Rainbow on the golf course

No laying up

It wasn’t just weather storms that were brewing during the first couple of days at The Masters this year. While strong winds felled some trees at Augusta on Friday a storm was raging.

Writing this article makes me feel like a real journalist: sourcing Twitter instead of doing real investigative work but the drama unfolded with a semi-serious tweet based on a comment by one of The Masters commentators on the 3rd hole.

The comment, by former professional and announcer Colt Knost was about his perception that players were better to leave themselves a full wedge shot into the short par 4 rather than getting as close to the hole.

Tweet by Mr Decade

Scott Fawcett, former player and creator of Decade golf system too exception calling out the comment and the storm ensued.

It’s an opinion! Some guys are better from 100 than 50


The conversation continued, sometimes aggressively, sometime amiably, but the argument boils down to statistics. Scott‘s system encourages smart targets and higher percentage play through controlled aggression.

For this particular scenario, the layup areas is around 25 yards wide, with bunkers close by and therefore a very small target. Given the risk in that shot you would benefit from being closer to the green where the risks are less and the up and down chances greater – even with the hole location.


The stat hole, Lou Stagner, chimed in with more data. Surely this would put the argument to rest. But no.

Shotlink data

I think that the data proves the point and at some stage during the round Colt was asked about laying up strategy on the third again, maybe by colleague Shane Bacon. His response:

I’ve been told not to talk about it any more.

Colt Knost

The maths won with the shorter distances gaining around 0,3 shots. Over the course of a tournament this is a full shot and given competition is about small margins – this would appear to be a no brainer.

This was a great storm in a teacup but it does make you question the integrity of some of the words coming from commentators mouths.

As well as this particular incident you have the “putt for birdie” scenario regularly when the actual make rate percentages are tiny. I know commentary is there to inform and colour the event but still. For example is a great look at birdie from 15 feet really that great. Pros have a just over 1 in 5 chance of holing from this distance.

This post is in no way supposed to pick out Colt, it was more about the conversation it created and the scene of all these virtual calculators being thrown all over the inter web.

And also, perhaps, a call to action to broadcasters to acknowledge that there are a lot of people out there that know the numbers – bring commentary into the real world.