Data Analytics Is Changing The Game Of Golf Forever

Data analytics is transforming golf in all kinds of ways. Here's how it's making the sport more exciting.

7 Min Read

We have talked about how big data is used to improve the sports industry. However, we thought it might be good to focus specifically on golf.

Like in all sports, data analytics have become a key feature in golf, not just forecasting results, but in the progression of skills. Big data has been playing a huge role for businesses, but its purpose in the world of golfing is just starting to be explored. This is what you want to know.

Big data has been used in golf for around a decade. It first gained a lot of attention when Zach Johnson used data analytics to perfect his golf swing during the PGA tour in 2011. A growing number of other golfers, including hobbyists, have started relying heavily in big data to improve their game as well.

History of Big Data and Golf

While big data is a concept that really took hold in the last few years, data analytics in the world of golf have been happening since 2003, when the PGA worked to create a ball-tracking system. The system, known as ShotLink, was an advancement from previous tracking models and it allowed the PGA to break down every player’s stroke and analyze speed, movement, distance, and many other factors.

The introduction of modern technology and a golf simulator not only improved players’ games, but it also bridged the gap between the more traditional golfers and the younger, more technology-based crowd. Since the 2003 version of ShotLink was introduced, the system has evolved more, becoming a huge system that is capable of working with apps and devices through the use of high-resolution cameras. While other forms of tracking and intelligence have come out since then, the PGA is still learning new things about the relationship of data and golfing, resulting in studies to figure out what the data can reveal about the best golfers.

A number of other options are gaining attention. Last year, talked about Data Golf, a new startup that uses big data to help golfers in numerous ways.

What Has Been Revealed

In 2016, a study was conducted by capturing 225 terabytes of data for more than 13,000 golf swings. This is a stunning example of a way that big data can improve sports. The information was taken from golfers across the board, from the best professional players on the PGA tour to amateur players with a handicap. The data gave us six important factors that separate the exceptional players from the ones that are just not there yet. These factors are:

  • Hip sway at the point of impact
  • Hip sway at the top of the swing
  • Hip turn at the point of impact
  • Shoulder tilt at the top of the swing
  • Shoulder tilt at the point of impact
  • Shoulder bend at the finish of the swing

What does this mean? This means that the movement of your shoulder and your hip are really what determines the type of golfer you are. With the data that the PGA has acquired, we have learned the following:

  • One-third of putts are from 20 feet away, but pro golfers usually make it close to the hole within the first shot.
  • Shooting for the green is a safer bet than laying-up on a par 5, even if it means risking water hazards, because it can cut your putting distance in half a lot of the time.
  • The best golfers make their putts between 11 and 20 feet away.
  • The majority of golfers will hit the fairway when it is 150 to 175 yards away, but are more likely to hit the rough when the fairway is closer.
  • Golfers will gain an advantage rather than losing it, if they aim around 30 yards back in order to avoid hitting hazards, because it removes the risk of strokes lost to hazards.

There is a lot more data on golfing statistics out there as well. The importance of it depends on what you want to know and what you are hoping to achieve.

What to do with the Information

Even if you know what factors go into making a good golf player great, that does not mean you will know what you are doing and how to adjust yourself to improve your game. Unless you are going to hire a coach to guide you, you will need to look into other options, like golf simulators.

A golf simulator is simulated golf game. Sometimes it can project a screen with a driving range or a full golf course, but there are a lot of different types out there. When you take a swing or play a game with a golf simulator, it collects the data from you in real-time, giving you information about your swing. You can then adjust accordingly. They will track your swing progress typically as well, so you can know how well you are moving and what you need to do to adjust.

Ultimately, we all have some room for improvement that we can tackle. Through the use of big data and other analytics, we, as golfers, are learning more and more about what it really takes to advance in the sport and become a better golfer overall. A golf simulator might be your best bet to monitor yourself at home as well.

Big Data is Crucial for the Golf Profession

Golfers have discovered the countless benefits of big data. They will use new data insights to improve their game in remarkable ways. Big data startups should explore new ways to help golfers excel.

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