New edition of #MathMondays is up. Quick look at the playoff putting numbers from Sony before a deep dive into the heater @webbsimpson1 is on and why he is in elite company and due to break thru for a win soon. pic.twitter.com/ge6MdBeSnN
— Will Haskett (@willhaskett) January 13, 2020
What makes a golfer great? We answer that question historically by looking at win totals, majors won and – depending on the player – reputation.
But with so many tools at our disposal now with Shotlink data, we can now show how great a player is in a tournament, a stretch, a season or even a career. The flood of information since 2004 has changed how we measure that success.
Last year, Rory McIlroy had one of the greatest statistical seasons in PGA Tour (modern) history. He knew it, and was proud of his +2.551 Strokes Gained: Total final mark. It was one of the best seasons of the past 15 years, and only Tiger Woods really showed as much dominance.
Hey Will, what does that number mean?!
Simple answer: Over the course of an entire season, Rory McIlroy was 2.551 strokes better than the average PGA Tour golfer. So, if the average player shoots 71 on a Friday, Rory fired 68.5, on average.
I’ve come to appreciate that +2 SG: Total number as the characteristic of a GREAT (not good) player. If you can hit that number over a significant stretch of golf, you are doing everything really well. Which leads to Webb Simpson…
There may not be a player in the world right now playing as much under-appreciated golf as Simpson. Go back to the middle of April last year, the week after the Masters. Start then and look at 16 tournaments that Simpson has played since. That is a fair sample size. [Tiger Woods played an average of only 18 tournaments in 2006-2007]
Simpson’s Strokes Gained: Total in that span since the 2019 Masters = +2.23
Webb Simpson is a top 5 player in the world right now
But Will, he hasn’t won
You’re right. A lot of top 3’s, but no W to show for it. Should we expect a win soon? History says, ‘YES.’
Since 2004, there have been 12 golfers achieve that magical +2 or greater number, on 24 occasions. Here is the list, with the number of total wins achieved in each season:
2019 – Rory McIlroy (won 4 times)
2018 – Dustin Johnson (won 3 times)
2017 – NONE
2016 – Jason Day (won 3 times)
2015 – Day, Jordan Spieth, Henrik Stenson and Bubba Watson (12 total wins)
2014 – McIlroy (won 4 times)
2013 – Steve Stricker and Tiger Woods in 2013 (5 total wins)
2012 – McIlroy and Woods (8 total wins)
2011 – Luke Donald (won 4 times)
2010 – NONE
2009 – Woods (won 7 times)
2008 – Woods (won 3 times)*
2007 – Woods (won 7 times)
2006 – Donald, Jim Furyk, Adam Scott and Woods (15 total wins)
2005 – Vijay Singh and Woods (11 total wins)
2004 – Singh and Woods (11 total wins)
*Season cut short by knee surgery
That is 97 wins from players in the +2 Club, or just over 4 wins per player on average. Of those 24 occurrences, only two players did not win. Here are their resumes in more detail:
Henrik Stenson in 2015: 24/25 made cuts, 6 runner-up finishes, 11 top 10’s
Steve Stricker in 2013: Semi-retired, 14/14 cuts made, 4 runner-ups, 8 top 10’s (57%)
So, in reality, Stenson’s wild ride in 2015 (he would win a major in 2016) is the only season at that statistical height that doesn’t have a win in it. While Simpson’s current pace overlaps two years, the odds would indicate he will win sometime in his next half dozen starts.
— Will Haskett (@willhaskett) January 6, 2020
Holy blog-less existence, Batman! This site was never intended to be a click grabber. It was an island in the web’s abyss where my name, likeness and work could be housed and interested parties directed in case there was a need for a hack like me. Why? Because that is the way the old guard did it. Rather than a box of VHS tapes, a few pages on a site with YouTube clips should do it.
Wanna know a secret? I’ve never received a job because somebody stumbled upon my work on here. That’s okay. Ninety-nine percent of the work I have earned in my life has been through networking, connections and word-of-mouth. This business is as much right place/time/people as anything in this world.
Except when it isn’t.
While I still hold on to that outdated dream of rising the broadcasting ranks through the old boys’ club of promotion, the modern media world is about making your own magic, producing your own #content and building your own #brand.
I love numbers and stats. It’s not all of my toolbox, but a majority of it. I believe in emotion triumphing paper, karma and Gods, Alphas and so much more. But, while still keeping one watchful eye on the boys’ club above, forging a path in numbers and stats is a safe way to build one’s brand.
Having said all of that – and thanks for still reading – I am grateful for the thousands who have helped grow the audience of my podcast. With a weekly commitment, the conversations will continue to be lively, only now I’ve added some predictions and number crunching for the gambling community as well. Bet at your own risk.
I want to use this site to archive the work/research I have done, so it doesn’t get lost. For example…
With his T2 at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, Xander Schauffele continued an amazing trend of big finishes in big field events. Since winning the 2017 Tour Championship, Schauffele has played in 27 such tournaments (Majors, WGCs, Players, Tour Championship, ToC and Hero World Challenge), and his results are staggering:
27 finishes in order: 1, T46, T22, T18, T17, T50, T2, T6, T2, 68, T35, T7, 1, T8, 1, T14, MC, T24, T2, T16, T3, T41, T27, 2, 2, T10, T2
– Has 9 top 2’s (33%)
[For Reference: Tiger Woods’ career top 2 percentage is 32%]
– Has 14 top 10’s (52%)
– Has 18 top 20’s (67%)
Now for the fun… In his 30 other (regular event) starts, he has 1 other top 2 (3%), 6 top 10s (20%). Wrap your head around that.
Okay, that felt good. Maybe I will try more next week!
When I set out to muddy the golf podcast waters a little bit more last year, I wanted my stain to be just a little different from all the rest. Why create something that is merely a cheap facsimile of what is already out there?! As many are well aware, while I am a stats/numbers fan, I am certainly not an expert. But that aspect of the game of golf seemed to be underserved a bit in the podcast space.
So, even though The Perfect Number Podcast dives into other geeky areas, the stats/analytics angle has been the most concentrated effort. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that one loyal listener used the first season as his inspiration to dive into the golf analytics world and start crunching his own data from PGA Tour stats.
I had no idea this little podcast could influence, but if it helps provide a central ground for a passionate base of golf fans and media, giddy up!
Thanks, Lou Stagner!
I don’t blog enough. That’s an obvious statement based on the sporadic nature of content on this site, which is, ironically, the root of the problem discussed below.
Earlier this year, I launched a podcast. If you’re one of the five people reading this blog, you probably know this. What you may not know is why I started it. The Perfect Number Podcast has become a place for stats and analytics professionals in golf to collaborate, learn and listen. It, I think, filled a tiny void in a massive world of golf podcast #content. Here’s the thing: I don’t know if I was the right voice for it.
I love stats, and I love numbers, but I am not an analyst. I don’t know how to create formulas or build decks. I am a simply a broadcaster with questions.
I created my podcast not to fill a void in golf, but in my professional life. I missed having an audience on a platform of my control. While I love calling games or tournaments, I really developed a love for the talk and conversation of radio. Without a regular show, a podcast made the most sense. But, with so many great ones out there, I didn’t want to reinvent the wheel. Hence, a podcast of something I was curious about.
Here’s the dilemma…
As I have studied the modest growth of the Perfect Number’s brand this past year, I analyzed the rise of so many others. What separates most of the best voices out there is autonomy – the power to independently create and speak. That is where sports media is splintered.
Governing bodies, conferences and leagues control the content you see and hear on television and radio. You can’t blame them. With the money on the line and various brands to protect, live event broadcasts are more controlled by those playing than ever before. Critical thought about those events now must take place outside of the “safe zone” that is the broadcast.
How do you straddle that line if you want to work on both sides? That’s the professional question I ask myself every day. It’s more complicated than writing “tweets are my own” in a bio.
When I was 13, I said I wanted to call sports for a living. Nothing about that has changed. It’s what I do for a living. What the past decade has given me is an additional love for wanting to talk about sports on a more critical level. What 2018 has given me is the start of a marriage of both, I hope.
The Perfect Number Podcast is safe because it has to be for me. I want the niche to expand and unite an audience, like me, who embraces the intersection of statistical analysis and sport. To everybody who helped the podcast grow in 2018, thank you! It’s just the beginning.
For those who have been a part of helping The Perfect Number Podcast grow, thank you! May was the best month by far (equaling the downloads from the previous three months combined). Look for a lot more in the coming weeks, including a fantasy preview of this week’s U.S. Open, which is up now with Rob Bolton…
Yes, I have failed in blogging for every podcast, but this one is the reason I launched the podcast. I find the endless amount of data to be fascinating in the sport. Who is the best putter? We have a zillion data sets to try and answer this question. Which stat correlates most with success? (Answer: Strokes Gained Approach)
Players are starting to really capitalize on the value of those stats. Some companies, like the 15th Club, are on the front lines in terms of analyzing those numbers to maximize player performance. Jake Nichols is the Director of Golf Intelligence and joined the podcast to break it all down:
- Which stat is most useful
- How players use and consume the data
- Outlying performances in history
- What is the margin between great and good
I hope you find the chat to be as fascinating as I did…
In 2014, I said I would always pick Bubba Watson to win the Masters if he showed solid form leading up to the tournament. After Jordan Spieth won in 2015, I said he would win so many green jackets that you’d be a fool not to pick him every year.
I am picking Justin Rose to win the Masters in 2018.
Yes, that is a hypocritical choice given my historical “absolutes.” And guess what? I can make an argument for Phil Mickelson to win. I can give you the stats to sell a pathway for Rickie Fowler to Butler Cabin. Rory McIlroy is damn good. And there’s Tiger.
This is the busiest week of the year in golf for a million different reasons, and like most of you, I am gambling… with friends, with colleagues and with perfect strangers. What is my strategy? Which players are sleeper picks? Who should you shy away from? Set your betting strategy with this episode, featuring fantasy golf writer Mike Glasscott.
I don’t think anybody would be surprised to hear that the professional game of golf is rapidly changing. It is bigger, faster, more athletic, stronger, more precise and a much bigger business. While many in the game blame the ball, it’s really much more than that.
Paul Stankowski won twice on the PGA Tour, in 1996 and 1997. That was also the beginning of the Tiger Woods era. Stanko joins the podcast to talk about how that changed the game, how different it is today, and how differently it has made him look at his own game.
We discuss the most important piece of golf technology, the rise of fitness and how a new generation of golfers tackle trying to win. And, please stick around for our tongue-in-cheek solution to golf’s distance “problem.”
This was a tough one to approach because of how embedded in the golf “media” I am and not wanting to be too much of a homer or critic.
I don’t think there is a sport that struggles with how to appeal to a wide range of audiences quite like golf. That isn’t a criticism of the golf media landscape, but a statement of the reality that those who enjoy and interact with the game are both young, old, affluent and not, sometimes in equal proportions.
To discuss how the game is covered and the challenges within, D.J. Piehowski joins the podcast to share his experience. Now a content creator for both No Laying Up and the Golfer’s Journal, his past with the PGA Tour makes him uniquely qualified.
- Which player is the best at providing access?
- How should TV improve its visual product?
- Do TV ratings matter?
- Which player is the most important to the game’s future success?
- How do you balance edginess and not burning access?
Confession: I love TopGolf. I love that it’s fun. I love that it’s inclusive. I love that it is golf. I grew up with my parents taking me to the bowling alley on Friday nights because they were playing in a league with friends. Because it was their social/competitive outlet, it became a bit of a passion for me. (Confession #2: I once owned my own ball and shoes)
My interest in bowling even had me watch it on TV each weekend.
TopGolf is the modern version of the bowling alley. Anybody can do it, and you don’t even need to play golf. You can eat and drink while doing it. Etc. Etc.
But, TopGolf hasn’t stopped at the consumer, entertainment experience. In fact, the corporate philosophy has shifted as the consumer experience has led more people to playing traditional golf. With the acquisition of TopTracer, TopGolf is now a part of live golf on TV and, now, the technology is branching into traditional driving ranges and clubs around the country.
There is a lot on the horizon and plenty to learn about how quickly the popularity of TopGolf (and its products) has taken hold.
This episode features Ani Mehta, VP of Corporate Development for TopGolf, and discusses TopGolf’s role in growing the sport, technological improvements, early rollout successes and corporate responsibility.
Please pass it along to your friends who love the experience!