Sizing up the Green Jacket for 2017

The 2017 Masters kicks off today and since all golf fans enjoy making a prediction on who will win the first major of the season we have delved into some of the key statistics to try and pick out some potential winners. Looking at the previous years at Augusta National, there are a few statistics that stand out amongst others as being important to having a strong week. The first of these is Average Driving Distance, Augusta has always been a course that favours long hitters and this year will be no different, especially if the wet forecast is to be believed.  A second key stat is average proximity to the hole with approach shots, hitting greens is important at every tournament, however, with the extreme difficulty of getting the ball up and down at Augusta it makes hitting greens paramount. The third and final statistic that will be used to predict this year’s green jacket winner is Par 5 scoring average, the par 5’s at Augusta are all reachable in two and therefore it is imperative that you take advantage of the par 5’s over the week.

It may come as a surprise that a putting statistic is not included when trying to predict this year’s winner, however, putting is actually of less importance at Augusta than it is other weeks on tour. This was shown in 2014 with Bubba Watson not even ranking in the top 10 for putting on his route to victory.

In order to make our predictions, we tallied together the 2017 stat ranking for each player in average driving distance, average proximity to the hole and Par 5 scoring average.

And here are the top 5 predictions from our formula:

Player Driving Distance Proximity to the hole Par 5 Scoring Average Total
Rory Mcilroy 1 6 1 8
Dustin Johnson 2 3 6 11
Sergio Garcia 18 24 13 55
Hideki Matsuyama 23 36 2 61
Jon Rahm 21 20 27 68

Do you think we’ve picked a winner? Let us know who you’re backing for the green jacket in the comments below.

Happy Master week!


– Ally Millar, Commercial Assistant


What makes the 12th at Augusta so difficult?

The 12th hole at Augusta, known as The Golden Bell, is the shortest hole on the course,t measuring just 155-yards. However, what this hole lacks in length, it certainly makes up for in difficulty. The 12th has claimed its fair share of Masters hopefuls over the years and with a stroke average of 3.28 showing just how difficult the world’s elite have found this little par 3. Jack Nicklaus even claimed that the 12th is the hardest hole on tour.

So, what makes this par 3 so difficult? First of all, the hole is protected by water at the front of the green meaning anything short will tumble back down into the water. It has bunkers at the front and back which both leave difficult up and downs. However, the main difficulty of the short par 3 is the tricky swirling winds that it produces, with players finding it almost impossible to judge the direction and speed of the wind. Tiger Woods once stated that he picks how far he wants to hit the ball, selects the club and then hopes he doesn’t get a gust of wind. This shows just how difficult it is to select the right club. However, executing the tee shot is not the end of the difficulty, the green is also one of the hardest on the course to read due to the shade created by the overhanging trees.

It is fair to say that The Golden Bell has provided plenty of drama and unforgettable moments over the years and we look forward to seeing what will unfold at the little par 3 this year.

You still have time to enter the Shot Scope Masters competition over on our Facebook. Just tell us, in the comments on the pinned post, how many birdies you think will be on the 12th at this year’s Masters for your chance to win a Shot Scope!

– Ally Millar, Commercial Assistant

Shooting at high altitude

With the WGC – Mexico Championship being held at Chapultepec Golf Club in Mexico City, there has been greater talk of the effect of altitude on the golf ball than ever before. The Chapultepec Golf Club sits 7,835 feet above sea level at its highest point, thereby making it the highest PGA Tour venue of all time.
Most golfers have an understanding that the ball flies further when playing at altitude and this is true. The ball will carry a greater distance at altitude due to the decrease in air density which therefore makes it easier for the ball to fly through the air. The exact impact on distance is hard to calculate however a rough calculation shows that the ball will fly an extra 9%, compared to sea level, at the Chapultepec Golf Club.
The increase in distance this week was evident in round one with there being 39 drives over 350 yards and a longest drive of 387 yards by Jhonattan Vegas. More startling perhaps though was the distance that irons were being hit, with Dustin Johnson hitting a 2-iron pin high with his tee shot on a 332-yard par 4.
Although many of you will be sitting thinking that an extra 9% distance to your shots would be great, it also comes with its difficulties. Along with the increased distance, the ball also flies at a lower trajectory making the ball harder to stop on the green. On top of this, the altitude also makes clubbing much more difficult as the extra distance you get can depend greatly on the type of shot you hit and the distance each shot goes can vary greatly. The difficulty of clubbing was highlighted by Thomas Pieters who, in practice, hit one 9-iron 190 metres and the next 9-iron 160 metres.
So before everyone starts looking for a new golf course at altitude, just remember, the extra distance also comes with its fair share of difficulties.

– Ally Millar, Commerical Assistant

Ryder Cup : Should the Qualifying Requirements for Team Europe Change?

Ever since Europe lost to the US team in the first time since 2008 at Hazeltine, there have been lots of grumblings as to why? The US team played some phenomenal golf and were the rightful winners but the European team on paper were just as strong if not stronger. The European team consisted of the current Open champion, Olympic gold medalist, the Masters champion and the Fedex Cup Champion surely that’s an unbeatable team, unfortunately they were prove otherwise.

So what happened? Well recently a few players have said that Team Europe needs to re-evaluate how the qualifying system works. This is understandable as somebody might win a tournament early in the season way before the Ryder Cup but that doesn’t mean their current form is worthy. The other defence for the change is that two players within the top 20 in the world did not qualify. This is because in order to automatically qualify for those 9 magic spots, one you need to be a member of the European Tour and two you need to play in events on the European tour to gain enough points.

A lot of people argue that if Paul Casey and Russell Knox really wanted a spot on the team they would have made the sacrifice, but should a player really have to sacrifice tournaments and their career on the PGA Tour for a Ryder Cup place, for a place in a team that they rightfully should already be in?

Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood have both spoken out in favour of a change to the current format. They understand why the tour wants European tour players only but it is difficult when you are missing out on world class European players in America. The Ryder Cup is a world stage tournament so the best players from Europe and USA should be included.

In the end all European players are still from Europe no matter their personal choice on what tour they play on or the country they live in. What tour they play on does not suddenly change their nationality nor does it change their passion for the game and the passion they would show granted a spot representing their continent.

By Rachael McQueen, Community Engagement Executive at Shot Scope

World Super Six Perth – a new era or a one hit wonder?

The big news from the golf world this week comes from down under. The ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia and European Tour announced on Wednesday that the Perth International, which began in 2012, will be replaced by the World Super 6 Perth. The revolutionary new tournament will be held at Lake Karrinyup Country Club from the 16th-19th of February 2017 and will be co-sanctioned by both the PGA Tour of Australasia and the European Tour. There will be a complete format shake up at this event, which has caused quite a stir within the golf industry, with three days of stroke play followed by a final day of six-hole match play.
For the first three rounds nothing much will change – there will be 54 holes of stroke play and the usual 36-hole cut. On the Saturday afternoon, however, there will be a further cut that will leave only the top 24 players to go into the final round on Sunday. Any ties will be sorted out with a play-off and those 24 remaining players will then contest a six-hole match play shootout. This is where the ‘Knockout Hole’ is introduced and will determine the outcome of any matches tied after the six holes have been played. Purpose built for this event, the Knockout Hole is a 90m hole using a new tee that will be positioned adjacent to the 18th fairway and using the 18th green. It will be played only once and, if there is a tie, the players will head back to the tee for a nearest-the-pin shootout to determine the winner. The victor will then go on to the next round of the match play or, in the case of the final match, be crowned the winner of the tournament.
There is every chance that this type of golf tournament will come down to the wire, with nail-biting finales and all-or-nothing performances demanded on the Knockout Hole. It is exactly this drama which has prompted the change, with the hopes to appeal to a wider audience and engage them with this new format. European Tour Chief Executive Keith Pelley has had plans for just such a shake up for a while, announcing in July that they were looking into a six-hole format on the Tour.
Essentially this will be the golfing equivalent of the Rugby7’s – a chance to engage a fresh audience in fast paced and exciting sport.  It has been designed to remain true to golf and its rich history but to also answer calls for innovation to keep the game ‘relevant’ to modern audiences. It is no coincidence that Pelley is one of the frontrunners looking to see the game adapt and develop a shorter format, and this focus is obviously producing results.
The Perth World Super Six will be a different kind of golf, a different kind of test and hopes to attract a different kind of audience. The “aggressive and attacking” style of play is hoped to draw in the younger crowd. But what do the current golfing fans think of it? Over on the Shot Scope Facebook we’ve heard from some of you who think it might be more interesting to play but not, necessarily, to watch… There is only one way to find out, February 19th is marked in the diary and we’ll be waiting to see how this pans out.

Tiger is back.

In reality Rory, Jordan, Day and DJ don’t really matter. Golf belongs to Tiger Woods, and he’s back to claim it.

The Shot Scope team are constantly monitoring the world of golf on social media and when the Tiger Woods comeback story broke completely unannounced yesterday afternoon, everything went crazy.

The surprise comeback tweet blind sided the world of golf after it was widely circulated that Tiger was out of the game for the rest of the season. So, naturally, there are a lot of questions flying around about the return of the Master himself. Will he be the same as before? What clubs will he use? Will he win Majors? The main one on the minds of the Shot Scope team is, will he catch Jack?

Some speculation never hurt anyone, but, in the grand scheme of things, does it really matter? Maybe we should all stick to happily celebrating the return of one of golf’s greatest athletes. Tiger has stalked his way back into the Twitter streams and Facebook newsfeeds of golfers everywhere, ready to take back his position as leader on the course.

Yesterday’s tweet announced his “hope” to return at to competitive golf at the Safeway Open and go on to play a further two tournaments before the end of the season. While this is two weeks after the Ryder Cup there have been some good old fashioned rumours circulating about a Vice Captain pick for Team USA with Woods’ name on it. Tiger’s long suffering rival, Phil Mickelson, thinks this would be good for Woods’ confidence and put him in the ideal place going into the Safeway Open. Mickelson found out about the former world number one’s return to the course during the BMW Championship pro-am at Crooked Stick Golf Club and is delighted to have him back, hoping the two will get paired together at the Safeway Open. He acknowledges that there will be high expectations placed on Woods which perhaps, given his physical condition, won’t be fair and that there will be a lot of hype when he returns to the course.

We’re looking forward to reliving the good old days when Sunday evening golf was a must to catch Tiger on the course and we’ll be watching the upcoming tournaments with bated breath. Just like Phil, we’re hoping that he’ll be playing at the level we’ve all become accustomed to expect from Tiger and that his injury, and the weight of expectation, is a distant concern. When he first came into the game he changed it for the better, making engaging and exciting play the norm and propelling golf to a position of prime time sport. Now that he’s back we’re hoping that there will be another injection of this magic to the game and we cannot wait.

Welcome back Tiger. Golf has been waiting for you.

Team GB for Golfing Gold – Again?

The excitement of the men’s Olympic golf surpassed expectations of even the most enthusiastic golfing fans as Stenson and Rose went head to head on the 18th hole vying for Gold. The last few shots were close to call and even one of Olympic golf’s harshest critics, Rory McIlroy himself, admitted to tuning in to catch the action. With Justin Rose coming out on top for Team GB it was Stenson in second with a silver medal to match his Claret Jug and Matt Kuchar taking bronze home to the US after his final round was 8 under, giving him third position on the podium. This week we’ll still have our eyes firmly fixed on the Olympic Golf Course as the women take to the tee to battle it out for gold, silver and bronze.

The golfers competing for Team GB are Catriona Matthew MBE, who tees off in the second group of the morning at 6:41am and Charley Hull who will take to the tee from 10:09am alongside the World Number 1, and gold medal favourite, Lydia Ko of New Zealand. There hasn’t been an Olympic medal in the women’s game since 1900 and both golfers will be hoping to follow in their teammates footsteps and make it two gold golfing medals for Team GB.

Matthew is an Edinburgh local, just like us, and we’re naturally feeling very supportive! She has beMatthewen a long standing fixture on both the LPGA and Ladies European Tour where she has played since 1994. Matthew has played on the European team in the Solheim Cup multiple times and had a stunning recent performance at the RICOH Women’s’ British Open where, in the second round, she hit all 18 greens in regulation, birdied 7 holes and had the lowest score with -65. Fresh from being awarded a lifetime achievement gong at this year’s Scottish Golf Awards and with the vice-captaincy for next year’s European team’s Solheim Cup campaign confirmed, Matthew is going into the Olympics with experience and talent on her side.

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The 1904 Olympic Underdog

In the run up to Rio 2016 we had a look back at the last men’s Olympic final from 1904 in St Louis. If this story is anything to go by we will certainly have all eyes on Rio.

George S Lyon was a force to be reckoned with. Not that anybody knew that when he took to the tee in the 1904 Games. The 46-year-old Canadian was an insurance salesman, suffered from diabetes and hay fever and was a self-taught golfer who had only been playing for a couple of years. After being a champion pole-vaulter and a keen cricketer Lyon took up golf late in life and, like most of us, “caught the fever there and then” on his first round. George S Lyon was never supposed to win the only Olympic gold medal to be awarded to an individual golfer in history. He was also certainly never supposed to lose said medal, or have it melted down during the Great Depression. But he went on to do both and his stunning performance, both on the course and his celebratory walk to receive the medal, deserve to be remembered in golfing history.

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True Test at Troon

The Open, the oldest major in golf, is set to be held at Royal Troon this week. The championship length is 7,190 yards and is a par 71. The course is host to deceivingly tight fairways, wispy long grass, gorse and tricky pot hole bunkers.

Most people describe Royal Troon as a game of two halves. The front nine gives the impression it is wide open with its lack of trees or gorse but the fairways are lined with tall wispy rough and perfectly placed bunkers to collect any off line tee shot. The back nine on the other hand has more gorse lined fairways especially in the loop 9th, 10th 11th and 12th. There are less bunkers on the back nine 36 bunkers to be exact, versus the 60 bunkers that defend the front nine.

Royal Troon’s most famous hole is the par 3 Postage Stamp. It is the shortest hole in championship golf at a mere 123 yards, but don’t let its length fool you. The tee box is raised above the green making it very open to the elements. If the wind is coming straight off the Firth of Clyde the hole suddenly becomes longer. You have to carry your shot over a grassy gully onto a long but very narrow green. The green is surrounded by five bunkers, one that is rightfully named the Coffin bunker due to its deep but narrow characteristics. This short hole is not a guaranteed par and has seen a few high scores in its Open championship history. In 1997 a young 21-year-old Tiger Woods walked off the 8th green with a triple bogey six after finding a bunker with his tee shot.

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Battle at the Castle

The Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open is returning to Castle Stuart this week. This beautifully fierce course is located in the Scottish Highlands in Inverness and is ready to host some of the best players in the world. This iconic links course looks out onto the Moray Firth and was opened in 2009. Its style and distinguished features were an instant hit and hosted the first ever European tour event in the Scottish Highlands in 2011.

This year will be the 4th time Castle Stuart has hosted the Scottish Open. Due the Scottish Open being held predominately the week before The Open Championship it tends to host a very strong field. These players take advantage of unprecedented practice on a links course, ahead of the 3rd major of the year. Past winners at this venue are Luke Donald (2011), Jeev Milka Singh (2012) and Phil Michelson (2013). Unfortunately, due to a busy schedule the past champion Rickie Fowler will not be returning to Scotland to defend his title. Phil Michelson currently ranked 21st in the world has his eyes set on another win at Castle Stuart. He will be hoping for a less exciting win than 2013 where he uncharacteristically failed to get down in two from just off the green on the 18th, which then forced a play-off with South Africa’s Branden Grace. Both of them shot a total score of 17 under par but Phil came out as the winner defeating Branden on the first play-off hole. This was Michelson’s first individual victory in the U.K.

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