The problem is those minimum point values can
tip the scale. For example, the open championships of
Australia, Japan and South Africa award a minimum
of 32 points to the winner, regardless of the strength of
field. According to the OWGR website, these “flagship
events” of minor tours get special higher-minimum-
point levels “to reflect their status.”
There might not be a scientific justification for the
current OWGR methodology, but perhaps there is
some other reason besides ranking the top players in
the world. Just as affirmative action policies in educa-
tion and the workplace played an important role at
a certain time in providing opportunities to disen-
franchised minorities, so too, it could be argued, does
awarding “minimum value” points to minor tours. It helps
globalize the game in a more equitable manner, it creates
interest in emerging golf markets both among fans and
potential sponsors and it provides more possibilities for
players from different tours to compete against each other.
In short, the OWGR is the most effective marketing tool
global golf has.
The OWGR system is routinely monitored by a technical
committee and minimum point values are determined by
representatives from the world’s major and minor tours in
consultation with OWGR coordinators Tony Greer and Ian
Barker. In an email to Golf World, Greer and Barker explain
those minimum values are determined by the committee:
“As was the case when the ranking was first launched, a
careful study was carried out to establish these parameters.”
Of course, “careful study” can still result in incongrui-ties, such as these examples:
■ Francesco Molinari won the 2010 WGC-HSBC Champions event and earned 68 points for his victory. The tournament is an otherwise inconsequential, though high-prize-money event held well after the conclusion of the major
The gospel according
to Mark: McCormack’s
long-ago launch of a
semi-serious ranking has
done as he promised: It
has started arguments.
championships at an undistinguished course in China.
The problem: Molinari’s
point total was worth more
than losing the playoff for
this year’s Masters.
■ K. T. Kim is a rising Korean player with an admirable
local record in Asian events but a pair of missed cuts and
a T-59 in his last three major championships. He earned
32 points when he won the Japan Open in 2010, more than
what he would have earned for finishing fourth in the PGA
Championship. But he didn’t finish fourth, he finished T-59.
■ Hiroyuki Fujita won the recent Golf Nippon Series
JT Cup, an end-of-year event for the top 25 players on the
JGTO money list and tournament winners. His 18 points
for that victory exceed by 18 the number of points he
earned for not making the cut at the British Open, while
at the same time nearly match the points won by Luke
Donald or Nick Watney for finishing fourth at last year’s
■ Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño grabbed 46 points when
Let’s begin with three golfers: Tom, who
plays the Red course; Dick, who plays
the Blue; and Harry who plays both.
Suppose Tom always scores 71
on the Red course and Dick always
scores 69 on the Blue, but they never
play each other’s course. Who is the
better golfer? That’s impossible to tell
without more information.
Suppose I add that Harry plays both
courses and always scores 72 on the
Red and always scores 68 on the Blue.
Now because Harry “connects” the two
golfers, it is possible to determine the
relative skills of the three golfers and the
relative difficulties of the two courses.
Here’s the answer: Tom is the best
golfer, Dick’s skill is two strokes worse
than Tom’s and Harry is right in between (one stroke worse than Tom).
Here’s why: The Red course is four
strokes more difficult than the Blue,
which follows because Harry scores
four strokes worse on the Red relative
to the Blue. Tom’s 71 on the Red is
only two strokes worse than Dick’s 69
on the Blue, but since there is a four-
stroke difficulty difference in the two
courses, Tom’s skill is two strokes bet-
ter than Dick. When Tom and Harry
play on the same course, Tom always
wins by one stroke, so Tom is one
stroke better than Harry. When Dick
and Harry play on the same course,
Dick always loses by one stroke, so
Harry is one stroke better than Dick.
Our skill-estimation procedure
works in a similar way, but can handle
many golfers and courses. It gives
estimates of golfer skill and course
difficulty when there is variability in
scores. —Mark Broadie
How the Broadie-Rendleman System works How the Broadie-Rendleman System works
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