# Statistics are useful but it may be better to stick to the old horses-for-courses theory

## These analytical numbers are invaluable to club manufacturers and television announcers who have so much time to fill that they welcome any points of discussion however irrelevant

Phil Mickelson keeps an eye on Tiger Woods as he drives off in last weekend’s US PGA Championship. Photograph: Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Thu, Aug 15, 2013, 13:06

I had a chance meeting with a Harvard professor when I was in New York a few years ago. The coincidence of meeting the mathematics guru was twofold. Firstly, he happened to be a friend of a friend and secondly, a statistician who had a huge influence on the player for whom I was working at the time.

I was beginning to get the feeling that the player had an unhealthy obsession with numbers and it was ultimately detrimental to his game and particularly his practice. Statistics can point you directly to your weak points. Who likes practising their weaknesses?

Statistics are useful but must be handled with care. These analytical numbers are invaluable to club manufacturers and television announcers who have so much time to fill that they welcome any points of discussion however irrelevant.

The professor is a keen golfer and came up with a statistic for putts gained per hole. I am going to give myself away here and confess to not really having a grasp at how the number was produced but the winning player each week was pretty high up on this latest order of merit. No kidding. Ask any player what he did when he won and if I can use a statistic here to prove my point, 100 per cent of the players I asked said they putted well.

I suppose what I am leading to here is that there are two stark schools of thought in the modern game of golf. The ever increasing school is a scientific one where there is a number to explain your every step of your day from hotel to golf course and back again; don’t think, just look at the stats.