Improving your golf game is all about figuring out where to start. Lowering your scores may require more than the occasional lesson on the practice ground and requires information found in the collection of your personal golf stats.
Often, when I ask people how their games are going, I receive a mix of responses. Sometimes comments are on the negative side of the scale, such as I played terrible golf today, I hit it sideways, I cannot hit the fairways, I always miss the greens to the left, I cannot get out of the bunker and I three putt all the time. On the flip side, I do hear positive comments as well, such as my short putting is good, I am hitting the fairway most of the time, my iron play has improved and I am hitting my short chips close to the hole.
My question in relation to these comments is: How do you know?
The above comments are all subjective. They are based on feelings and perceptions of how we think we are playing and are not quantifiable. We are human and as such we can analyse outcomes based on our feelings, thoughts and perception. When it comes to golf, this can be dangerous. It can lead us to think we are not improving and it can erode our confidence over time. It pulls us away from vital processes that are helpful in keeping us grounded in the moment of each shot and hole. Subjective thinking can lead us to make false statements about our games much like the ones listed above.
How do you know you are hitting, chipping, pitching or putting poorly? What are you comparing it to? How are you measuring these areas of your game? If you have an injury and go for a physical assessment with a physiotherapist, they will look at your symptoms, measure their severity, diagnose the problem and prescribe exercises. They gather information and form a starting point. From here they will formulate a plan for you to execute and then measure improvement against the starting point. Why not do the same for your golf game? Why not gather statistical data and have a PGA professional help you asses and determine where to go and how to get there?
Golf Stats- The Evidence
To start the golf improvement process, we need evidence. Objective, non-biased information that we can draw from to make the necessary changes to improve our scoring on the golf course. Tour players use statistical analysis to determine their strengths and weaknesses. They also use the information to formulate strategic course plans based on how they are playing. The stats they use are extremely detailed and most club golfers do not need that amount of detail to find out what is really happening in their games.
What Golf Stats Should I Record?
The basic golf stats that can be measured are:
- Fairways hit from the tee (excluding par 3’s). Can be written as “FW”
- Greens in regulation. This means hitting the green and having 2 putts or more for a par. Can be written at “GIR”
- Putts per Green in Regulation. Can be written as “PGIR”
- Total Putts. Can be written as “P”
- Up and Downs for Par (not in a bunker). Can be written as “UD”
- Bunker Up and Downs (Greenside). Can be written as “BUD”
Greens in Regulation- Important Consideration
- For the Greens in Regulation stat I advise golfers who cannot get within 20m of the green for regulation (on most of the holes) to count a green in regulation based on their handicap. Example: A 36 handicap golfer gets 2 shots on each hole to count as their par. A par 4 becomes a par 6. If they hit that par 4 in 4 shots or less, it is a green in regulation.
- If you are off a higher handicap and have the length to reach most of the holes, then record this stat as per normal i.e. A Par 4 must be hit in 2 or less. This way you still maintain a realistic perspective of your short game.
Putts Per Green Hit in Regulation- What it means
- For every green you hit in regulation it is important to know how many putts you are having. The average for this statistic is 2 putts. The lower the better. Anything over this number means you are having three putts and bogies. Anything under this number means you are having 1 putts and birdies.
How Do I Record My Golf Stats?
There are numerous golf statistic apps and programs out in the market including: Shots-to-Hole and Get Real Golf Stats. These apps vary in price and detail. For those of you who do not want to be concerned with an app, you can always keep your stats the old fashioned way: with an extra scorecard or a note pad.
Start by gathering information on your next 10 rounds. Patterns will begin to form and you will have the information needed to determine how you are going to start your golf improvement process.
As you begin keeping stats for your own game, I would like you to keep in mind the PGA Tour averages for the above statistics. It is important to have realistic expectations when analysing your golf stats. The below stats are from the current 2018 season through to The Masters tournament for the 1st and 100th ranked players in each of the categories (www.pgatour.com). Knowing what the best players in the world are doing can help you to manage your expectations in regards to your own stats.
Fairways Hit Percentage
Player ranked 1. 80.38% Player ranked 100. 61.32%
Greens in Regulation Percentage
Player ranked 1. 74.72 % Player ranked 100. 66.22%
Up and Down for Par Percentage
Player ranked 1. 70.12% Player ranked 100. 59.15%
Greenside Bunker Up and Down for Par Percentage
Player ranked 1. 78.57% Player ranked 100. 51.52%
Total Putts Per Round
Player ranked 1. 27.15 Player ranked 100. 29.08
Putts Per Green in Regulation
Player ranked 1. 1.673 Player ranked 100. 1.777
Keeping your stats may be a daunting task at first. Remember that the more you do it, the easier it will become. With objective information comes the power to own your own game. You will see your strengths and weaknesses and be able to make informed decisions on what areas to practice to improve your scoring ability.
Keep in mind that statistical analysis in golf can become very detailed. As your scores become lower, other statistics will need to be added. Elite players will need a deeper, more detailed analysis of their games compared to the weekend club golfer. Start small and have fun with it.
Keep an eye out for my next article which will show you what short game shots and distances (based on varying handicap levels) you need to be practicing to lower your scores.
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