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Understanding Strokes Gained
Understanding Strokes Gained
Updated over a week ago

Better Golf through Strokes Gained: Improvement Starts with Roundabout

Turn on any professional golf broadcast and you are bound to hear a mention of golf’s latest buzzword in ‘Strokes Gained’.

Until recently strokes gained information was reserved for PGA Tour pros. Collecting the baseline for golfing performance required hundreds of volunteers at each tournament, using lasers to measure and document every shot location of every pro for what is now known as Shotlink (TM). Today, the same information can be logged for your golf game from your pocket with the Roundabout app as you play golf. But what is ‘Strokes Gained’ and how can it help you improve? In its simplest form, ‘Strokes Gained’ is simply a measure of the quality of a shot vs. a reference.

The simplest example is an 8 foot putt. A PGA Tour pro makes a random 8 foot putt roughly 50% of the time. If they make the putt half of the time and miss the putt half the time, then on average it takes 1.5 strokes to make an 8 foot putt. Therefore, if you 1 putt from 8 feet, you gain 0.5 strokes on a PGA Tour pro. If it takes 2 putts from 8 feet, you lose 0.5 strokes to a PGA Tour pro. The average number of putts it takes to make a 30 foot putt is 2 strokes. Therefore, a one putt gains 1 shot on the field. A two putt gains or loses nothing and a 3 putt loses exactly one shot to the field.

Now with hundreds of shots taken, this same approach can be applied to any individual shot and even to entire holes. For example, it takes a PGA Tour pro an average of 3 shots to get into the hole from 100 yards in the rough. If you do it in 2, you gain a shot. If you do it in 4, you lose a shot. If you take 3 shots from 100 yards in the rough, you played it like the PGA Tour average. So how good is a 100 yard shot from the rough that lands 8 feet from the pin?

The equation is simple:

Average Shots to Hole Out Before the Shot- Average Shots to Hole Out After - 1 Shot Taken = Strokes Gained

Hitting it to 8 ft from 100 yards in the rough would look like this:

3 (Avg from 100y) - 1.5 (Avg 8ft putt) - 1 (shots from you) = +0.5 Strokes Gained

Hitting it to 30ft from 100 yards in the rough would look like this:

3 (Avg from 100y) - 2 (Avg 30ft putt) - 1 (shots from you) = 0 Strokes Gained

Hitting it to 55ft from 98 yards in the rough would look like this (pictured below):

3 (Avg from 98y) - 2.2 (Avg 55ft putt) - 1 (shots from you) = -0.22 Strokes Gained (Lost)

Alright, by this time your head is spinning. Golfers do enough math just adding up their score at the end of the day. Doing hundreds of calculations of strokes gained would be painful. With Roundabout, you don’t have to be a mathematician. Let Roundabout do the heavy lifting while you simply track shots. Roundabout simplifies the data analysis to guide you to the part of your game that needs the most attention in order for you to improve.

Track your shots with the new auto-shot tracking feature, use the Apple Watch, or track from the comfort of your home. However you choose to track shots, Roundabout will do the rest. Each shot will be analyzed for its quality and strokes gained vs the reference of your choice from Tour Pro to 25 handicap for both males and females. Your performance will then be divided into 4 categories:

  1. Driving: Any tee shot from Par 4’s and Par 5’s

  2. Approach: Any shot between > 60 yards that is not a tee shot on a Par 4 or Par 5.

  3. Short: Any shot < 60 yards

  4. Putting: Any shot from the green

By analyzing your strokes gained performance in the above four categories, Roundabout can tell you which areas are weakest and which areas are strengths. As you improve your handicap, it is simple to change your reference and keep improving. Below is data from a single round where you can see the strokes gained performance for the day. This user shot 71 and performed well relative to your average Scratch reference, however they lost 2 strokes Driving. Had they improved their driving performance, they could have had a special day and broken par.

But Roundabout doesn’t stop there. At this point the user knows they played well relative to Scratch golfer, quick math adding all four categories would tell them they gained +4.7 shots on the average scratch player this round, but they don’t yet know what they did poorly with their driving to lose 2.1 strokes. How could they improve their driving? Swiping through the round summary, each part of the round and their game is broken down to give insights on where to improve. Below is the analysis of their driving performance:

This was a ‘Poor Driving Day’. They missed to the left hand side 36% of the time. They did not hit it as far as they typically average (254 yards vs. 259 yards). They had 4 driving errors when they typically average 1.7 per round. A driving error is any time the ball is hit into a penalty or recovery situation. Now the user knows that they struggled with driving and why. They need to work on avoiding the left off the tee and minimize big mistakes such as penalties and recovery shots off the tee. Quick, actionable data that could be taken to the driving range or to a teaching professional to work on the right areas of their golf game.

Roundabout also analyzes what you do well. Continuing to scroll through the round summary, this user will find that they had a ‘Great Putting Day’, missing 0 putts inside 6 feet with only a single 3 putt. They had an ‘Excellent Approach Day’ hitting the green on 87% of their opportunities with no errors.

This type of analysis of every round is critical for golfers to see strengths and weaknesses and to notice trends in their game. If driving is consistently popping up as a weakness with misses to the left, then the golfer can work to understand the root cause. It could be alignment, poor club fitting, over-hooking, etc. Giving this data to a teaching professional would prove invaluable for accelerated improvement. Of course, the data can also be used by the Do-it-yourself (DIY) crowd to self diagnose and work on improving.

Roundabout analyzes your game to give you actionable, simple to understand data, that you can use to focus your practice and get the most out of every swing. The data is aggregated with each round you play and shown to you in easy to understand, interactive plots in the ‘Analyze’ section of the app. Get started tracking shots today using the new auto-shot tracking feature and unlock your potential with Roundabout.

Statistical analysis requires a subscription to our Birdie or Eagle tiers after the first free round. Subscriptions start $6.99 / month or $59.99 / year and include auto-shot tracking. Click here to purchase a subscription.

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