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There is usually a gap between the wave you are playing now and the level you want to achieve. Usually those goals are centered around the scoring milestones of breaking 80, 90 and 100. What I have found in my own game and many others is that there are often unrealistic expectations. Probably the scoring level you want to achieve doesn't seem like what you think. In this article I will share some statistics that will likely ease the pressure you put on your golf game.
There is no such thing as perfection
Before becoming a scratch golfer, my goal for a long time was to break the 80 consistently. Unfortunately, I assumed I had to play perfectly to get there.
If I made a few mistakes earlier in my lap, it would diminish my mental state for the rest of the day. The pressure to make up for the "mistakes" (which were actually reasonable results) overshadowed my ability to remain patient.
I know I'm not alone in this, because I see the same kind of behavior in almost every golfer I play with. No one really puts us down and explains what shooting an 85 is like.
The good news is that no matter what you hope for in your game, I can tell you with complete certainty that you can get there by doing the following:
Most of the fairways are missing
You drive considerably less than 250 meters
Majority of greens are missing from regulations
Usually two wells
Do not go up and down more than 70% of the time
Note most of the words I used there – missing, fail and less than. They are all negative in nature. I try to stay positive about most things to do with golf, but the truth is you can make a lot of mistakes and still achieve your goals. That's why I made my 2/3 rule.
What does golf look like based on scoring level?
Over the past decade, technology has done an excellent job of disenchanting golf. Much of the old anecdotal (and sometimes inaccurate) information about the game has been replaced with reliable data that gives us great insights into all parts of the game.
One area, in particular, that I've focused on is golfers' performance based on scoring level. Around 2014, several companies started building GPS technology that allowed golfers to tag their shots while they played. For the first time ever, we could see the kind of statistical analysis available to PGA Tour players through ShotLink, but to everyday golfers. When the collected data came in, there were some interesting insights.
While traditional statistics are not always the best measure of golfer's performance, they do shed a lot of light on what is going on in the general golf audience. The following data is from GAME GOLF and taken from their database of tens of millions of golf shots from players around the world.
Wells / hole
I've used metrics just below the significant milestones to provide some general insights. Since these are averages there will always be exceptions to the rule, but allow me to present you with a few key ideas.
You Don't Need Huge Distance – We've seen an explosion of power in professional golf, but that hasn't translated as much as you might think to the recreational level. Golfers who break the 80 generally don't ride more than 230 yards from the tee. There's no question that increasing the distance will help you hit lower scores, and I gave some tips in this article, but please give up the idea of bombing it off the tee!
Fairways aren't everything – if you're missing a fairway don't worry. This is one of the most misleading statistics out there. The key to improvement is to avoid problems off the tee. Missing a fairway in the rough while still having a clear shot to the green is actually a good thing! This article will take a look at a tee shot strategy and here's a way to track your success from the tee instead of using fairways hit.
Greens in regulation are vital – of all the traditional statistics out there, I always tell golfers to focus on GIR. If you want to hit your lowest scores, you have to hit more greens per round. Your chances of posting a lower score on a particular hole drop drastically if you can get the ball onto the pit with your approach shot. However, you can still miss more than 50% greens on your round and get great scores.
Putting Is Not the Big Separator – Because putting putts from beyond five to eight feet is so difficult, this is one part of the game where golfers cannot distinguish themselves well by scoring level. Putts per hole can be a misleading stat, but in general you can see that there is no big difference with a golfer breaking just 100 with one breaking 80. I think putting is much more about avoiding three-putts. then it exhausts ten feet as the recreational level.
You Don't Have to Be Phil with a Wedge – Phil Mickelson may be the great wedge mage of all time. For decades it has been going up and down from almost anywhere on a golf course. Fortunately, regular golfers don't have to do the same. Going up and down is fun, of course, but you can tell it's still a challenge. What you do want to avoid are those wedge-shaped chunks and skulls that don't reach the well surface. Those are the shots that do real damage, double bogeys or worse.
Take a breath of relief
I hope these statistics have changed your mind about whatever wave level you are hoping to achieve, and provided the relief you need. All golfers know the game is challenging, but what they don't usually know is that they can make more mistakes than they think. In reality, they are not really errors they are only reasonable results . Since we consider things like hitting fairways and greens to be a success or a failure, it's hard not to think of them as anything other than a binary event.
Most of the game is actually in the gray area. If you missed a fairway, how much did you miss it? Do you still have a chance on the green? Well good! That's not a failure, you did an excellent job of limiting a higher score.