The 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass is truly iconic. It may well be the most famous hole on the planet, and perhaps the one golfers dream of players playing more than any other.
Last year, we dove into a ream of Arccos data taken from players’ performance on similar length holes, and uncovered some rather interesting results.
According to Arccos’ projections, amateur golfers would hit the green somewhere in the realm of 20 percent, with their average score on the hole “most likely closer to something in the 5s than it is in the 3s”.
Ahead of the 2023 Players Championship, the PGA Tour ran a real-world experiment about exactly that. They camped out on the hole for a full day as 95 golfers rolled through, and watched almost 60 percent of them hit their ball into the water.
But what I found most fascinating was this chart, showing where every initial shot hit on the hole ended. Look closely and you’ll find that only three shots missed long of the green, past the back end. A grand total of 3.15 percent. By contrast, 38 shots ended up short to my eye, which equates to about 40 percent.
It’s just the latest proof for the ever-present truth that golfers almost never take enough club. They over-estimate how far they hit the ball, and hurt their score because of it.
In some ways that was best illustrated by the golfer who hit the best shot of the day. With the hole playing 120 metres that day, this golfer said he pulled a 9-iron which he was hitting up to 128 metres that day. His plan was to hit something that would end up past the pin.
He hit a great shot and thankfully so, because his ball barely caught the front of the green, landing a few feet from the hole which was situated at the very front. If he was actually trying to hit the middle of the green, he probably under-clubbed himself by one – or maybe two – clubs.
Anyway, it was a great video (which you can watch below) and a good reminder for the rest of us. Take an extra club, even when you don’t think you need to. Because you probably do.
The pros make it look easy. It's not.
We captured video and data of every amateur that played No. 17 @TPCSawgrass for one day.
The results … pic.twitter.com/xGp2vw8EVq
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) March 6, 2023