Going for the Green: A Simulation Study of Qualifying Success Probabilities in Professional Golf

Robert A. Connolly 1  and Richard J. Rendleman Jr. 2
  • 1 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • 2 Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Each year, over 1,300 golfers attempt to qualify for the PGA TOUR through Q-School. Using simulation, we estimate the probabilities that Q-School correctly identifies high-skill golfers. We show that players with skill equivalent to the very best on the PGA TOUR would have high probabilities of qualifying, but others, equal in skill to many active PGA TOUR members, would have low odds of qualifying. We explore the impact of variations in Q-school structure on qualifying probabilities for players with different skill levels, but most of the variations that improve tournament efficiency are largely impractical.

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JQAS, an official journal of the American Statistical Association, publishes research on the quantitative aspects of professional and collegiate sports. Articles deal with subjects as measurements of player performance, tournament structure, and the frequency and occurrence of records. Additionally, the journal serves as an outlet for professionals in the sports world to raise issues and ask questions that relate to quantitative sports analysis.