Whose game best fits Augusta National?

Words by
Dan Davies
Whose game best fits Augusta National?

Who is going to win the Masters? To sprinkle some additional spice into your pre-Masters debates for 2024, we’ve taken a fresh look at this through the lens of Clippd’s data insights.

Debating the merits of different players is one of the joys of the build-up to the first major of the season, especially when seasoned golf fans feel they have a firm grasp on the peculiar demands of Augusta National through years of watching the tournament on TV. 


To analyse what is needed to play well at Augusta, we have used a slight variation on Clippd’s Importance to Scoring methodology. Our usual Importance to Scoring methodology provides a way of measuring the impact that different areas of the game have on a player’s scoring. 

For example, if a player tends to score better when their Shot Quality with the driver is high and scores poorly when their Shot Quality with the driver is low, then their driving is likely to achieve a high Importance to Scoring measure.

Our data science team has created a profile for success at Augusta

Typically, our Importance to Scoring looks at a player’s on course performance in different facets of the game during a round and how they affect scoring for that round. For our Masters analysis, however, we have looked at player’s profiles coming into each of the last six Masters Tournaments and analysed how skill level (as measured by Player Quality) in each facet of the game relates to their eventual tournament performance. 

For example, if players who had high Player Quality scores for 8-15ft putts coming into the Masters played very well, this area of the game would show up high on our alternate Importance to Scoring metric.

By analysing all the available tournament round data on players competing in the last six Masters Tournaments, our data science team has created a profile for success at Augusta. It’s important to note, however, that we do not have data for LIV golfers.

Importance to Scoring

We have analysed this PGA Tour and DP World Tour data leading up to each Masters Tournament dating back to 2018 to define the percentage Importance to Scoring of the four parts of the game – Off The Tee (OTT), Approach (APP), Around the Green (ARG) and Putting (PUTT). Further to that, we have defined the key skills within each category.

We have included the 2020 Masters, which was played in November due to the pandemic and therefore presented a notably different test, one that placed a larger than usual importance on the driver. This, then, is the Importance to Scoring breakdown coming into the Masters for the last six years.

Given the undulations around Augusta National’s famous greens, it is perhaps no great surprise to see the larger than usual Importance to Scoring of Around The Green performance, which is around double that for TPC Sawgrass, for example. Players who have performed well at the Masters in this six-year period have been noticeably stronger in their Around the Green play coming into the tournament. 

The most important skills

At Clippd, we break down a player’s What To Work On priority list into 15 different categories, based on shot distances, shots with different types of club off the tee, or from different lies around the green. 

For this exercise, we have included Around the Green from Rough in our analysis even though there is no rough around the greens at Augusta, only second cut. This is because this skill is an indicator of short game form.

Using the available tournament data for players in the fields of the last six Masters Tournaments, this the detailed breakdown ofthe most important skills coming into Augusta National.

Whose game fits the profile?

To create a top-20 list (minus LIV players), we have taken a weighted average of all Player Quality values for each player. The weighting is based on the Importance to Scoring breakdown above that we have calculated for the previous six Masters Tournaments. A Player Quality of 100 represents male tour average.

For example, a golfer’s Player Quality for approach shots from 140-180 yards makes up 20% of the player’s total weighted Player Quality values because this was the Importance to Scoring percentage over the last six Masters. We have rounded numbers up or down, hence players on the same Player Quality score being listed higher or lower than others.

So here is Clippd's Top-20 list coming into this year's Masters Tournament

1. Scottie Scheffler 108

2. Xander Schauffele 106

3. Justin Thomas 105

4. Stephan Jaeger 105

5. Tony Finau 105

6. Hideki Matsuyama 105

7. Wyndham Clark 105

8. Tommy Fleetwood 104

9. Matt Fitzpatrick 104

10. Lucas Glover 104

11. Russell Henley 104

12. Si Woo Kim 104

13. Sahith Theegala 104

14. Chris Kirk 104

15. Taylor Moore 103

16. Denny McCarthy 103

17. Shane Lowry 103

18. Rory McIlroy 103

19. Akshay Bhatia 103

20. Ludvig Aberg 103

Enjoy the Masters!