Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Masters is on. (Basketball fans may have seen ads for this.)

Golf has a lot of dead airtime. Consider the long periods of time where they will just show the leaderboard. If ever there was a sport designed for Tivo, this is it.

And yet I’m amazed at how they only give us a snipet of the useful data that’s out there. For example, three players are tied but they are at different places on the golf course. They are undoubtedly not in equivalent position even though the TV leaderboard lists them as equal. One player may face only the final difficult hole, and have no chance to improve. One player may have just finished the hard part of the golf course, and have a favorable finishing stretch. One player may face a large mix of holes the rest of the way. Could we see a numerical representation of this?

Certainly the technology exists. We often see graphics that say, this par 3 hole has averaged 3.17, this par 4 has averaged 4.25, this part 5 has averaged 4.84. We could list each golfer’s current number of strokes plus the number of strokes it takes an average golfer to finish the course from that point on. The total would be the projected score for each player.

Would this be better than the leaderboard? Maybe not, but in 3 ½ hours of airtime, it would be something different to show. Of course there might be reasons to dislike this approach. Should the golfer playing the best golf in the field be projected to do as well as the average player? But I’d still like to see some of golf’s sabermetrics be used a little more heavily.

There’s been some great stuff happening in basketball, but I don’t have the time right now to post it on a daily basis, so you’ll have to look elsewhere for your early entry and coaching change gossip. Maybe I’ll have more later in the spring.