Pros vs. Joes: What's In The Bag?

After every PGA Tour event, golf fans can view a “What’s In The Bag” for the winner. Hyper-custom shafts and high-tech specs abound.

You can learn that Tiger Woods had a 9.5-degree TaylorMade M3 driver with a Diamana D+ White 70TX shaft when he won his 80th Tour event at East Lake. Even if you can’t relate to the specs played by the pros, you can still glean valuable information from their bag makeups.

In the latest installment of this series with Arccos, we’re looking at a WITB for amateurs and comparing it to the pros. What can you learn from the decisions pros and top amateurs are making with their 14 clubs?

Using the massive Arccos dataset – more than 100 million shots taken during nearly two million rounds – we’re able to analyze the bag makeup of a wide variety of amateur players. Arccos tracks all on-course performance data via sensors installed in the grips of clubs. The system automatically records and analyzes all of a golfer’s stats, uses Artificial Intelligence to show a personalized strategy for every shot, and leverages advanced analytics to inform practice regimens.

Analyzing full bag makeup across all user types, the most common 14 clubs for all amateurs are:

Seems fairly standard. Almost 16% of Arccos users – no matter their handicap – have this composition. Compared to the recent PGA Tour winners, the numbers are similar, but there’s variety in two key spots: the clubs between 3-wood and 4-iron and wedges. Here are the clubs chosen at those key spots for the most recent PGA Tour winners of the 2018 season.

You’ll notice a few things right off the bat. First, there’s only one hybrid in the bunch (Keegan Bradley.) Next, there’s variety across the board in wedge composition, but there are almost always four wedges. Using Arccos data, we found that single-digit handicappers average 3.64 wedges. Comparatively, 20+ handicappers average only 3.23 wedges. This discrepancy may not seem like much, but it clearly shows that the best players – amateur and pro – lean toward having four wedges.

(One of the perks of having Arccos is the ability to easily spot underperforming clubs. A quick look at usage stats could show that you actually are hitting your 5-wood once a round but have a 30-yard gap in your pitching wedge and sand wedge. Easy fix!)

So far Arccos data has compared 4-irons and 4-hybrids, analyzed woods and hybrids for each handicap level and examined a pro’s bag makeup against amateurs. The overarching theme: decisions for each club that earns its way into your bag are personal, and you can only make educated and informed decisions through data. Knowing your shot data – club usage, proximity to the hole, Smart Distance – is available to all Arccos users for every club. Use data to your advantage and begin to see lower scores.

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