Quality Strokes Gained: Looking at Strokes Gained Total by accounting for strength of field
Fantasy Golf & Golf Betting Forebucks

Quality Strokes Gained: Looking at Strokes Gained Total by accounting for strength of field

The leaderboard at No. 6 at Augusta National Golf Club.

Strokes Gained is a concept that has dramatically changed how golf fans, prognosticators, punters and fantasy players understand the game.

The work Mark Broadie did with the PGA Tour to create the original Strokes Gained and Strokes Gained Putting, then further breaking out into Strokes Gained figures from Off the Tee, On the Approach and Around the Green, was genius.

While Strokes Gained gives us a tremendously better understanding of how PGA Tour and European Tour players gain their edge against their top-tier peers, Strokes Gained Total does not account for field strength. Strokes Gained Total tells us how well players are doing in a single tournament against how the course is playing, as Strokes Gained Total is a tally of the strokes players gain against the course average during a tournament.

We can, as of June 2016, also calculate Strokes Gained Total as an addition problem of Strokes Gained Putting + Strokes Gained Off the Tee + Strokes Gained Approach + Strokes Gained Around the Green. They're the same.

However, gaining strokes on a weak field is different than gaining strokes on a deeper field. If we want to compare the performance of players across their schedules and the competition they face week to week, then we need to include field strength in Strokes Gained Total.

(The component pieces shouldn't account for field strength separately because each golfer gets to their Strokes Gained Total in different ways, but you could conceivably do it for each component.)

We've seen others try to account for field strength in their modeling, and we think it's key to have it broken out as its own statistic. So, we offer Quality Strokes Gained. Quality Strokes Gained begins with Strokes Gained Total and multiplies that by a figure derived from each individual tournament's first-place points from the Official World Golf Ranking.

The Official World Golf Ranking offers up to 100 points for first-place finishers in majors on down, and it depends on the number of top-200 players in the world that week in a particular field.

To get our Quality Strokes Gained multiple, we take the first-place points for each event and divide them by 50.

For example, the PGA Championship (the only major which offers Strokes Gained data) winner gets 100 OWGR points. Divided that by 50, and that means each player's Strokes Gained Total in the field are multiplied by 2.

Conversely, if a PGA Tour event offers 50 OWGR points to first place, then the Strokes Gained Total are multiplied by 1.

If a PGA Tour event offers 40 OWGR points to first place, then the Strokes Gained Total are multiplied by 0.8.

By way of giving examples, here's a look at the Quality Strokes Gained of last season's PGA Tour winners (where Strokes Gained data is tabulated).

Click header to sort

Thomas, Justin PGA Championship 16.365 100 2 32.730
Matsuyama, Hideki WGC Bridgestone 17.987 76 1.52 27.340
Johnson, Dustin The Northern Trust 16.972 74 1.48 25.119
Kim, Si Woo The Players 15.644 80 1.6 25.030
Leishman, Marc BMW Championship 15.463 72 1.44 22.267
Johnson, Dustin Genesis Open 16.497 66 1.32 21.776
Johnson, Dustin WGC Mexico 14.198 76 1.52 21.581
Dufner, Jason Memorial 16.165 66 1.32 21.338
Thomas, Justin Sony Open 20.238 50 1 20.238
Henley, Russell Houston Open 19.697 50 1 19.697
Leishman, Marc Arnold Palmer Invitational 14.22 62 1.24 17.633
Fowler, Rickie The Honda Classic 14.4 54 1.08 15.552
Hadwin, Adam Valspar Championship 16.013 48 0.96 15.372
Matsuyama, Hideki Waste Management Phoenix Open 13.267 56 1.12 14.859
Horschel, Billy Byron Nelson 14.473 50 1 14.473
Kisner, Kevin Colonial 13.96 50 1 13.960
Harman, Brian Wells Fargo Championship 12.783 50 1 12.783
Spieth, Jordan Travelers Championship 12.279 52 1.04 12.770
Chappell, Kevin Valero Texas Open 16.326 38 0.76 12.408
Rahm, Jon Farmers Insurance Open 11.002 54 1.08 11.882
Stenson, Henrik Wyndham Championship 17.349 34 0.68 11.797
Thomas, Justin Tournament of Champions 11.501 50 1 11.501
Schauffele, Xander Tour Championship 9.533 60 1.2 11.440
Bryan, Wesley RBC Heritage 11.813 48 0.96 11.340
Vegas, Jhonattan RBC Canadian Open 14.229 38 0.76 10.814
Stanley, Kyle National 12.475 42 0.84 10.479
Pampling, Rod Shriners Open 14.317 36 0.72 10.308
Steele, Brendan Safeway Open 12.745 38 0.76 9.686
Berger, Daniel FedEx St. Jude Classic 12.56 38 0.76 9.546
Schauffele, Xander The Greenbrier Classic 13.213 34 0.68 8.985
Gribble, Cody Sanderson Farms Championship 16.372 24 0.48 7.859
DeChambeau, Bryson John Deere Classic 12.083 30 0.6 7.250
Spieth, Jordan AT&T Pebble Beach 6.486 52 1.04 6.745
Murray, Grayson Barbasol Championship 13.549 24 0.48 6.504
Hughes, Mackenzie RSM Classic 9.551 32 0.64 6.113
Swafford, Hudson CareerBuilder Challenge 5.895 42 0.84 4.952

We'll continue working with Quality Strokes Gained and try to give an idea of how players' schedules impact their Strokes Gained.

About the author


Ryan Ballengee

Ryan Ballengee is founder and editor of Golf News Net. He has been writing and broadcasting about golf for over a decade, working for NBC Sports, Golf Channel, Yahoo Sports and SB Nation. Ballengee lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his family. He used to be a good golfer.

Ballengee can be reached by email at ryan[at]thegolfnewsnet.com

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