Again in 2020, iron play is the most distinguishing of skills on the PGA Tour.
During the just-concluded 2019-20 PGA Tour season – as is usually the case – a player’s fate was most closely tied to his skill with approach irons.
For the Tour as a body, there was a 67.8 percent correlation between a player’s performance in the category of Strokes Gained Approaching the Green and his scoring average.
As has been the case for four of the five most recent tour seasons, that was the strongest correlation between scoring average and any of nine skills considered vital to on-course
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The 67.8 percent correlation was also the strongest relationship between scoring average and any of the nine skill factors since the 2015-16 season when the correlation between Strokes Gained Approaching the Green and scoring average touched 69.9 percent.
Correlation tests are the best methods of determining which on-course skills most strongly impact scoring on a season-long basis. But that season-long caveat is important. Probably due to the varying compositions of the field and the relatively small sample sizes involved, correlation tests don’t work as week-to-week predictors.
In fact some of the weakest categories over the course of a full season turn out to be the strongest factors in winning from week to week. For further details, see the section related to putting.
The nine skill sets that are considered as part of this analysis are the four major Strokes Gained categories – Off The Tee, Approaching The Green, Around The Green, and Putting – as well as average driving distance, driving accuracy, greens in regulation, scrambling percentage and putts per round.
In order from strongest to weakest, here’s a closer look at the correlations between the various skill sets and scoring average.