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Best TT Player on PGA Tour - Rating?

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    Posted: 02/03/2018 at 3:36pm
This is Matt Kuchar, top professional golfer, bronze medalist at '16 Rio Olympics.  Said to be the top TT player on the PGA Tour.  Jim Butler height.  Very talented golfer and athlete, but what of his TT skills?  They look rudimentary to me, similar to the better guys in the dorm rec room, like I (a mere USATT 1200) could even hang with him.  But maybe people who know a lot more about TT than me will see something different.  What do you think?



Edited by Justa1200 - 02/03/2018 at 3:51pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Odie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02/03/2018 at 9:19pm
Here is another video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5fSXH3YUOSM

Hard to be accurate, but probably ~1400?
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He looks a little better in the second video you posted.  It can be hard to tell when you get down as low as people like Kuchar and I (USATT 1200) are.  I've seen some people in clubs and tournaments who could barely sustain a rally and had terrible form, but had a really good serve or two or a nice chop and could hang with the 1500-1600s.  But frankly, I've seen scrubs like me who were 1000-1300-ish who seemed to put more spin on the ball and had better forehands or backhands than Kuchar.  He doesn't seem to understand the concept of spin and appears to be using sort of a Walmart-style racket combo.

There's no denying the guy's a great athlete, of course got bronze at the last Olympics, has been in the world top 20 in rankings for eight years.  But if the purportedly best TT player on the PGA tour would get smoked by 3 out of 4 guys at the average club, not too good.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pgpg Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02/03/2018 at 11:55pm
Originally posted by Justa1200 Justa1200 wrote:

He looks a little better in the second video you posted.  It can be hard to tell when you get down as low as people like Kuchar and I (USATT 1200) are.  I've seen some people in clubs and tournaments who could barely sustain a rally and had terrible form, but had a really good serve or two or a nice chop and could hang with the 1500-1600s.  But frankly, I've seen scrubs like me who were 1000-1300-ish who seemed to put more spin on the ball and had better forehands or backhands than Kuchar.  He doesn't seem to understand the concept of spin and appears to be using sort of a Walmart-style racket combo.

There's no denying the guy's a great athlete, of course got bronze at the last Olympics, has been in the world top 20 in rankings for eight years.  But if the purportedly best TT player on the PGA tour would get smoked by 3 out of 4 guys at the average club, not too good.

Out of curiosity, how would best golf player among USATT Top 150 do at a typical country club golf tourney? I think it's reasonable to assume that dedicated pros spend most of their time practicing their sport, not doing multiball at the local TT club Wink

Given niche nature of TT in the US, it's hard to expect high level of TT skill at any randomly defined population group, even including pro athletes. I've read somewhere (Larry Hodges' blog?) that someone on Baltimore Orioles baseball team is ~1800 level, but that's probably as good as it gets.

USATT: ~1800
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Justa1200 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02/04/2018 at 8:52am
Originally posted by pgpg pgpg wrote:

Out of curiosity, how would best golf player among USATT Top 150 do at a typical country club golf tourney? I think it's reasonable to assume that dedicated pros spend most of their time practicing their sport, not doing multiball at the local TT club Wink

Great point.  I'm guessing the best among the USATT top 150, or the top 150 in the world, wouldn't be as good as the average country club golfer in the U.S.  Golf is the only sport I was ever good at, at peak, got to top 5% of handicaps (something like a 2200 or so in USATT lingo), but it took five years of practice to get there and I could never seem to get better than that no matter the level of practice or new equipment.  Thought golf was just so tough until I tried TT.  Wow!  Every bit as tough to master.

TT and golf are the ultimate precision sports, a few degrees of angle can be the difference between the perfect shot and disaster.  You don't almost invariably become good at either because you happen to be 6'-8", are stronger than 99.9% of the population, or can run a 4.3 40.  They're about complex strategy, thousands of hours of practice and grooving highly repeatable form.  All about the skill, not the speed or brawn.  So understandable that athletes in either sport would not have the time to master the other sport that takes sooo much time to learn.  

Originally posted by pgpg pgpg wrote:

Given niche nature of TT in the US, it's hard to expect high level of TT skill at any randomly defined population group, even including pro athletes.

True.  So there are probably a couple dozen or so guys on the pro golf tour who play TT for recreation and cardio, and Kuchar's the best among them, but probably has no idea how good a club TT player really is, just like if the top TT pros in China started playing golf for fun (a niche sport in China) and developed crude, homegrown swings, the top guy over there probably wouldn't have a clue about real club golf. 

Originally posted by pgpg pgpg wrote:

I've read somewhere (Larry Hodges' blog?) that someone on Baltimore Orioles baseball team is ~1800 level, but that's probably as good as it gets.

Read about that too some years ago, I guess the guy'd played a ton of TT with his family growing up and was able to use his natural reflexes and hand/eye coordination to play a pretty good game.  Read that Larry was toying around with the guy and he was hanging right in there with him, so Larry had to play a few 2000+ tricks on him to put him away.  Even I've experienced that, was playing a USATT 2000 once in a tourney and won a legit point off him, a great rally and I punctuated it with a half-joking, finger-pointing "Ha--take that!"  The next serve, guy kind of smirks at me and absolutely rips this speed serve and the ball just explodes into my chest before I can even react.  So I guess those good players hold a lot in reserve even when they're beating people like me 11-3, 11-2, 11-3.


Edited by Justa1200 - 02/04/2018 at 9:14am
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800 tops
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Justa1200 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02/04/2018 at 6:14pm
Could be right on that 800 guess.  No telling, but definitely not average club level, even in the U.S.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pongfugrasshopper Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02/04/2018 at 6:43pm
Originally posted by RG_Long_Island RG_Long_Island wrote:

800 tops

Come on now... give him a little credit.  Tough to say from such a short video, but I'd guess 1000-1299.
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The paddles that they used look like the same as the recently concluded World Ping Pong Championships in England.

Sand paper on both side and with same color.
Could give lower rated TT players problems.
Against TT players with inverted on both side - he may give a 1000 rated player a run for the money.

Estimated rating:  1000.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote larrytt Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02/06/2018 at 12:29am
Originally posted by pgpg pgpg wrote:

Given niche nature of TT in the US, it's hard to expect high level of TT skill at any randomly defined population group, even including pro athletes. I've read somewhere (Larry Hodges' blog?) that someone on Baltimore Orioles baseball team is ~1800 level, but that's probably as good as it gets.
Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy (who just retired this off-season) is at least 1800, probably closer to 1900. (With a month of regular play at a good club, probably 2000.) I gave him a one-hour lesson, then he played matches. Against me (about 2200 at the time) I struggled some games and had to pull out some tricky serves, and he made it to 11-9 one game, and most of the other games he was getting 7 or 8. Then he played an 1808 player, couldn't return the serve at first (he'd never seen a good tomahawk serve), and lost the first two games close, then figured out the serve, and won deuce in the fifth. Then he played Nathan Hsu (2500) and got to deuce one game. (Nathan was playing for real, but wasn't expecting a contest, and kept giving me looks that said, "Is he really that good?") JJ's for real - very good angling blocker and counter-hitter, efficient smash, decent loop, and surprisingly good serves that gave everyone fits - a tricky forehand pendulum serve that he always did from his forehand side. (His dad taught him to play.) I'm pretty sure he's the best table tennis player among professional athletes in other sports, at least in the U.S. 

Another one who is good is former Orioles center fielder Brady Anderson (now an Oriole VP), who is about 1600, and has been playing with JJ for years, which is how he reached that level. I also gave him a one-hour lesson. (He and JJ came to MDTTC for an afternoon.) The Orioles have a table in their clubhouse and they have been playing constantly for years. (I did an exhibition in their clubhouse with MDTTC junior players, and then hit with the players afterwards, including Manny Machado.) One of the other regulars is reliever Darren O'Day, who took about ten one-hour lessons from me, and was pushing Brady at the end - about 1500. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote larrytt Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02/06/2018 at 12:32am
Originally posted by Justa1200 Justa1200 wrote:

This is Matt Kuchar, top professional golfer, bronze medalist at '16 Rio Olympics.  Said to be the top TT player on the PGA Tour.  Jim Butler height.  Very talented golfer and athlete, but what of his TT skills?  They look rudimentary to me, similar to the better guys in the dorm rec room, like I (a mere USATT 1200) could even hang with him.  But maybe people who know a lot more about TT than me will see something different.  What do you think?

Orioles shortstop JJ Hardy would beat both of them with ease - it wouldn't be close. If you have good serves, he's probably 1800. If you don't, then he's 1900, and pushing 2000. See my other posting on this. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Justa1200 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02/06/2018 at 10:37am
Thanks for posting and giving your opinion.  Cool to see TT royalty here.  

I thought his game looked off, very basic near beginner, but since I never got anything better than minimally competent at TT (if you consider a 1200 whose absolute peak was 1300 "minimally competent"--not sure I even reached that basic level), figured maybe I was missing something.  

Think I read somewhere, years ago, that Kuchar said he wasn't near the level he played in golf, but that he was "about the equivalent of a 1 handicap in ping pong."  I know golf and used to be a pretty fair player, wife played college golf and I could've somewhere (just not at the D1 university I attended), a 1 handicap in that sport is a 99th percentile golfer.  I have to think a 99th percentile TT player, at least USATT, would be something like 2300 - 2400, right?  Kuchar is maybe half that, not even 30th percentile--just my semi-educated guess.


Edited by Justa1200 - 02/06/2018 at 10:40am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pgpg Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02/06/2018 at 10:50am
Originally posted by Justa1200 Justa1200 wrote:

Thanks for posting and giving your opinion.  Cool to see TT royalty here.  

I thought his game looked off, very basic near beginner, but since I never got anything better than minimally competent at TT (if you consider a 1200 whose absolute peak was 1300 "minimally competent"--not sure I even reached that basic level), figured maybe I was missing something.  

Think I read somewhere, years ago, that Kuchar said he wasn't near the level he played in golf, but that he was "about the equivalent of a 1 handicap in ping pong."  I know golf and used to be a pretty fair player, wife played college golf and I could've somewhere (just not at the D1 university I attended), a 1 handicap in that sport is a 99th percentile golfer.  I have to think a 99th percentile TT player, at least USATT, would be something like 2300 - 2400, right?  Kuchar is maybe half that, not even 30th percentile--just my semi-educated guess.

He could be correct if only describing recreational 'ping pong' players, the kind you see in people's basements, bars, dorms etc.

Obviously nowhere even close to 'handicap 1' for the club crowd that hangs out here.
USATT: ~1800
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Justa1200 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02/06/2018 at 2:27pm
Originally posted by pgpg pgpg wrote:

[QUOTE=Justa1200]He could be correct if only describing recreational 'ping pong' players, the kind you see in people's basements, bars, dorms etc.

Obviously nowhere even close to 'handicap 1' for the club crowd that hangs out here.

That's true, and almost certainly, those are the types of players to whom Kuchar's exposed, so that's all he knows.  And even his rudimentary form is better than average in that crowd, at least it approximates, vaguely, proper form.  But the serious golf crowd: those who join a club, join the USGA, get a handicap, and find a pro for lessons, are pretty well the equivalent of club and tournament table tennis players who bother to get USATT ratings--and those dedicated golfers are the ones he'd be using as a gauge for making statements about relative handicaps and abilities.  

The sport of golf has its own recreational golfers who are the equivalent of the basement/bar/rec room crowd and run under the handicap radar: those who only play at corporate outings a couple times a year, executives who don't have time to practice, and play to talk business and close deals, and the crowd that gluts courses on weekends who head out once or twice a month as an excuse to avoid Saturday chores.  That crowd typically plays only with like-minded players who can't break 100 on their best day, either.  Got behind such a group last week, and they had golf swings the equivalent of the awkward swipes you see at the rec room.  Those people never get much better, because golf's just a ride in a cart and several beers for them, they have no desire to perfect good form or establish an official handicap.  

The only difference between the recreational golf crowd and the recreational table tennis crowd is the golfers in this country have seen good golf and good form because they play on the same field as the experts--they know they're scrubs, while the basement table tennis crowd lives in this delusion of grandeur because most have never set foot on the same playing field as the experts.  It was always fun, when I played tournament TT, to go by the dorms occasionally and lay waste to those guys who were kings over there.  Once had a person look at me and ask "Are you a pro?"  But I had to tell them "Heck, I'm not even a very good amateur!"  Of course, when I went to USATT tournaments, 75% of the people could eat me for lunch.


Edited by Justa1200 - 02/06/2018 at 4:46pm
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