October 11, 2011

The PGA Tour’s Newest Stat

Professor Mark Broadie has developed a new methodology for analyzing putting performance.

In May, for the first time in 15 years, the PGA Tour introduced a new methodology for analyzing putting performance. The stat, Strokes-Gained Putting, was initially developed by Mark Broadie, the Carson Family Professor of Business in the Decision, Risk, and Operations Division.

How is Strokes-Gained Putting different from previous PGA stats?

It is a more accurate measure of putting skill because it takes into account the distance each putt starts from the hole. The number of putts taken is compared to the average of other PGA tour golfers from that distance and the result shows the number of putts gained or lost relative to the PGA tour field.

The PGA Tour is now using Strokes-Gained Putting as their primary measure of putting ability on their website and in TV broadcasts. I hope that it helps amateur golfers think about putting a little better than before.

How does the putting stat relate to your research on risk management and portfolio optimization?

The same tools that are used to analyze financial markets are also useful for analyzing the game of golf. For example, to determine if a portfolio manager has superior skill, we measure returns relative to a benchmark with a comparable risk profile.

Similarly, we measure putting by comparing results to the average of all PGA tour putters taking into account putt distances. Performance attribution analysis is important in finance and in golf: we’d like to know what skills account for superior returns or scores.

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