An Outside The Box Proposal
Continued (page 3 of 3)
"We're trying to add to the dialogue some evidence-based analysis," he said. "The powers that be may have their reasons for adding bias, but it would be nice to know [that] if it's biased, how much is the bias. They may decide they want that. You can make an argument that if you're designing a ranking system, it should have higher weights. But we are not. We're trying to figure out if there is bias and if there is, how much is there. What we found was a huge bias against PGA Tour players."
Representatives of the OWGR dismiss the idea that the rankings are biased. Greer and Barker defend the point-allocation system this way: "The OWGR is better and more accurate today than it was 10 years ago due to the constant review of the system by the technical committee, which has enabled the Board to improve and refine the system to account for the ever changing structure of world golf.
"... The OWGR system," contined the Greer-Barker email, "is not based on mathematical science, but has evolved and is regulated by constant expertise from those closely in touch with the major championships and tours who are represented on the Technical Committee and advise the Board, which has the sole responsibility on making any changes to the ranking structure."
Greer and Barker point to the fact that the PGA Tour is represented on the OWGR board and technical committee. "The PGA TOUR has strong representation on the Board and on the Technical Committee and would not countenance such an imbalance," their note reads. They rightly point out that the current top 20 in the OWGR includes only one player who is not a playing member of the PGA Tour.
Greer and Barker also point out that the Broadie-Rendleman system has not been presented for academic review, but Broadie does not believe that will be an issue. "When we publish the equations, everybody will be able to do it too," he says. "It's not like we invented something, we just applied known statistical methodology to this data."
The PGA Tour's Ty Votaw, executive vice president of communications and international affairs, says the PGA Tour is looking at the Broadie/Rendleman study. "We feel the insights Dr. Broadie and Dr. Rendleman presented are very interesting and worth further study, and based on the results of the peer review of the professors' work, we will share that paper with the OWGR Technical Committee for analysis," he wrote in an email to Golf World.
Non-committal, certainly, but still more credence than golf's power structure has ever given a critic of the OWGR. Broadie already has the earned cachet of being the author of the most enlightening putting statistic ever. He and Rendleman are not lightweights.
What the professors see is the potential to make the OWGR fair, free of arbitrariness and presumably more clear-cut. McCormack began the idea of a world golf ranking four decades ago with a warning: "Since this was a year of argument, let me start one." That same argument has continued all the way through last week. Of course, no ranking system, especially one governing a sport with as much parity as we see today in professional golf, will ever be free of those arguments. But a system infused with new scientific rigor, a system based on an increasingly global game, a system rooted in logic and not arbitrary proclamation, sounds like McCormack 2.0. The arguments he warned about won't go away, but they just might be better informed.