Does Quantity Impact Quality?

Lou Stagner's Newsletter #18

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How Much Does Quantity Impact Quality?

I recently injured my ankle and was chatting with a friend about how rusty my game will be once I am able to play again.

That got me wondering how much your performance will be impacted by how much (or little) you are playing in a given month. I also wondered how players would perform based on how many days it has been since their most recent round.

So off to the Arccos Golf database we go! We are creeping up on nearly 750 million total shots. (discount code DATALOU15 will save you 15%).

For each round a golfer played, I calculated their median scoring differential for their prior 20 rounds. I compared that 20 round median differential to the differential of the current round.

In the "current" round, did they play better or worse than their "typical" round?

For example, in your 21st round of the year, was the scoring differential in that round better or worse than the median differential from rounds 1 to 20?

I assumed the more often you play, the more likely you will be trending in a positive direction (playing better). I am guessing we all assumed that. It seems pretty obvious.

Golf is a tough game to play well if you are hardly playing (unless you are Bruce Lietzke - RIP, he was one of my favs).

But there was something that popped up in the data that REALLY surprised me. I was a bit shocked to be honest.

First let's take a look at the chances of beating the median differential of your prior 20 rounds based on how many rounds you have played in the last 30 days.

There are probably no surprises with the chart above.

If you have not played a round of golf in the last 30 days, and you decide to dust off the sticks to go play, your chances of beating the median differential of your prior 20 rounds is only 28.2%. You are much more likely to play worse than what your typical round of golf is. No surprises there.

If you have played 16 or more rounds in the prior 30 days, (I want to be you) your chances of beating the median differential of your prior 20 rounds is 56.8%. If you are playing a lot, you are more likely to be improving. Again, no real surprises here.

Now let's get to the nugget that might surprise you.

This next chart shows the chances of beating the median differential of your prior 20 rounds by the number of days it has been since your last round.

When the number of days since your last round equals 1, that means you played yesterday.

Nothing in the chart above surprises me except for that very first row.

If you played yesterday, your chances of beating the median differential of your prior 20 rounds in today's round is only 44.8%!

When you play back-to-back days, on day number two you are less likely to beat your median 20 round differential than if you have not played in 11-14 days.

That was surprising.

What does this mean for you?

I am not exactly sure what is going on but I will toss out a few guesses. If you are like me, you have a desk job and aren't exactly in the same physical shape as a world-class athlete.

Playing a round of golf can be tiring. Perhaps when we play back-to-back we are a little more tired and sore than normal?

For some of us (like me), this little nugget might be telling us we can perform better on back-to-back days with some better physical conditioning?

Whatever the factors in play are, this should be something you pay attention to in your game. Are you playing worse on day number two when you play back-to-back?

If you are, jamming in an 18-hole practice round the day before a big event might not be the best option...


I co-host the "Hack it Out Golf" podcast with:

  • YouTube golf coach Mark Crossfield (412k subscribers)

  • PGA Tour Player Greg Chalmers

We cover a wide range of game improvement and stat topics.

Golfers download our podcast nearly 350 thousand times each month.

Please give us a listen.

Have a great day!

Lou Stagner