Saturday, August 26, 2006

But He's Still Not Leading, or Likely to Win the Tourney - Consistency Outweighs Luck Over the Long Haul

Over at Think of England last month, there was a discussion about whether getting a hole-in-one while golfing was more due to luck, or to skill: A golfing tragedy

Now comes a story which sheds some light on that question.

Miyazato Aces Two Holes in Same Round
Japanese Golfer First to Manage Feat on PGA Tour

RENO, Nev. (Aug. 25) - Japan's Yusaku Miyazato became the first golfer to make two holes-in-one in the same round of a U.S. PGA Tour tournament when he aced a pair of par 3s Friday at the Reno-Tahoe Open. [...]

Bob Tway had two aces in the same tournament at the Memorial in 1993 and Glen Day did the same at the Greater Hartford Open the same year, but Tour officials said they could find no record of any golfer on tour who pulled it off on the same day. [...]

[Miyazato] had one previous hole-in-one and was "very excited" when he holed out the first one on Friday. [...]
"But the second time, it was really unbelievable. I couldn't believe it," Miyazato said. [...]

Because of the undulating nature of the greens, he didn't see either drop in the cup. The crowd let him know the first was an ace.

On No. 12, the gallery was sparse so he was expecting it had hit the pin but bounced away.
"When I went to the green, I was surprised," he said. [...]

PGA officials had Miyazato sign the two Tour Stage golf balls he used, which they planned to send to the World Golf Hall of Fame in St. Augustine, Florida...

I read that as: Pros are far more likely to get aces than are casual players, so skill is definitely a factor, but it's still unusual, and therefore it's mostly luck.


Blogger Peter Burnet said...

I take it what you are saying is that holes in one are more likely for those who are good at hitting the ball straight and hard. Oro, finally we agree on something!

This is you over at TOE: "Skill" involves a repeatable outcome that happens with frequency...

Why repeatable? According to that thinking, world records in the 100 metre dash are matters of luck while five-way ties for seventh place are pure skill.

August 26, 2006 11:29 AM  
Blogger Oroborous said...

Actually, I'd argue that single-event world records are largely a matter of luck, on top of skill of course.

Otherwise, world records would be set everytime a sport's elites gather, right ?
But such record-setting efforts need exactly the right combinations of conditions to occur. Many variables are completely outside the control of the event participants.

The effects of chance on one's efforts is the very definition of "luck", good or ill.

But I don't demand that skill can only be shown through repetition of outcome. What I'm thinking is that skill involves control, and that control usually leads to precise outcomes.

August 26, 2006 1:06 PM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...

I think you are making the mistake of equating the notion of skill with conscious intention or perhaps limiting it to the realm of the reasonably forseeable. Under your theory, the skillful athlete who surprises even himself passes from the world of skill to luck by definition. And you call yourself an American!

Let's reverse it. Does the championship poker player who sets out consciously to get two royal flushes in a row do so by skill if he succeeds, especially if he once did it before?

Even Frankie-boy understood the difference between "Luck be a lady with me" and "The Impossible Dream".

Of course, if you want to throw out the notion of divine assistance, I'm up for it, but I wouldn't dream of starting without Harry.

August 26, 2006 3:37 PM  
Blogger Oroborous said...

Most endeavors, even prosaic ones like driving, involve both luck and skill in varying ratios.

Now, it's true that fortune or chance favors the prepared, but I'm unwilling to say that every outcome of a skilled person's performance attempt is due to skill alone.
So, yes, the skillful athlete who surprises even himself often does pass from the world of skill to that of luck. The skill is a necessary precondition for the luck to matter, but such doesn't mean that luck plays no part.

In the instance of holes-in-one, if skill is all that matters, then why are they so rare ?

In the instance of the championship poker player who sets out consciously to get two royal flushes in a row, skill at playing poker definitely affects her chances of doing so, as she analyzes which cards to discard, and whether she should abandon the attempt and settle for a lesser but more probable hand.
But, playing poker is predominantly a game of chance, where skill plays an important but lesser role. Most of the real skill in poker play involves betting decisions, and not so much card management.

In any case, if you do not limit "skill" to the realm of the reasonably forseeable, then what you call skill, I'd call skill + luck. The baseball player who often hits home runs has "skill" at hitting, but if he points to a specific section of the crowd, and actually knocks it to them, then I'd call that "luck" - unless he can do it over and over.

August 26, 2006 6:58 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home