Measurement of Golf Proficiency

Rasch analysis of golf is simple in concept. Each stroke results in a task done correctly or incorrectly (e.g., the ball lands in the fairway or not). Each stroke can be scored dichotomously. The hole-by-hole scoring of the August 1990 U.S. Open at Medinah Country Club is reported by the United States Golf Association. These data were collected over the four day tournament as the professional players turned in their signed score cards. The 68 players played 18 holes a day over 4 days. They produced 4,896 hole scores.

The Table shows a map of players, holes and days. The winner, Hale Irwin, is at the top. He finished regulation play in a tie with Mike Donald, and then won in a sudden death playoff.

Thursday and Friday are the easiest days with Saturday harder and Sunday almost two standard errors more difficult than Saturday. This shows that most golfers performed less well under the higher pressure of Sunday, the final day of the tournament, as would be expected, given the high stakes involved.

A complicating factor for the hole difficulty is that on each day of the four day tournament the pin placement is changed on each green. This makes the hole either easier or harder to play each day. If this were not done, the holes would become increasingly easier as the players became familiar with them. However, there are no daily increments in pin placement difficulty intended to make the course most difficult on Sunday.

In pre-Open commentary, Curtis Strange picked holes 16, 12, 4, 13 and 7 as the most crucial. In this analysis, holes 16 and 12 were the most difficult, with hole 4 just behind. Hole 13 was the most misfitting (along with hole 17), yielding the most unpredictable hole scores. But hole 7 was consistently easy.

This type of analysis can be made more helpful to golf courses and players by scoring individual strokes. Then players could learn exactly where their strengths and weaknesses lie (driving, the short game, putting, etc.) and discover how the type of hole and course affects their play. They could also measure the effects of changes in their technique and different equipment. Courses could also be handicapped to a degree never before possible, and their design further improved.

Patrick Fisher

Measurement of Golf proficiency. Fisher P. Rasch Measurement Transactions 1994 7:4 p.332


Measurement of Golf proficiency. Fisher P. … Rasch Measurement Transactions, 1994, 7:4 p.332



Rasch Publications
Rasch Measurement Transactions (free, online) Rasch Measurement research papers (free, online) Probabilistic Models for Some Intelligence and Attainment Tests, Georg Rasch Applying the Rasch Model 3rd. Ed., Bond & Fox Best Test Design, Wright & Stone
Rating Scale Analysis, Wright & Masters Introduction to Rasch Measurement, E. Smith & R. Smith Introduction to Many-Facet Rasch Measurement, Thomas Eckes Invariant Measurement: Using Rasch Models in the Social, Behavioral, and Health Sciences, George Engelhard, Jr. Statistical Analyses for Language Testers, Rita Green
Rasch Models: Foundations, Recent Developments, and Applications, Fischer & Molenaar Journal of Applied Measurement Rasch models for measurement, David Andrich Constructing Measures, Mark Wilson Rasch Analysis in the Human Sciences, Boone, Stave, Yale
in Spanish: Análisis de Rasch para todos, Agustín Tristán Mediciones, Posicionamientos y Diagnósticos Competitivos, Juan Ramón Oreja Rodríguez

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