The ones that club golfers find the most dif­fi­cult to play

Golf Digest (South Africa) - - Gallery - Kevin Levey, Gaut­eng

Golfers in­vari­ably have talked at the 19th hole about the dif­fi­culty of the cour­ses they have played or wish to play. And then there is THE ques­tion:Which is the hard­est course in South Africa?

Be­ing no dif­fer­ent to any other golfer, I looked for the an­swer but found noth­ing but dif­fer­ing opin­ions.To feed my cu­rios­ity, I re­alised that the best way to rank cour­ses by dif­fi­culty would be to look at purely ob­jec­tive data. Luck­ily, the SAGA data is avail­able on­line, so I an­a­lysed more than 200 000 rounds from over 3 000 golfers (hand­i­caps 18 and un­der), us­ing an even dis­tri­bu­tion from around the coun­try go­ing back to 2014.

Us­ing a mea­sure of av­er­age shots over par above hand­i­cap, I ranked 450 cour­ses, and found some in­ter­est­ing re­sults. Hope­fully these will in­spire golfers to go out and col­lect the scalps of these cour­ses. For me, per­son­ally, it adds that ex­tra sense of achieve­ment know­ing I’ve played a great round at one of the coun­try’s most dif­fi­cult cour­ses.

Other in­ter­est­ing re­sults came out of the data. I an­a­lysed daily and monthly scores, the ef­fect of fre­quency on golfers’ scores, and the ef­fect that course va­ri­ety has on scores.

What came as a sur­prise was the dif­fi­culty of golf per prov­ince. Lim­popo and Mpumalanga, fea­tur­ing the likes of El­e­ments and Leop­ard Creek re­spec­tively, stood out as the most dif­fi­cult prov­inces to play golf.And the in­land prov­inces all fea­tured at the top of the list, with the ex­cep­tion of Free State.

Rounds are played evenly through­out the year, but most golf is played on Satur­days (38%) and Wed­nes­days (17%), then Sun­days (14%).The other four days make up 30%.

The win­ter months are the most dif­fi­cult.With an av­er­age score of 3.01 shots above hand­i­cap, July is al­most a shot more dif­fi­cult than the av­er­age scores posted in the sum­mer months, Oc­to­ber be­ing the eas­i­est with 2.16 shots above hand­i­cap. In terms of daily dif­fi­culty, Sun­day (Mon­day blues) is the most dif­fi­cult with 2.94 shots above hand­i­cap while Wed­nes­day (a good day out of the of­fice) is the eas­i­est with 2.33 shots above hand­i­cap.

There are two types of golfers: those who play mostly at one course, and those at a va­ri­ety of cour­ses. By brack­et­ing scores ac­cord­ing to the per­cent­age times each golfer has played each course in pro­por­tion to all the cour­ses they have played, I de­ter­mined a trend when it comes to course va­ri­ety.

Av­er­age shots above hand­i­cap are high­est on cour­ses where golfers have not played many rounds at these cour­ses

(less than 10%).As golfers play more rounds on spe­cific cour­ses, the av­er­age shots above hand­i­cap de­crease as ex­pected. How­ever, once golfers start play­ing too much golf on one course (above 70%) the shots above hand­i­cap start in­creas­ing.This might be due to the com­pla­cency of play­ing one’s home course, or the lack of pres­sure of play­ing a new course.The ideal mix to re­duce one’s hand­i­cap is to play around 70% of your golf at home, and spice it up with a num­ber of other cour­ses.

Us­ing sev­eral sta­tis­ti­cal tests, I was able to de­ter­mine that the fre­quency of golf (days be­tween rounds) had an ef­fect on scor­ing, but this was not eas­ily quan­tifi­able as there are other fac­tors that con­trib­ute to the per­for­mance of golfers. Now on to the crux of this the re­search, the most dif­fi­cult cour­ses.

– Ben Cren­shaw

“Golf is the hard­est game in the world. There is no way you can ever get it. Just when you think you do, the game jumps up and puts you in your place.” Pin­na­cle Point



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