Every week leading up to and during the 2017 Pro Season we will be featuring a UDisc Stat of the Week.
Most of the top pros play it safe.
The chart below plots the MPO touring pros with birdie percentage as the horizontal axis and scramble percentage as the vertical axis. Farther right represents carding more birdies. Higher up signals a better scramble save rate – notice Michael Johansen above every other player with his impressive 83% scramble rate.
The gray trend line shows the average correlation between the two stats among the top pros. Generally the best players post high numbers for birdies and for scrambles.
The cluster of top pros in the upper right are near the top for highest birdie percentage and for best scramble percentage. These pros favor safer play – chasing birdies but staying in position to scramble and save par.
The chart also shows a few McOutliers. Paul McBeth and Eagle McMahon are both ranked in the top 5 for birdie percentage and in the bottom 5 for scramble rate. Paul and Eagle have two of the biggest arms in the game and tend to take more aggressive and potentially riskier lines. They are rewarded with birdies when they succeed but when off target may struggle to scramble and save par and end up with a bogey.
One clear outcome of the aggressive strategy is a lower percentage of pars. Paul and Eagle were the only two competitors to score par on less than 40% of holes played last season. McBeth and McMahon also had higher bogey percentages than any of the pros from the safe cluster. The additional stats captured from UDisc help tell the story.
The OB Rate stat tracks the average number of throws landing out of bounds per hole. The stat is displayed similar to a batting average except in this case a lower number is better. An OB rate of .500 would signify a player landed out of bounds on average every other hole. A score above 1.0 is possible if a player were to land OB multiple times per hole and have more OB throws than holes played.
Looking at the OB rates from the 2016 season, the average for the touring pros was .089. Another way to look at the average is to multiply by 18 holes to get 1.6 throws landing OB per round of golf. Cale Leiviska kept more shots in play than anyone else and had an OB rate of .037. This equated to just 0.67 OB throws per round, less than half of the average.
The safe cluster of players from the scatter plot are all near the top of the OB Rate chart below. McBeth and McMahon posted higher OB Rates than average due to their more aggressive playing style.
Having detailed stats for the top players last season helps us understand the how and why behind the results. Tracking and ranking players across different dimensions shows the multiple paths and strategies the players take to the top. For stats nerds like me, analyzing these numbers is a great bonus when following the pro tour events.
The NT Kicks off this weekend and we’re just a week away from the start of the Disc Golf Pro Tour season at the Memorial on March 1. Make sure to watch Paul and Eagle on the MPO Feature card at the Memorial and follow all your favorite pros online at UDiscLive.com.
Next week I’ll highlight the updates for 2017 and the many ways to follow and analyze the stats this season.