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What Is An Up And Down In Golf

what is an up and down in golf
what is an up and down in golf

Up and downs can be defined as the following: The percent of time a player misses the green, and takes 1 shot to hit the ball onto the green, and 1 shot to make the subsequent putt.

This is different from scrambling, which has a clear definition: The percent of time a player misses the green in regulation, but still makes par or better. An up an down doesn’t have the requirement that the player has to make par or better, making it a stat that captures more successful occurrences.

However, up and downs are generally a bit difficult to agree on, as many players tend to have different opinions on what an up and down is. The PGA Tour, for example, only measures scrambling and not up and downs. Players often disagree on where a ‘long short game shot’ ends and an ‘up and down shot’ begins which makes it difficult to compare different players’ up & down percentages.

Here are a few examples:

  1. A player plays a par-3 hole and misses the green on the tee shot. The player chips up and makes the putt. This is a successful up and down.
  2. A player plays a par-3 hole and misses the green on the tee shot. The player chips up and misses the putt. This is an unsuccessful up and down.
  3. A player plays a par-4 hole and hits the tee shot behind a tree and needs to chip out sideways. This results in a missed green in regulation. Then the player hits the third shot onto the green and makes the putt. This is a successful scramble opportunity, but not an up and down, because the shot into the green was an approach shot, and not a shot hit from around the green.
  4. A player hits the first tee shot out of bounds. Then the player misses the green on the next shot, but chips up and makes a putt. This is an up and down, but isn’t counted as a successful scramble because the player didn’t make par or better.

Pros:

  • Measures a player’s ability to get the ball in the hole in 2 strokes from around the green.

Cons:

  • It’s a binary statistic meaning that it only measures whether or not the criteria for a successful up & down is satisfied or not, but fails to capture nuances.
  • An ‘up and down’ doesn’t have a widely agreed upon definition, so comparing players’ different up & down percentages is difficult.

Recommendations

As with many of the ‘traditional’ golf stats, they do tell a story, but only part of the story. They really useful to use as supplementary variables and help narrow down what is actually happening, but only with help from other data points. We would recommend that you look at Strokes Gained Around the Green, and if possible, Strokes Gained from different distances and lies in order to narrow down things to exactly what is happening to the shot hit around the green. The Strokes Gained variables isolate the shots hit from around the green on their own, without being influenced or affected by other things they are not designed to measure.