Moneyball for Golf

Jeff Fisher
Director of Instruction
Fisher Bryan Golf Academy at Longbow Golf Club
Mesa, AZ

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Several years ago, the Oakland Athletics major league baseball team started evaluating players by a different standard than teams had traditionally used. They basically reprioritized the stats that they thought had the most value in deciding which players to pick, and the phrase “Moneyball” was coined.

I believe we can do the same in golf. There are so many stats that we can use to evaluate our play on the course, but I think most golfers place too much importance on the wrong stats and too little importance on the correct ones. I am going to show you how two statistical categories, greens in regulation and three-putt avoidance, can change your whole game!

First of all, notice that I said greens in regulation and mentioned nothing about how close you are actually hitting it to the hole. Most players should not be concerned about where the pin is and just hit their approach shot to the middle of the green. This will give them the greatest margin for error and even a less than perfect shot will still most likely hit the green. Also, when they do miss, the ball will more likely be in a position where they have a better chance at an up and down.

Then comes three-putt avoidance. Hitting to the middle of the green will often leave you in the 20-40 foot range for your first putt. If you can become proficient at two-putting from these distances, then greens in regulation will result in easy pars and some great chances at birdies.

Focusing on these two things will also take a lot of pressure off of the rest of your game! By just trying to hit to the middle of the green, you did not feel the need to be perfect with your iron shots because you have a larger area in which you can miss and still be on the green. If you are firing at pins and hitting into the corners of the greens, you must be much more precise.

It will also take some pressure off of your tee shot game. Again, if you know you are only trying to hit your approach to the middle of the green you will not necessarily feel the need to get your tee shot as close to the green as possible. You can be comfortable hitting a shot that leaves you a slightly longer club for your approach because you have made your target for your second shot much bigger.

Greens in regulation and three-putt avoidance may not be the flashiest stats on the page, but if you focus on these two you will start to put some flashy numbers on your scorecard!

Jeff Fisher is Director of Instruction at the Fisher Bryan Golf Academy at Longbow Golf Club. Jeff can be reached at 480.414.9330 or