Awful shots, an easy path to lower scores

If you want to lower your scores reducing the number of awful shots should be one of your key priorities.

If you want to lower your scores reducing the number of awful shots should be one of your key priorities.

In his paper “Assessing Golfer Performance Using Golfmetrics”, Mark Broadie (the creator of Strokes Gained) says that strokes gained can be used to identify the best and worst (or awful) shots in a round.

What is an awful shot?

Using strokes gained (or shot value), Broadie defines an awful shot as a shot with a shot value with of less than -0.8 and a great shot as one with a shot value of more than +0.8.

The awful shots could come from bad swings or from a strategy that is too risky (attempting shots with a low probability of success).

Why are awful shots important?

In Broadie’s words, "an overlooked golf performance measure is consistency and consistent golfers have few very poor shots and few 'blowup' holes".

For amateur golfers a significant contributor to high scores is a relatively small number of awful shots. An inconsistent golfer may find reducing the number of awful shots an easy path to lower scores.

How many awful shots per round should you have?

Being an economist, Mark Broadie performed a regression between the number of awful shots per round (A) and the golfer's score (S) and got the following formula:


A = 0.24 * S - 17.1


This means that for a round of 80 shots (S) the benchmark is 2.1 awful shots ( A = 0.24 × 80 - 17.1). In the following table you can see the number of awful shots you should expect for several total scores.

How many awful shots do you have per round? Are you above or below the benchmark? In any case, if you want to lower your scores reducing the number of awful shots should be one of your key priorities.

When you enter a round in golfity, we will calculate how many awful shots you made and compare it to the benchmark.

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Mark Broadie
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