We often hear from professional golfers how important it is to have a “one way miss’”and to be able to “take one side of the golf course out of play” in order to drive the ball more effectively. However, statistical evidence indicates that this is not quite an accurate depiction of how the best golfers in the world effectively drive the ball.
A metric that I have explored quite frequently is “miss bias.” This is the percentage of time a player misses a fairway right or left. What I have found is that there is no direction that is better to miss the fairway. Having a right miss bias is equal to having a left miss bias. Typically, what is more important is the ratio of the miss bias.
I feel the best indicator of driving success is to look at the top players in my “Driving Effectiveness” ranking. Driving Effectiveness is based on algorithm that considers the following metrics:
- Driving distance
- Fairway percentage
- Average distance from the edge of fairway (on drives that miss the fairway)
- Percentage of fairway bunkers hit
- Missed fairways and other (shots that end up in the trees, water, O.B, etc.)
Here is a table with the current top-20 players in Driving Effectiveness and their Miss Bias.
As the chart shows, 13 of the top-20 ranked players have a miss bias that is no more than 55 percent either way.
Now, let’s look at this year’s players with miss biases that are greater than 60 percent and their rankings in Driving Effectiveness.
Tour golfers can strike the ball well off the tee with a large miss bias, however, not one of these players on the list is ranked in the top 20 in Driving Effectiveness. Furthermore, let’s take a look at the players on that list that played last on the Tour last season.
The chart shows that if the player’s miss bias in 2012 was less than 60 percent, they were typically more effective off the tee. Rod Pampling, Rory McIlroy, John Huh and Tiger Woods are examples of golfers that had a miss bias less than 60 percent in 2012 and also drove the ball much more effectively as well.
What the data tells me is that trying to taking one side “out of play” is not great advice if you wish to be an effective driver of the ball. There are likely too many holes where the golfer has to favor the right side or the left side.
What I’ve seen from my tour players is that having a “one-way miss” is actually more about having a “one-way curve.” If a golfer tend to hit a draw with their stock swing, they’ll be best served to continue to hit draws or straight balls off the tee. When many golfers try to alternate between draws and fades, however, they often risk getting into trouble and being less effective off the tee.
If a player has a more extreme miss bias, that tends to indicate a common “big miss” that they cannot rid themselves of. And that miss may cost them down the line.
I recommend that amateur golfers forget about having a “one-way miss.” They need to concern themselves with getting the ball to curve one way, and identify that common “big miss” and work to make it a smaller one.