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Golf: Putt For Show, Do Everything Else For Dough

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Stan Sutherland
Stan Sutherland

“Golf, like many sports, is fertile ground for folk wisdom. If you’ve spent time around a course, you’ve heard the expression “drive for show, putt for dough.” McCarthy’s case would cast some doubt on this formulation...” That’s from Shane Ryan who headlines his post, ‘The golf stats that matter most on the PGA Tour’.

So what’s the point about McCarthy?
Shane writes, ‘Consider, for a moment, Denny McCarthy. In the 2019-20 season, he was the strokes gained/putting champion of the PGA Tour, and almost became just the second person (after Jason Day) to average an entire stroke gained over the field per round. It was his second straight mythical putting title, and it’s not even a little hyperbolic to call him one of the greatest putters on Earth. That said, if you know anything about Denny McCarthy, you know he’s not one of the greatest players on Earth. In the two seasons when he led the PGA Tour in putting, he finished 111th and 73rd in the FedEx Cup standings and only managed six top-10s in 51 tournaments. There’s no doubt that he’s very good, but there’s also no doubt that in this case, his brilliant putting didn’t translate to superlative results.’

Shane provides interesting statistics which suggest maybe Bobby Locke got it wrong when he attributed his outstanding success to his putting ability and coined the phrase "You drive for show, but putt for dough”.

Alas the longer I live the more I’m inclined to think the statisticians have got it right.
Becoming a better putter is not going to produce a quantum leap in my scoring averages

Shane concludes and suggests we tweak that old folk expression and think, ‘Putt for show, do everything else for dough’.

Link to Shane Ryan


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