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


  • Connolly Robert A.

    (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)

  • Rendleman Richard J.

    (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.

Suggested Citation

  • Connolly Robert A. & Rendleman Richard J., 2011. "Going for the Green: A Simulation Study of Qualifying Success Probabilities in Professional Golf," Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports, De Gruyter, vol. 7(4), pages 1-50, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:bpj:jqsprt:v:7:y:2011:i:4:n:7

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Lazear, Edward P & Rosen, Sherwin, 1981. "Rank-Order Tournaments as Optimum Labor Contracts," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 841-864, October.
    2. Jennifer Brown, 2011. "Quitters Never Win: The (Adverse) Incentive Effects of Competing with Superstars," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 119(5), pages 982-1013.
    3. Hvide, Hans K. & Kristiansen, Eirik G., 2003. "Risk taking in selection contests," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 172-179, January.
    4. Rosen, Sherwin, 1986. "Prizes and Incentives in Elimination Tournaments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 701-715, September.
    5. Jonathan P. Caulkins & Arnold Barnett & Patrick D. Larkey & Yuehong Yuan & Jesse Goranson, 1993. "The On-Time Machines: Some Analyses of Airline Punctuality," Operations Research, INFORMS, vol. 41(4), pages 710-720, August.
    6. Ryvkin, Dmitry, 2010. "The selection efficiency of tournaments," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 206(3), pages 667-675, November.
    7. Fu, Qiang & Lu, Jingfeng, 2009. "The beauty of "bigness": On optimal design of multi-winner contests," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 146-161, May.
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