As a graduate student at Sam Houston State University focusing on criminology and corrections, I was required to take a course in research methods.

I became increasingly fascinated as I learned the difference between descriptive and inferential statistics.

I was amazed by measures of central tendency: Mean, median and mode, standard deviation and more, which enticed me to become one of about 20 who signed on — and about 10 who finished — the advanced course in behavioral statistics, where we learned that examination of jail populations and sentencing practices of judges indeed could be used to better understand and perhaps improve the efficiency of the administration of criminal justice.

Imagine my surprise and excitement when I realized that those methods could also be utilized as a part of my arsenal to improve my golf scores. Meticulously documenting each round of golf vis-à-vis fairways hit, greens in regulation, sand saves, putts made and more, I reasoned, would greatly enhance my knowledge and understanding of my shortcomings in the game and help me plot a course for guaranteed game improvement.

Later, Dave Pelz, scientist, reinforced my growing faith in the principles of statistics by reducing golf’s short game to the finest of fine points of interpretation and understanding. Pelz, now based in the Austin area, is the acknowledged short-game guru to many of the best golfers in the world, including Phabulous Phil Mickelson.

Through the years, I have learned that properly collected and analyzed data can result in progress and advancement — both in the field of criminal justice and in golf — but only if the research/analysis is conducted by the most qualified professionals, and only if they are prepared and capable of translating the information in an understandable form to their students. And, only if the students are prepared to listen and learn. As my first golf instructor once said: “You know a lot about the golf swing; unfortunately, you have no clue what you’re doing with a golf club.”

Thank goodness I knew enough about the criminal justice system to successfully complete those courses and earn my advanced degree. As a golfer, I think I’m a 37th-year sophomore.

Aced it

Kevin Prisk lives in Seabrook and now has made a hole-in-one three times.

His most recent ace came during the Bayou Golf Club Senior Scramble July 23 at Moody Gardens.

As Loren Lance, Cliff Robinson and Jim Hiles looked on, Prisk nailed a 7-iron at the sixth hole, and settled the ball into the bottom of the cup 150 yards away.

Be safe, on and off the course.

Gean Leonard is a columnist for The Daily News and can be reached at

(1) comment

Dan Freeman

Thanks for the kudos to statistics. I hope it helps you understand the club.

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