Separating the Signal From the Noise With Ernie Els

With the 2019 Presidents Cup coming up this December, the world gets to witness SAP Ambassador Ernie Els — affably nicknamed The Big Easy — take his beautiful smooth style and apply it to captaining rather than his swing.

Els has taken the helm as the captain of the International Team, facing off against the U.S. Team in Australia. To help him achieve victory, SAP and the 15th Club partnered with Els to provide valuable insights so that his team comes out on top. But just how does one help a great captain using only data?

To demonstrate some of the ways that SAP and the 15th Club help a captain, here’s the first ever masterclass on the subject by Ernie Els himself, as he teaches three fictional captains — including a special appearance from Stanley Cup-winning NHL player TJ Oshie — to deal with their sometimes strange but real problems, using his sage advice.

Check out the video to learn the steps to becoming a master captain:

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To understand how to make someone a great captain with data, you have to understand that Els’ job is not to improve these players swings or to change how they play. These are the top players in the world, and they work with their own coaches to enhance their game. Rather, his job is to pick the best team — not for skill level, but how they play together so that he can create the most effective matchups.

That’s where SAP and the 15th Club come in. Using data, we provide stats covering how certain players hit exact shots under specific conditions. So if Els wants the best player that keeps it low in the wind or plays a perfect high fade, he’ll know exactly who to pick — and who to send back to the clubhouse to ruminate and sip piña coladas while the optimized team plays it out.

But data in golf can be a slippery slope, with thousands of variables and data points, some as valuable as others are red herrings. The reality is that only about five percent of these data sets help with game improvement. The other 95 percent are just noise, waiting to distract well-intentioned but misguided golfers.

SAP and the 15th Club have spent years identifying critical data sets, as well as worthless ones, and serving only the most valuable information to Els in visual ways, so that he can make smart decisions quickly and effectively. It can’t predict his players’ future rounds, but it can give him a pretty good idea.

Data in golf is trending; used well, it can be an important tool in any golfer’s bag. Having a partner who can give you the best insights and metrics beyond the competition is the most important tool in a captain’s bag. Otherwise, you end up plugged in the “data sand trap,” hacking away, trying to dig up an insight — and watching your score skyrocket. That’s where SAP comes in.

This December, check out Ernie Els and the International Team as they head into the Presidents Cup, ready to take on the challenge with the best insights.