Unraveling The Strokes Gained Mystery

A year ago at the Valspar Championship, Dustin Johnson had just finished his pre-tournament news conference when a media member asked him if he could guess each of his Strokes Gained season rankings without looking at the writer’s computer.

Johnson, who wouldn’t be anyone’s first pick as a golf data nerd, already knew where he stood. In the span of no more than a minute, he spit out a handful of numbers that nearly matched his rankings on PGATour.com perfectly, taking particular pride in his putting marks being within the top 25 players at the time.

He isn’t alone in understanding the value of Strokes Gained. The term has become ubiquitous in the golf lexicon, the primary tool for evaluating the best players in the world. Where proximity to the hole, scrambling percentages and greens in regulation once ruled, strokes gained now dominates every relevant category of statistic in the game.

Players gear their offseason evaluations around it. Swing coaches can get fired because of what it exposes.
If the field average during a ro…


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