The Hole Truth


The Hole Truth

Determining the Greatest Players in Golf Using Sabermetrics

Bill Felber

328 pages
108 tables, 69 charts, index


January 2019


$29.95 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

January 2019


$29.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

January 2019


$29.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

Ever wonder whether Tiger Woods in his prime would have beaten Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan, or Jack Nicklaus in their primes? And could any of them have beaten Babe Zaharias? Obviously, if Bobby Jones were returned to life and health and then given his old hickory-shafted mashie, persimmon-headed driver, and rubber-core ball in a match against Jordan Spieth, the outcome would be foreordained. But what if the impact of the training, equipment, courses, and traveling conditions could be neutralized in order to create a measurement? Now for the first time, questions are answered about the relative abilities of the greatest players in the history of professional golf.  

In The Hole Truth Bill Felber provides a relativistic approach for evaluating and comparing the performance of golfers while acknowledging the game’s changing nature. The Hole Truth analyzes the performances of players relative to their peers, creating an index of exceptionality that automatically factors the changing nature of the game through time. That index is based on the standard deviation of the performances of players in golf’s recognized major championships dating back to 1860. More than two hundred players are rated in comparison with one another, more than sixty of them in detail with profiles providing context on their ranking. For the dedicated golf fan, The Hole Truth is an engaging way to see in the numbers where their favorite golfers rank across eras and where current players like Rory McIlroy and Inbee Park compare to the game’s greats.

Author Bio

Bill Felber is the author of several books, including The Book on the Book: A Landmark Inquiry into Which Strategies in the Modern Game Actually Work; Under Pallor, Under Shadow: The 1920 American League Pennant Race That Rattled and Rebuilt Baseball (Nebraska, 2011); and A Game of Brawl: The Orioles, the Beaneaters, and the Battle for the 1897 Pennant (Nebraska, 2014). He was executive editor at the Manhattan Mercury in Manhattan, Kansas, from 1986 to 2013 and is a former member of the Board of Directors of the Associated Press Managing Editors.


“In golf, only one metric counts: the score. That means if you adapt for dimensional changes over time, you can go from Bobby Jones to Ben Hogan, Babe Zaharias, Arnie, Jack, Mickey Wright, Tiger, and Annika right to today’s stars, Jordan Spieth and Lexi Thompson, match them all up, and rank them. The Hole Truth measures the best players, men and women, of all golf generations and ages, adapting that single metric—the score—to all the various equipment, course, conditioning and weather changes. In The Hole Truth the genders compete on equal terms. Rightly so. That makes this book a must-read for golfers and golf fans who love the game’s metrics, and who are fascinated by discussions regarding how players of yesterday would fare against the greats of today. You’ll be amazed.”—Jim Colbert, eight-time winner on the PGA Tour, winner of the Senior Players Championship, and golf analyst for ESPN

"The Hole Truth is proof that there is indeed truth in numbers, whether you want to believe in them or not."—Pat Ralph, Golf

"Felber covers all eras of golf, both men and women and because the standard deviation is measured for each golfer against his or her peers, a fair comparison can be made between Kathy Whitworth and Bobby Jones, for just one example. There is a measure for each golfer for their career and their peak, which is defined as the best five year stretch. No spoilers here to reveal who ranked at the top of those two categories, but like with any other list, statistical or otherwise, it does produce some expected results, some surprises and a huge source of information that can be used to settle debates. . . . Golf fans will certainly want to add this one to their bookshelves."—Lance Smith, Guy Who Reviews Sports Books

Table of Contents

1. The 3 Percent Game    
2. Dominance and Chance    
3. Tournament Rules    
4. Pioneers    
5. Coming to America    
6. Interwarriors    
7. Bantam Ben and Slammin’ Sam    
8. The King, Some Queens, and a Black Prince    
9. The Golden Bear Market    
10. Metallurgy    
11. Millennials    
12. Still on the Course    

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