Category Archives: golf humor

The New Golf Stats/The Secret to Golf

Do you think that fairways hit, greens in regulation (GIR), number of putts, etc, are important stats to keep? Many golfers do, and I hear teaching pros say their students should keep track of them. There has always been this gnawing feeling that they don’t really tell us what we want to know about why we shoot the scores we shoot, and the only reason we use them is that they’re easy to count.

Enter the statisticians, the real statisticians who work at the university level, and who use analytical procedures that would make your head spin. They’re going straight to the heart of golf, and their works is starting to emerge into the mainstream.

A few weeks ago, the PGA started posting a new putting statistic, Strokes Gained–Putting. This is the brainchild of Mark Broadie, of Columbia University. It compares the putting of a particular player with the putting of the field overall. It was mentioned during the Wells Fargo Championship on May 8, that eventual winner Lucas Glover had gained 8 strokes on the field on the greens, per this new stat.

You could say his putts per GIR were low, or his total putts were low, but SG-P tells you directly what the effect of his week with a hot putter was.

Broadie’s description of the new stat is posted here.

There are several other reports I would like to call your attention to. One by Devin Pope and Maurice Schweitzer concludes that the pros are more likely to leave birdie putts short than par putts of the same length, showing that they are loss averse, that is, the risk for them of making a bogey outweighs the gain of making a birdie.

Another study, also by Broadie, shows that where Tiger Woods has (or had) his advantage over the field is not on the green, but from the fairway. In 2003-10, Woods had a 3.20-stroke margin on the field, but 2.08 strokes of that came from his long game, mainly his iron play, and only 0.70 shots per round from his putting, and 0.42 shots from his short game. Read it here. Tiger himself has said that his irons are his offensive weapons.

Hopefully, these new stats and ways of analyzing golf will trickle down to recreational golfers. But even if they do, they will only tell us that our irons need work, not how to work on our irons.
This video, a mock infomercial, has been making the rounds lately. It’s John O’Hurley’s The Secret to Golf, and it’s pretty darn funny. When you watch it, pay attention to the guy in the bunker in the background.

My new book, The Golfing Self, is now available at It will change everything about the way you play.

Insane distance from the tee

Several weeks ago I wrote in this space about not getting lured in by golf magazines that promise you more distance if you just follow their recycled tip. Two weeks later, I still believe that.

But if you have something to say on the subject, I’ll listen.

So the day before yesterday I was in our local library looking over the magazines people leave to be taken, free. I always look for golf magazines, of course. There was only one and I picked it up and read the banner across the top of the cover. “217 ways to add 15 yards,” it averred.

Doing some quick math, I figured that if there were 217 tips and I did all of them I could hit the ball 3,255 yards. That means if I can get the up and down (don’t expect to hit the green from that distance) I could play the front nine in 3.

Once I thought if I followed every mileage tip I could find that said I could raise my mileage by 2-3 mpg I’d get about 78 mpg. Didn’t work out, though.

Do you ever see the articles that say, “Add fifty yards to your drives”? Read the tip. The only way you could get fifty more yards by doing that is if you only hit your driver 125 to begin with.

Well, with 217 ways to add 15 yards, I figured at least one of them would resonate. The problem was that I couldn’t find them. I studied every page of the magazine, including the ad for a sleeping compound with the full page of fine print on the back warning you that one of the side effects of taking a sleeping medication is drowsiness. Really. It said that.

I did find four distance tips, though. They were on a two-page spread saying that if you sped up your swing you would hit the ball farther. Made sense. And there are four ways to do that. Good start, but I never could find the next 213.

Maybe you take those four tips to the range and hit fifty-three balls with each one, and use the 213th ball to celebrate finding the method that works best.

I don’t know. Maybe they just wanted me to buy the magazine. Do you think?


The Best Golf Swing Lesson I Ever Had

I have a list that I look at before I go golfing. It’s a list of things I need to take to the course. I put the list together because on different occasions I have forgotten, at least once, most of the items on it.

For example, one item is “14 clubs.” I left my putter at home once. Took it out of the bag to practice with and forgot to put it back in. I’ve left my sand wedge home. Same reason. Forgot a towel once. It’s pretty hard to hit a decent shot with dirt all over the clubface. Forgot my golf shoes several times. That wasn’t too critical, I got by with it. After a while I stopped looking at the list because I thought I had it all down. Big mistake.

I’ve been playing golf lately with my wife and sons on alternate Sundays. We go to an 18-hole executive course, bat the ball around, and have a great time together. My wife drives, I take a nap along the way, and we meet our boys there.

When we arrived at the course the last time we played, I got out of the car and walked back to the trunk to get my golf shoes. As I did, this terrible feeling came over me that I had left them at home. Sure enough, they weren’t there. The reason that I had a terrible feeling, and not just a feeling, is that the shoes I had on weren’t really shoes.

They were a pair of moccasins.

That would be OK, I thought. I could walk around the course if we didn’t go too fast. You see, I got the moccasins on sale and they were a size too big, so I can’t walk fast in them without walking right out of them. But I could manage.

So we all teed off on the first hole, which is on a hill about a hundred feet above the green. We walked down a gravel path to the ground below, and it hit me. It had been raining lately, and the ground was soaking wet. Not only that, it was early in the day and the grass was covered with dew.

I just thought if I walked carefully, my moccasins wouldn’t get too wet. Silly me.

By the eighth hole my socks were soaked through and by the twelfth the moccasins were entirely soaked. It was not comfortable. Did I mention it was less than 50 degrees out and my feet were kind of cold?

But in the midst of this travail, I found the cloud with the silver lining. Since I had no spikes on and was supported by wet socks inside wet shoes that were too big, and the ground was wet and slick, I couldn’t take my usual swipe at the ball. I had to swing . . . easy. Of course I had to, or I would have fallen down.

And you know what? Out of eighteen full swings I took that day, there were seventeen beautiful shots and one, just one, clinker. Seventeen shots that took off straight, high and with authority. Shots I might hit half the time on a good day, I was hitting every time. I had not hit the ball that well all year. All because of the easy swing which I had no choice but to make.

After the round I bought a new pair of socks from the pro shop and had a pleasant ride home with my feet jammed up against the heater vent. When we got home I put the moccasins out to dry. Mistake #2.

Wet leather shrinks when it dries out. I had forgotten this. I should have put some shoe trees in them. By Wednesday the moccasins were completely dry and one size smaller. But that’s OK, because remember how they were too big? Now they fit just right.

Somehow, even after pulling two real boners, I came out smelling like a rose. Just goes to show you. Someone up there must love me. Even so, I’m back to checking the list before I leave for the course.

The Fates forgive honest mistakes, but they don’t suffer fools, especially ones who don’t learn from the best golf swing lesson they ever had.

My new book, The Golfing Self, is now available at It will change everything about the way you play.