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What is Strokes Gained?

Strokes gained - a phrase becoming more and more popular in the golf industry… but what is strokes gained? What does it mean and how can it help improve your golf?

Strokes Gained is a database of averages, where the ability of golfers can be compared against a specific benchmark. In simple terms, strokes gained produces a positive or negative score for every area of the game of golf. Negative numbers highlight areas for improvement, whereas positive numbers indicate the golfer has performed well. This score is always compared to a defined benchmark.

Shot Scope app with strokes gained statistics

Benchmarks

Benchmarks such as PGA Tour are commonly used, whereas amateur related benchmarks such as scratch golfer, 10 or 20 handicap golfer, are less common. Being able to compare against a specific ability level allows golfers to pinpoint their strengths, as well as highlighting the key areas for improvement. When aiming to improve and lower their handicap, golfers can compare against a benchmark lower than their current ability to help set realistic targets and goals.

Shot Scope app Benchmarking

Why use Strokes Gained

With strokes gained, both accuracy and length are taken into consideration (not only of the shot, but the remaining distance to the hole and the hole length) to ensure that each shot has its own unique value. Hitting a tee shot onto the fairway will give you a Fairway in Regulation, but if the shot is still 200 yards away from the hole, do you really know if it had a positive or negative impact on your score on that hole? Would it have been more beneficial to hit Driver, and perhaps end up in the rough but only have 80 yards to the hole? Without strokes gained, understanding the outcome of these shots, and which scenario is more beneficial, would be unknown.

Stokes gained example diagram

Strokes Gained Equation

Strokes gained is worked out by knowing the average number of shots players take to finish the hole from any position on the golf course. This varies depending on the benchmark being used.

To calculate the strokes gained for any shot, there is an equation:

The Strokes Gained Equation

The equation uses the start and end position of the shot to work out a value. Once it has that value, you need to take off the shot that has just been hit, hence the (-1) at the end of the equation.

This equation is used for all shot calculations, whether it is tee shots, approaches, short game or putting. Any shot hit on the golf course is applied to this formula to give it a strokes gained value. Typically these numbers are positive (strokes gained) or negative (strokes lost).

How to use Strokes Gained to improve

Taking a look at an approach play example will help explain how to analyse strokes gained in a constructive way.

In this example, the golfer is losing -1.53 shots on their approach play. But how do you know what area of approach play to work on? Strokes gained breaks down approach play by distance to highlight exactly what the weakness is.

This shows that 100-150 yards shots that are costing this golfer the most on the course. Now that this has been identified, you can use the other Shot Scope statistics, such as approach proximity and green success by club to identify if there are any obvious reasons for this.

Analysing green success by club shows there is inconsistency among short irons, specifically the 9 iron. In this instance, perhaps the golfer lacks confidence with this particular club, or there is the possibility that the loft and lie on this club should be checked to ensure optimal performance.

Strokes Gained on Shot Scope app

Shot Scope Strokes Gained

Systems like Shot Scope, do all the working behind strokes gained and simply present it in a clear and concise way for golfers to use to their advantage. The addition of strokes gained to the analytics platform offered by Shot Scope make it one of the most complete game improvement tools available. Strokes gained uses multiple factors in its workings, which make it one of, if not the best golf analytical tools in the golf industry.

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