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In short, "Strokes Gained" is a value of a golfer's performance compared to the average performance of other golfers.

In 2011, the PGA Tour announced Strokes Gained: Putting.

For example, the average number of putts used to hole out from 7 feet 10 inches is 1.5. If a player one-putts from this distance, he gains 0.5 strokes. If he two-putts, he loses 0.5 strokes. If he three-putts, he loses 1.5 strokes.

In 2014, the PGA Tour announced Strokes Gained: Tee-To-Green. This includes calculations on how to calculate Strokes Gained: Total.

First, a player’s score will be compared to the field’s average to establish a Strokes Gained: Total number. For instance, if a player shoots 68 and the field average is 70, his Total is +2.0. That number, in turn, will equal the combination of Strokes Gained: Putting and Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green. So if the player is +1.2 in Strokes Gained: Putting, his Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green number is +0.8.

According to this statement, the equation is: SGtotal = SGputting + SGtee-to-green. However, SGtee-to-green is derived from SGtotal and SGputting values. Thus, a golfer's SGtee-to-green value is inversely proportional to their SGputting value.

Does "Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green" objectify tee-to-green performance? Is there any correlation between this statistic and the ball striking statistic + scrambling statistic, its individual parts, or other statistics?

Note: The ball striking statistic and the scrambling statistic doesn't compare to the average performance of other golfers, but does objectively capture driving distance, accuracy, greens in regulation, sand saves, and other around the green recoveries.

† - total driving [driving distance + accuracy] + greens in regulation


For example, Lucas Glover is 1st in Ball Striking, 65th in Scrambling, and 45th in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green thus far during the 2016 PGA Tour season.

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  • Do you mean perhaps 'quantifying' rather than 'objectifying'? This would make more sense to me, given the context, at least. – Nij May 10 '16 at 6:36
  • @Nij I see what you're saying, but it does "quantify" in the sense that it is given a value. What I mean by "objectifying" is...is "Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green" based off a set of objective statistics like "Strokes Gained: Putting" or is it a derivative as it appears to be? – user527 May 10 '16 at 12:35
  • Can it not be both? This is based on value for the SG(putt) and SG(tot), which are clearly objective, since the mean and individual scores are. SG(tee-green) is implied from them as it has to be what made up the difference. Have you no way to compare the value calculated to the value obtained by doing a direct comparison (using the same method as for finding SG(putt) but on tee-green score)? – Nij May 10 '16 at 20:10
  • "using the same method as for finding SG(putt) but on tee-green score" is exactly why I asked this question. If there was a "same method," then that would be the "objective" way to measure SG(tee-green), rather than implicating it as the difference from total and putting, as you state. The statistics are there (see Approach The Green -> Accuracy From Fairway). – user527 May 11 '16 at 3:48
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In theory, there is no reason why the definition of SGputting cannot be extended to the entire hole.

So given the definition on the green that

The average number of putts used to hole out from 7 feet 10 inches is 1.5.

and extending this to the entire hole we can (in theory) make similar statements for every location on the hole.

A. The average number of strokes needed from the Tee is 4.91

B. The average number of strokes needed from the centre of the fairway, 180 yards from the hole, is 3.04

C. The average number of strokes needed from the front end of the greenside bunker is 2.62

Let us ignore any practical difficulties in finding these values, and create a course where the average strokes remaining value appears by magic next to your ball after each shot - like this

Par 5 golf course

The players tee up, and note from their magic display that it's a perfect par 5. The player with the black ball plays as follows

  1. Drive down the fairway, accurate but not that far. Still 4 strokes needed, SG = 0
  2. Again on the fairway, but a long approach remains, still 3 strokes needed SG = 0
  3. Great approach, to within 8 feet. Only 1.5 strokes needed SG = 0.5

The player with the red ball plays as follows

  1. Long drive into the rough. Still 4.5 strokes needed. SG = -0.5
  2. Good escape, but lands in the bunker. 3.5 strokes needed. SG = 0
  3. Amazing bunker shot, to within 8 feet. Now only 1.5 strokes needed. SG = 1

So in total both players have gained 0.5 shots from tee to green.

So we could make a definition that SGtee-to-green is

the sum of strokes gained for the tee shot and all approach shots.

From this definition it should be clear that this statistic will be positively correlated with driving accuracy, driving distance, accuracy and distance from sand, accuracy and distance from the rough etc.

Returning to reality, there may be serious practical difficulties in finding out these average strokes remaining for large parts of the course, much of which is rarely played by the pro's, and the value would wildly vary in the chaotic world of deep rough and bunkers. So I wouldn't expect to see a reliable SG for each individual stroke any time soon, especially considering winds and changing pin positions.

But everyone starts at the tee, and most end up putting from the green, so statistics from putting from 7ft 10in are available. For this reason it makes sense to just take the tee and green values, and calculate the rest as the difference.

By doing this we lose the information of what happened between tee and green. Was it good accuracy and approach play (Black) or a great sand escape (Red), or something else. But objectively, compared to the average player1, a player with a positive SGtee-to-green did something pretty good between tee and green.

1 Note that SGputting is also a comparison with the average player.

  • +1. This is really good conjecture that summarizes my thought process in asking this question. If Lucas Glover is the "best" from tee-to-green, why is his strokes gained tee-to-green not reflect that? It could be that the average calculation is a factor, his scrambling isn't that great (at 65th), or both. Without anything "official," this is a fine analysis as to why it isn't practical to consider all stats, and that taking the difference of SG(total) and SG(putting) to find SG(tee-to-green) is more of an implication than an objectification (and that's an adequate way to collect such). – user527 May 13 '16 at 3:51
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Find the average tee-to-green score, then subtract the player's tee-to-green score, and that's the negative of SG(tee-green). Is this the same as the value given by the equation? If so, there's no problem. If not, then that's your answer. No?

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