The rise of golf metrics

Updated: April 11, 2010, 9:24 AM ET
By Peter Keating

Lurking beneath the plotlines at the Masters this weekend is a huge story about how fans experience golf. The statistical revolution, while it's late in arriving, is about to hit the PGA Tour.

Since 2001, the tour has been collecting player performance data at an amazing level of detail through a system called ShotLink. Believe it or not, at every tournament ShotLink deploys about 250 volunteers: Some use lasers to pinpoint every shot, while others use hand-held devices to record information such as the golfer, score and quality of lie for every ball. PGA Tour officials have given some information from ShotLink to its TV partners, and in 2006, they began to share data privately with golfers about how much time players take per hole (John Daly, Chris Riley, Dustin Johnson, Mark Calcavecchia, Pat Perez and Brett Quigley are among the fastest on the tour). But for the most part, ShotLink's incredible trove of data has gone unused.

Until now.