Player Stats: Another Edge or Just Using Up the Mind’s Bandwidth?

I came across a very interesting article at Golf.com that talked about all the new golf stat whizzes who have joined the coteries of some PGA Tour players. Written by Josh Sens, “In golf’s answer to Moneyball, a new breed of numbers-crunchers are changing the game,” we learn that a cottage industry has sprung up around crystal ball analysis of ShotLink players’ stats that are collected each week on the PGA Tour.

From the 10 million shots that have been recorded since the system was fully implemented in 2003, stat wonks pore over the data to unearth truths — or perhaps “trends” would be better — that help their players to refine their approach to the game.

Some of it seems intuitive, but others seem almost to have been divined. And hence the value that the players put on those results and the people who produce them. It’s like a veil has been lifted and the fog has cleared.

Brandt Snedeker finished 3rd in the 2012 British Open as a result of a English math whiz who convinced him that he didn’t need to be so precise with his approach shots to the green. Snedeker went with the flow and is now a believer.

But I wonder if this really is another edge to exploit — data mining — or is it something that could clutter the mind of of players operating on the edge of conscious; you know, seeing a target, seeing a shot to that target and then, holding it in your mind, hitting that shot? I suppose there is the “walk and chew gum at the same time” theory that holds for such a possibility.

But I also know how obsessive I became every time I came across a “secret” like this. I was always attracted to devising methodologies that could uncover them. There is something positively narcotic about believing that you have come across knowledge or understanding that nobody else knows. It’s why I so enjoyed mathematical optimization models in business school.

Anyway, as a trend at the edge of the edge of the PGA Tour, the article is an important revelation on what’s going on out there. You can click here or the link in the article title to read it. It’s good.

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