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Making Putts by Score


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studying the percentages...
   Yesterday I went oh-for-seven on birdie putts, and that got me thinking, which is always dangerous.  It seems like I can hole putts for par or worse a lot more often than for birdie.  So I added up the numbers, and wow!

   For the past 10 rounds, I hit 9% of birdie putts, 50% of par putts, and 92% of bogey+ putts.  (!)  Obviously I'm not controlling for distance here, but even still, that's an enormous gap.  Overall I hit 57% of my putts, regardless of score.

   I tried to find out what typical numbers are, but while searching, I found this really interesting article that doesn't seem to have been mentioned here before ( I searched for it, and found nothing ).

"Even the world’s best pros are so consumed with avoiding bogeys that they make putts for birdie discernibly less often than identical-length putts for par, according to a coming paper by two professors at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School."

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/16/sports/golf/16study.html

   So I guess I'm not alone, which is small consolation after missing all seven putts yesterday.
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I know I have a ''' hope I make birdie but I sure want at least a par''' feeling over birdie putts. I've recently been playing a game with several 4 or 5 man teams. We count only the best two scores. If someone on my team has already made birdie or par, I've noticed my birdie putts drop more often but, if I'm the only one with a chance for par, it's a different feeling and I don't make as many. Since playing this game my birdies per round have gone up at least 1 per round so I have to agree with what your saying.

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I read some statistical article saying that Tiger hits more long par putts than long birdie putts, leading the writer to conclude that Tiger's hatrid of bogies inspires and focuses him. In contrast, amateurs were said to be more likely to make a birdie putt because they were inspired to focus on these, given their desirability and the relatively scarce opportunity for a birdie.

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That is an interesting study. However, I think it is missing a very significant element. That is you typically have more accurate information for a par putt than you do a birdie putt. Let's take a 6 foot birdie putt. How did it get to be 6 feet? More often than not it was something like a 150 yard shot. Now, how about a 6 foot par put. It is there more often than not through a chip or a long putt. Hitting a chip or long putt gives you valuable information (I.e., speed and undulation of the green) for your next stroke. That information may not seem like a big deal, but I'd guess it would make up much of the 3% differential between par and birdie putts.

What would be interesting is controling for this type of information. For example, what is the average differential when the shot before the putt came from 100+ yards away or something like that. Then you are dealing more with apples to apples.

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[quote name='OpusX20']That information may not seem like a big deal, but I'd guess it would make up much of the 3% differential between par and birdie putts.[/quote]

I agree, I'm actually surprised the delta for pros is only a few percent. Compared to my 41%, that's some outstanding putting for birdie... although, they do have a significant number of 2nd putts for birdie on par 5s and the occasional short 4.

Also, I like how, according to this study and the sidebar graph, John Daly, of all people, is the 2nd-most rational putter on Tour (!!).

I don't think my stroke differs on birdie putts, though, so I'm not sure why I miss them. I'm consciously focusing on making birds lately, because I think that's where I leave a lot of shots on the table... and they're more fun. I'm still missing those putts, though. Anyone else figure their make percentages?

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[quote name='OpusX20' post='1847328' date='Jul 27 2009, 10:01 PM']...you typically have more accurate information for a par putt than you do a birdie putt. Let's take a 6 foot birdie putt. How did it get to be 6 feet? More often than not it was something like a 150 yard shot. Now, how about a 6 foot par put. It is there more often than not through a chip or a long putt. Hitting a chip or long putt gives you valuable information (I.e., speed and undulation of the green) for your next stroke. That information may not seem like a big deal, but I'd guess it would make up much of the 3% differential between par and birdie putts.[/quote]
Yes, and pros tend to leave an easier uphill putt for par after missing birdie than the sometimes tricky downhill/sidehill putts left from a 180/140 yard approach into the green.

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Oddly enough, I agree with Sawgrass in that my birdie opportunities are much more seldom than my par opportunities, and I want to make the best of them.

Like most hackers, my distances on my short irons are dialed in, but my aim is somewhat erratic. Therefore, I have a hard time hitting GIR, and get relatively few (2-6) birdie opportunities a round, many of these from WAY away from the hole.

One thing missing is the length of the putts. Under 5', I make about 80% of my putts, birdie or par. Between 5' and 20', this drops a fair bit - I'd guess about 50% at 10' and 10% at 20'.

Myself, I find the old sphincter tightening more on Par putts. I go hard at my birds as I don't get them as often as I'd like, and I know as long as I don't put the ball more than 4' past the hole, I should be able to convert par. That same putt for par, I'm staring the Bogeyman in the face, and know that if I choke, his brother will show up. No pressure - right!

However, I'll do some unscientific tracking this week (36 holes scheduled) and let you know how I make out.

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[quote name='Asleep' post='1848324' date='Jul 28 2009, 11:22 AM'][quote name='OpusX20' post='1847328' date='Jul 27 2009, 10:01 PM']...you typically have more accurate information for a par putt than you do a birdie putt. Let's take a 6 foot birdie putt. How did it get to be 6 feet? More often than not it was something like a 150 yard shot. Now, how about a 6 foot par put. It is there more often than not through a chip or a long putt. Hitting a chip or long putt gives you valuable information (I.e., speed and undulation of the green) for your next stroke. That information may not seem like a big deal, but I'd guess it would make up much of the 3% differential between par and birdie putts.[/quote]
Yes, and pros tend to leave an easier uphill putt for par after missing birdie than the sometimes tricky downhill/sidehill putts left from a 180/140 yard approach into the green.
[/quote]

Great point.

[b]Driver:[/b] TaylorMade Tour Issue M3 8.9*, Fujikura Motore Speeder VC 6.2 Tour Spec X
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