And if Freddie had been... a new study of the influence of driving and putting on PGA Tour performances

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In recent years, many experts in the economic analysis of golf have been interested in the skills/earnings relationship with regard to the PGA Tour. In most cases, their results are similar: putting is a determining aspect of the game with regard to winning. Despite these results, many experts still put the emphasis on driving distance. Accordingly, to address this issue from a different angle, we chose to proceed in two stages. As a first step, we established the results of Fred Couples, if he had been a good putter throughout his career (the counterfactual hypothesis). This first analysis confirms most of the results obtained in other research on this topic. It also shows the need to distinguish different types of putts influencing results (scores) and earnings (rankings on money list) on the PGA Tour. As a second step, we built a series of models, based on our results, which assessed more precisely the influence of different types of putts on PGA Tour earnings. Our conclusion: to achieve superior performance on the PGA Tour it is better to belong to the category of “money putters”. In other words, avoid failures on short putts and sink a significant percentage of putts over 25 feet.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2011

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