to 225 yards, a shot into a penalty situation (awful!) has an SG (strokes gained) of -1.7 (i.e., it loses 1.7 strokes). A shot that simply misses the green has an SG of -0.3. A shot that hits the green outside of 20 feet from the hole gains zero strokes, but one that lands within 8 feet gains 0.7! SG quantifies in fractional strokes what we know to be true: Hitting a green is better than missing, and hitting it closer is better than farther.”

Stated differently: If the average number of putts to hole out from 7 feet, 10 inches is 1.5, a player who one-putts from that distance gains 0.5 strokes, loses 0.5 strokes if he two-putts, and loses 1.5 strokes if he three-putts. If the field gains one stroke over a round, a player who gains three strokes over the round gains two strokes (+2) against the field.

Strokes gained in detail

Sandbanks on a golf course at sunset.

You don’t have to be a professor to see that a 350-yard tee shot into the fairway is worth more than a 270-yard shot, while an iron hit to 15 feet away is more valuable than a hit to 40 feet away, even if both shots are greens in regulation. With strokes gained golf statistics, you can analyze the field and put the insights to use on the best sports betting sites. Let’s take a look in more detail.

SG: Putting (P)

SG:P is the easiest statistic to calculate and grasp. Let’s say the baseline from 10 feet is 1.5 strokes. A player who makes this scores 0.5 SG:P and loses 0.5 SG:P if he fails.

SG: Off the Tee (OTT)

SG:OTT analyzes a player’s tee shots in terms of distance and accuracy over the course of a round. A tee shot that lands on the fairway 150 yards from the pin isn’t necessarily better than a shot into the rough 30 yards away.

SG: Approach (APP)

SG:APP analyzes shots into the green on par threes, fours and fives based on distance and conditions from the approach. Proximity to the pin is the key. In our prior example, Jack’s SG:APP score would be better than Nick’s.

SG: Around the Green (ARG)

SG:ARG analyzes shots from within 30 yards of the green edge in fairway, rough and bunkers. It shows the percentage of time a player misses the green in regulation but still makes par or better, otherwise known as scrambling. It’s a good stat to use for courses with small greens.

SG: Tee to Green (T2G)

SG:T2G simply combines the OTT, APP and ARG totals without considering putting.

SG: Ball Striking (BS)

SG:BS analyzes a player’s overall striking based on the OTT and APP totals. It’s a good measure to use in volatile short games.

SG: Total (TOT)

SG:TOT is the total combined number of strokes gained from all categories in the round, equal to the difference in the player’s score from the field average. If the field average is 70.2, a player who shoots 72 has an SG:TOT of -1.8, while a Tiger Woods who shoots 61 would have an SG:TOT of +9.8.

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