One Putt Per Round. It’s Huge.
One good view of this, is to compare the best 150 players in the world (PGA Tour players) across several metrics. Let’s pick strokes played total (scoring average) minus total putts = strokes to the green average, versus total putts.
In 2011, the 1st place in scoring average was Luke Donald at 68.86 strokes (adjusted), and 150th place was Garrett Willis at 71.46 strokes. The differential was 2.6 strokes.
Let’s take the “Putts per Round” of these same two… Luke took 28.03 putts per round (4th), and Garrett took 29.20 (90th). A difference of 1.17 puts per round. This was 4.7 putts per tournament.
Now, Luke was #1 in “Strokes Gained Putting”, at +0.844 putting strokes per round. Garrett was 109th, at -0.018 (essentially at Tour Average). The difference was just about 3.4 strokes on the greens per tournament.
So… comparing the Best Putter in 2011 (Luke) against a proxy for the Tour Average Putter (Garrett) shows something very interesting. To be the best putter on Tour, an otherwise average Tour putter needs to make only about one added putt per round. Just one.
Now, ball striking matters of course…
By a simple subtraction, Luke took 40.83 strokes through the green, and Garrett took 42.26… a 1.43 stroke per round differential.
But even if Garrett struck the ball no better, what would that one putt per round equate to?
Let’s take the scoring average of Garrett, subtract one shot… he becomes a ” 70.46 ” scorer… which would be 40th on the Vardon list. Now, scoring correlates at a very high level to earnings, so where would Garrett be at 40th on the Money List? Roughly $2.3 million… compared to the $528K of his actual total money earned. Almost $2 million = 1 putt per round. Now, Garrett played a fairly light schedule, so he was not truly representative of an average Tour Player. But this small putt per round differential would have quadrupled his earnings.
Repeat this exercise, in a more statistically valid way, with the entire tour, and it comes out to roughly $2 million per 0.7 shots per round (3 shots in a four round event).
One more made Putt. Changes the Game.