Out of all of the sports out there, one could argue that golf is the one where players rely the most on statistics. Whether a player plays on the professional circuit or just every Sunday morning with a group of friends, by the end of the round they are sure to analyse their game and calculate all of the areas in which they dropped shots.
Of course, some stats are more important than others. Taking this into account, I'll now look at the three areas which I deem most important for golf. I'll analyse the biggest hitters, the guys who go round in the least amount of putts and also those that hit the most amount of fairways. I should note that this has been compiled through the PGA Tour statistics, meaning that some players may not be mentioned as they have not participated on this schedule.
Average Driving Distance
When I scoured through the average driving statistics, the first thing that sprang to mind was that I'd never heard of the player that was leading this table. With an average of 309.6 yards, Ryan Palmer was the top of the average drives. However, he has recently slipped outside the top 100, which gives the first indication that this statistic has little to do with end performance. In fact, out of the top ten big hitters on the PGA Tour, only one of them is placed in the top 100. That man is Robert Garrigus, with his 303.7 yard average helping establish himself in the top forty.
As you filter down the list you do start to see some bigger names, with the likes of Boo Weekley, Bubba Watson and Bradley Keegan in and around the top thirty. However, considering the emphasis some players place on ripping drives as far as they can, it's interesting to see that there is little correlation between this and end success.
Putts Per Round
It is always a bit difficult to analyse the putting statistics, as each provide different levels of clarity. For example, while one player might have a lower putts per round average, this might be because they narrowly miss the green on a lot of holes and subsequently chip and one putt. Nevertheless, there appears to be a little more correlation between this statistic and the world ranking.
According to the stats, Mike Weir is one of the best players on the green with an average of 26.94 putts per round. There was once a time when Weir was classed as one of the best players in the world but with the veteran now well outside the top 100, little can be taken from this information. Instead, we've got to look further down the list, with the likes of Charlie Wi, Aaron Baddeley and David Toms in and around the top ten. All of these players are regarded as solid professionals although again - none of them are anywhere near the top world ranking spots.
You've got to look a little further down to see the big guys, with Phil Mickelson in 25th position with an average of 28.25 putts per round. Brandt Snedeker isn't far behind him with 28.32 putts, while Robert Garrigus and Tim Clark find themselves in the top fifty of the list.
Suffice to say, it looks as though there is slightly more correlation with the putting stats - although the fact that very few of the top players on the Tour are mentioned on the list suggests that it is again not too important.
Average Driving Accuracy
Out of all three statistics mentioned in this article, this appears to be the most important. Jim Furyk leads the way with 75.68% of fairways hit, while the likes of David Toms, Tim Clark, Ian Poulter and Brandt Snedeker are all in the top ten. Considering the fact that all of these men are ranked very respectably in terms of world ranking, it can be assumed that the amount of fairways hit has a huge influence on score.
As you look further down the list, the likes of Lee Westwood, Boo Weekly and Zach Johnson all hit 66%+ of fairways and again, all of these men have decent world rankings.
This statistic can lead on to a conclusion for the entire article. While it is generally assumed that players "drive for show, putt for dough", the stats here indicate that driving accuracy is probably the most important stat out of the lot. Those men that hit the most fairways appear to have the best world rankings, with the putting average and driving distance having little impact. Of course, if these stats were to be analysed further, they would be combined with others to make them slightly more accurate. However, for the purposes of this article, it can be highlighted that accuracy is one of the most important attributes of the modern day golfer.