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Statistics can be a way to quickly put things into perspective for golfers. For the most part, the golf world is used to seeing what players do on a professional level. Many times I use PGA Tour statistics as a way to manage expectations for recreational golfers. In this article I want to share some interesting data that Shot Scope, one of the leading companies for tracking, has collected.
Over the past few years, they have collected a database of more than 18 million shots from golfers around the world. I'm going to view a few stats from tee shots and access photos that I think you'll find interesting. It also provides some insight into what you should do to reach the wave level that you want to achieve.
How far are normal golfers hitting the ball?
All golfers want to know how to take more distance, especially from the tee. There is no doubt that it is easier to place lower scores when you can hit your tee shots further and have a shorter approach to shooting at the green.
Shot Scope has compiled some driving distance data based on common handicap levels (8, 14 and 20), which you can see below. The green bar represents the average distance of all shots, the blue bar represents a well-hit shot and the purple indicates the longest ride.
You can see that there is a clear link between the handicap level and the distance from the T-piece with a driver or a 3-log. I can say from personal experience that adding yards to the t-shirt is a strong part of lowering your handicap. I also discussed some reasonable steps that you can take to get off the tee a little longer.
How important is the accuracy of the T-piece?
Shot Scope also has insight into which quirky tee shots will cost you. The image below shows how many shots it costs a typical golfer when they miss the fairway and also lie back with a 3-timber.
Interestingly enough, a fairway bunker is even more punishment than missing a ride in the trees. Moreover, replacing for accuracy with a 3-wood material costs the equivalent number of strokes for missing the fairway in the light rough.
I have previously written about tee-shot strategies, and essentially you want to hit the ball as far as possible while taking into account major issues such as hazards or trees. There are some cases where it makes sense to take less club, and also times when it makes more sense to hit the driver rather than being too conservative. For this reason, I always advise golfers to evaluate courses they play in advance with a tee shot strategy that takes into account smart target and club choice.
My favorite state (the one that can save you a lot of shots)
Approach shot strategy is one of my favorite subjects. It is also proven by prominent statisticians such as Mark Broadie where the majority of scoring takes place. Long story short, where you land, your approach shot has a huge influence on what your score will be for a certain hole.
I believe the following image is very powerful information:
According to the Shot Scope database, 80% of golfers miss their greens on the short side. It is one of the reasons that I suggest that most players should play to the backyard. Even when you keep track of your own recording data, you can see where most of your mistakes occur. Taking that information and making smarter strategic decisions about the course is a way to hit more greens in regulation (and lower your scores).
GIR is King
When golfers ask me what the secret is to lower scores, I often tell them to build their game to hit more greens, especially if you want to break into the one-digit handicap range.
At the moment my handicap is a + .7. It took more than two decades to officially say that I am a scratch golfer. The cornerstone of my game is making sure that I give myself the chance to hit as many greens as possible during a round. It cost me a combination of working on hitting my ball, choosing an optimal strategy off the tee, and making sure I choose conservative goals on greens (no pin-hunting!).
Let's take a look at how golfers at different handicap levels are hitting greens:
You see that the gap between a 14 and 20 handicap is only seven percentage points, compared to more than 16 percent between an 8 and 14 handicap. I have noticed this trend before and it is often the reason why my advice changes when I talk to golfers who want to break 100, 90 and 80.
At higher disability levels, lowering scores is often about eliminating errors such as three moves, poor wedge play within 100 yards, poor strategic decisions and avoiding the lumps / skulls / mishits. Many of them are low-hanging fruit that can be corrected to turn 102 into 95.
However, if you are dealing with golfers who want to shoot more in the 80s and 70s, your progress may be hampered by hitting balls. All of the above concepts for higher handicaps are still important, but you cannot bypass the GIR statistic. Of all the statistics golfers can measure their progress by, I believe this is the most important thing to focus on. By hitting an average of one or two greens per round, it can make a huge difference in your scores, which you can see in these trends of Shot Scope.
The good news is that you don't have to be a PGA Tour player and hit 75% of your greens. You can set some really good scores while still missing most of your greens during a round, so don't be too strict on yourself.
Custom data works better
Over the past few years, I have written numerous articles on how keeping your statistics is a good idea. You can find out how far you actually reach each club, see your inclinations in different parts of your game and use that information to optimize your decisions.
It is easier than ever to record and analyze information using tracking systems. If you want to know more about Shot Scope, you can visit their website here (they currently have a Father's Day sale). I also wrote this review about their system, which I think is one of the easiest on the market.