There’s an old saying at the Masters that “Every putt breaks toward Rae’s Creek.” Of course, that’s preposterous because Augusta National isn’t one giant funnel around a (small) body of water, but people still like to say it. Just like they like to talk about how “putting gets more difficult late in the day.” In contrast, though, that saying is actually true. And now we have some numbers to back it up.
Our buddy Lou Stagner, lead data analyst at Arccos Golf, put together quite the compelling chart that proves it gets more difficult to make putts on the PGA Tour the later in the day it gets. As Stagner points out after culling through data from 2004-2021, this has to do with foot traffic around the hole as well as grass growing back throughout the day.
One could also argue that pressure plays a role here, particularly late on Sunday with the final groups. But regardless, there is clearly a correlation to made putt percentages and the time of day.
So Danny Willett, you’re off the hook for that three-putt from four feet (pictured above) to lose the Fortinet Championship in September! Well, not really. That four-footer was still an 83 percent proposition at that time, down from about 85 percent earlier in the day. But hey, maybe this will make Danny feel (slightly) better.
As is the case with Willett’s 72nd-hole situation, most of these differences from the beginning to end of the day are just a couple percentage points. But again, there’s definitely a difference. And it’s bigger for certain-length putts. On six- and seven-footers, for instance, there’s more than a five-percent(!) drop off throughout the day. Pretty crazy.
And at least one PGA Tour star who finds himself with a lot of late tee times on the weekend has already noticed Stagner’s chart.
“This is fascinating,” tweeted Justin Thomas. “Time of day has a biiiiig difference on how good/bad the greens are. Just defending myself and others when we use it as an excuse.”