What is Strokes Gained and why should you care about it?

Golf is a sport that is steeped in tradition and history. Consequently, many statistics and methods for evaluating player performance haven’t changed in decades. However, in recent years, a better statistic called “Strokes Gained” has emerged as a more comprehensive and accurate way to measure a golfer’s performance.

Strokes Gained is not rocket science, but there are a lot of misconceptions out there as to what it actually does and measures. Next round, ask your playing buddy or foursome to tell you what “Strokes Gained” is. I bet you’ll get a deer-in-headlights look vs. an actual answer. 

So, let’s explore what Strokes Gained is and why you should start tracking yours, and hopefully, we can help shed some light on this popular golf topic.

*Strokes Gained will be a new feature in Golfshot this Spring 2023.

What is Strokes Gained?

Strokes Gained measures a golfer’s performance by comparing their golf shots to the rest of the field. It was developed by Columbia University professor Mark Broadie and was first introduced to the golfing world in 2011 in Broadie’s book, Every Shot Counts. Strokes Gained has made a huge impact on golf and is tracked on the PGA Tour with other stats like driving stats, up and down stats from off the green, strokes saved from bunkers, and putting stats

Brodie’s philosophy has been adopted by the most successful players in the world to analyze every shot rather than just the final score and then compare their performance against the field. This sets a benchmark for each player to measure the performance of each shot set against that benchmark. The goal of Strokes Gained is not to say how good or bad a shot is, but rather to measure how good or bad it is against the benchmark.

Why is Strokes Gained Important to golfers?

Strokes Gained helps us understand how we perform in each aspect of the game. A golf Handicap can indicate how far off of Scratch you are whereas Strokes Gained show you what aspects of your game are holding you back from shooting lower scores. 

The benefits of Strokes Gained are numerous. Firstly, it provides a much more comprehensive measure of a golfer’s performance than traditional statistics such as fairways hit and greens in regulation. These traditional statistics do not take into account the difficulty of the shot, and therefore do not accurately measure a golfer’s skill level. Shots from the sand are more difficult than those from the rough. Shots from the rough can be trickier than shots from the fairway. Strokes Gained takes all of that data into account to understand an individual’s performance compared to the field.

Strokes Gained enables golfers to identify their strengths and weaknesses more accurately. By analyzing their performance in the four core areas of the game, golfers can pinpoint the areas they need to improve. They can focus on those specific aspects of their game – reducing time and frustration at the practice facility while enjoying more success on the golf course.

As golf continues to evolve, Strokes Gained is likely to become an increasingly important part of the game.