Fantasy golf gamers rejoice! The PGA Tour has somewhat quietly launched an improved and expanded version of the strokes gained statistic.
Until recently, the Tour published two strokes gained figures: strokes gained putting and strokes gained tee-to-green.
Strokes gained putting was, and remains, a comparison measure. It compares how a player performs on a putt from a particular distance to how many strokes it takes the average PGA Tour player to hole out.
However, until this update, the strokes gained tee to green statistic rang a little hollow. It was more of a math problem, first comparing a player's score in a round to the field scoring average. The differential determined total strokes gained, and subtracting strokes gained putting out left strokes gained tee-to-green. That's no longer the case.
The Tour now publishes a strokes gained tee-to-green stat that is the sum of more specific strokes gained figures: strokes gained off the tee, strokes gained approach and strokes gained around the green (chipping, pitching and sand shots).
Let's break down the new stats:
- Strokes gained off the tee includes all tee shots on par 4s and 5s.
- Strokes gained appoach measures the tee shot on par 3s and the first shot following a tee shot on par 4s and 5s.
- Strokes gained around the green measures any shot (not on the green) from within 30 yards of the edge of the green.
Now this stat packs real meaning.
When looking at strokes gained tee-to-green, the total figure is and always should have been considered a baseline for performance. The season-long tally tells the best players up until putting -- the ballstrikers of note. However, the previous version of the stat didn't delve into why or how players were good ballstrikers. We had to use intuition to tell us where a player gained ground with their talents. We don't have to do that anymore, which is helpful for fantasy gamers to take the next step in their analysis.
Now, gamers can line up the strokes gained subcategories and use them in conjunction with an analysis of how that week's course plays. After all, not ever course demands the same things most of players. Some demand a great driving game, complete with length and accuracy. Some require imagination with the approach shots. Some are so hard that saving strokes around the greens is key. We no longer have to guess which players, across courses and through the season, have those abilities.