What is Strokes Gained?

Strokes gained is an advanced statistic that originated from analyzing strokes taken by pros in PGA tournaments. It has major advantages in analyzing a golfer’s performance compared to traditional stats.

In general, strokes gained looks at a baseline player, then compares a player’s strokes against that baseline. The baseline could be a PGA Tour pro, an average 20-handicap, or anything in between. Good shots have positive strokes gained. Poor shots have negative strokes gained.

When you roll up all the data, you can see very specifically which parts of your game are strong, and which require more work.

For a more comprehensive look at strokes gained, check out our blog posts: What Is Strokes Gained and How Strokes Gained Works.

Why is Strokes Gained Better than Classic Golf Statistics?

Until recently, classic golf statistics were the best way to understand performance. Players had to rely on stats like fairways hit, greens in regulation, scrambling percentage, and number of putts.

But the classic stats have some major flaws.

For example, greens in regulation is meant to measure approach shots, but is highly dependent on driving accuracy and distance to the hole. If your tee shots are short and erratic, your greens in regulation suffers and does not accurately reflect your approach shots.

Likewise, putts per round is meant to measure putting, but is highly dependent on greens in regulation and short game. If you miss a lot of greens and chip on, you’ll naturally be closer to the hole on your first putt. So fewer putts can mean you’re putting well, or that you’re struggling tee-to-green.

With strokes gained, every shot is entirely independent of every other shot. When you look at a 155 yard shot from the rough, you are comparing only that exact distance and lie to a baseline player (the “average pro”, or the “average 10 handicap”), regardless of other strokes taken on the hole.

Further, strokes gained is infinitely divisible. You can look at your performance on any subset of strokes to get very detailed insights. How is your putting from 20-30 feet? How are your 100-120 yard iron shots? How does your short game from the bunkers compare to your short game from the rough?

How is Strokes Gained Calculated?

Strokes gained isn’t too complicated to understand, but definitely requires a bit of explanation.

The Pinpoint app includes a simple guide, accessible from the settings page under “How Strokes Gained Works”.

For a more comprehensive look at strokes gained, check out our detailed guide: How Strokes Gained Works.

Do I Have to Take Out My Phone To Track Each Shot?

Not at all! Pinpoint was designed to leverage your phone’s GPS so it’s easy to track when you’re standing right beside the ball ready to hit. But that’s not the only way to use the app.

It’s equally easy to only pull out your phone after each hole, tracking all your strokes after holing out. Just manually drag the map to indicate where you teed off at the start of the hole and track your tee shot. Then do the same for each subsequent shot and the pin position, and enter your putts.

Likewise, you can easily track an entire round after the fact. In this case, though, you may want to keep some notes to remember where each shot ended up and the distance of each of your putts. Even this whole-round approach to tracking only takes a few minutes.

Can I Track Strokes Gained Against a Baseline Other Than PGA Tour Pros?

Absolutely! Pinpoint includes data from the PGA Tour, so you can compare against tour pros, but it also includes data of players of a wide range of skill levels.

When you first install Pinpoint, we’ll ask you for your handicap or average score, then assign a baseline comparison. At any time, you can change the comparison by clicking the button in the top-right corner of the screen and selecting any baseline, from “Tour Pro” to “Scratch” to “20 Handicap”.

When you’ve set your baseline in Pinpoint, all of your stats and map views adjust to compare your strokes gained to the baseline you selected.

Doesn't Strokes Gained Depend On the Layout and Conditions of the Course?

Yes it does, but not as much as you might think.

On the PGA Tour, all of the pros play the same courses each week, so strokes gained comparisons across the field are absolutely precise.

With Pinpoint, you may be playing courses that are substantially different from those played by other players (easier, harder, more penalty areas, slower or faster greens).

Some factors that don’t make a difference:

  • Course distance / tees. Because the distance of each stroke is accounted for in the strokes gained calculation, playing on much shorter or longer courses than other players doesn’t make much difference.
  • Size of greens. Large or small greens will make a difference in greens in regulation, but not much of a difference in strokes gained.

Some factors that do make a difference:

  • Difficulty / thickness of rough. If you play in very heavy or light rough, the rough may represent more or less of a challenge than the rough faced by the baseline player, affecting your comparative performance out of the rough.
  • Slope / speed of greens. If your greens are significantly easier or harder than those faced by the baseline player, your putting stats may be better or worse accordingly.
  • Course layout / shot selection. If your course forces different shot choices from the same distance and lie, those differences may affect your strokes gained. For example, be aware if your course has many more or fewer hazards, many more or fewer forced layups, or many more or fewer unusual hole layouts.

In general, if the conditions (not distance) on your course are similar to those in PGA events, strokes gained will be highly accurate compared to tour pros. If the conditions are similar to those faced by other Pinpoint users, the other “average handicap” baselines will be more accurate.

To sum up, if your course is substantially different from the baseline to which you’re comparing your game, you may simply need to take the differences into account slightly when thinking about your stats.

Is Pinpoint Available for Golf Teams and Coaches?

Not yet, but this is a feature we’re actively considering. If you’d like to support this feature, visit our features site and vote:

In the meantime, players can certainly sign up for their own Pinpoint accounts to track their games and share analytics with their coaches. In fact, we strongly recommend it!

How Do I Track a 9-Hole Round or Start on the Back Nine?

To track a 9-hole round, you can just track your round normally as you would for an 18-hole round. When you finish the 9th hole, the app gives you a “finish 9-hole round” button next to the usual “finish hole” button.

If you want to start on the back nine, or only play the back nine, first start tracking your round as usual. Then, use the right caret icon on the top of the screen (“>”) to move to the next hole until you reach hole number 10. In this manner, you can actually play the course in any order you choose.

At any time, you can also click the “x” button on the top of the tracking screen and choose “finish 9-hole round” (or “finish 12-hole round” or whatever partial round you’ve played).

What Lie Should I Track When I'm On the Fringe?

For purposes of strokes gained tracking, the fringe is considered “fairway”. Track fringe strokes as strokes taken from the fairway and do not include them in your putts.

In your stats, strokes taken from the fringe (even when using a putter) are counted in your fairway short game stats, not in your putting stats.

When Should I Track My Lie as "Recovery?"

In most cases, if you are not in the fairway or a bunker, you are considered to be in the rough, even when technically you are hitting from pine straw or mud or some other surface.

However there is another category called “recovery” that is included in the tracking and needs a clear definition.

A “recovery” lie represents a position where the normal stroke toward the green can’t be taken. For example, if the ball sits 180 yards out in deep fescue and you have to lay up with a wedge rather than hitting a mid-iron at the green, this would be considered a recovery lie. As another example, if the ball ends up in trees and you have to punch out sideways into the fairway, this would be considered a recovery lie.

If you can take your normal shot at the green, even if that shot is quite difficult, generally you are not in a recovery lie.

Can I Pick Up and Take the Max Score On a Hole?

Picking up and taking a max score is not currently supported in Pinpoint.

Technically, you can skip a hole and not track it at all, or simply not track your putts on a hole, thereby leaving the hole unfinished. In these cases, the strokes you track will be counted towards your stats and the ones you don’t will not.

This is a feature we’re actively considering, however. If you’d like to support this feature, visit our features site and vote:

How Can I Track a Chip-In Or Hole-Out With No Putts?

It’s easy to track chip-ins or hole-outs in Pinpoint. For the purposes of tracking strokes gained for the entire hole, you still need to set the pin position, but not track any putts.

In order to track a chip-in or hole-out, follow these steps:

  1. Click the “Green” lie.
  2. Set the pin position.
  3. Delete the first putt on the putting screen.
  4. Click “Save.”

This process will track the hole with 0 putts and treat your last shot as having holed out.

How Do I Track a Provisional Ball?

If you hit a provisional ball, you needn’t track anything in Pinpoint until the actual ball in play is determined. Once the ball in play is determined, go back and track the correct strokes according to the situation as it unfolded.

For example, if you it hit a ball off the tee that might be lost, track your tee shot by indicating “tee off here”. Then hit a provisional ball and do not track it. If the original ball is indeed lost, track a “Penalty” > “Lost Ball” in Pinpoint. This will automatically track the stroke-and-distance penalty for the lost ball. Then proceed to your provisional ball and track its location and lie. Pinpoint will indicate you are now lying three at the location of your provisional ball.

If I Have a Lost Ball or Out of Bounds, How Do I Track Taking a Drop for Relief Under the New Local Rule E-5?

In 2019, the USGA introduced a new local rule as an alternative to stroke-and-distance. The rule is generally not in effect for high-level competition, but may be in effect at other times.

You can read more about the rule here: Alternative to Stroke and Distance for Lost Ball or Ball Out of Bounds

Pinpoint doesn’t specifically support the new rule, and will automatically track stroke-and-distance when you indicate a lost ball or a shot out of bounds.

If you wish to play to the new local rule, you can use other functions of the app to achieve the same effect.

You may think you would track “Penalty” > “Lost Ball” or “Penalty” > “Out of Bounds”, then indicate the location of your drop as the location of the second shot. This is not ideal, however, as your second shot will be tracked and attributed to your stats, even though you didn’t actually hit another shot.

Instead, track “Penalty” > “Technical Two-Stroke Penalty” and then indicate the lie location of your drop. This will correctly track your stroke and penalty under the new local rule.

The App Doesn't Include the View of My Data I Want. Is There a Way to Further Refine the Analytics?

In some cases, there may be. If you are unsure, please feel free to email us at support@pinpoint.golf and we’ll be happy to help.

If you’re sure the view you want is not available, visit our product features site and submit a request for the new feature. Before you post, search the site and see if another user has already requested the same feature. If so, simply add an upvote and/or a comment to lend your support. If not, create a new post, providing as much detail as you can so that we can understand your needs and other users can support your request.

I Have an Idea for a New Feature. How Can I Suggest It?

We have a product features site where users can submit requests and vote for new features.

Before you post, search the site and see if another user has already requested the same feature. If so, simply add an upvote and/or a comment to lend your support. If not, create a new post, providing as much detail as you can so that we can understand your needs and other users can support your request.

I Have Another Question Not Answered Here

We’re happy to help! Feel free to email us at support@pinpoint.golf and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.