Stats in golf (in the wild)

Within the past few years I’ve started golfing fairly regulary. Last year, a few friends of mine and myself, started tracking our progress on Oobgolf. We enter out scores, and they automatically track our handicaps. (I’m a 20.4 by the way).

Anyway, at the end of the season, we had a big single elimination tournament with our handicaps. At some point during the tournament we got to talking about how two people could have the same handicap and be entirely different players.

Here is an extreme example:
Handicap is calculated using the best 10 scores from your last 20 rounds. Golfer one could play 20 rounds and shoot 90 in all of them. Golfer two could shoot 90 ten times and then 110 the other ten times. Both these golfers would have the same handicap, but if you were going to play for money (or in our big end of the season tournament) you’d rather play golfer two, even thought golfer one and golfer two have the same handicap.

We had a brief discussion about how you could quantify this disparity. Apparently, however, some other people have thought a lot harder about this.

This article in Chance from 2001 discusses how a “Steady Eddie” has an advantage over a “Wild Willie”. (The chance article uses order statistics so you might want to check out this link for a brief description.)

Then this article proposes a measure called Anti-Handicap which mesaures your worst ten scores in your last twenty rounds. By comparing a golfers handicap and anti-handicap, some measure of variability in a golfers game can be assessed. As before in our extreme example, gofler one would have a handicap of 18 and an anti-handicap of 18. However, golfer two would have a handicap of 18, but an anti-handicap of 38.


Posted on December 20, 2008, in Sports. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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