Stats have conquered the modern sports landscape. With the rapid development of technology in the 21st century, it has become possible to collect and track statistics that simply could not be measured a generation ago.
It was only a matter of time before the statistical revolution reached golf.
As any serious golfer knows, it is now possible to track stats such as tee angle, ball speed, club head speed and much more with just a quick trip to your local driving range.
While these high tech statistics have their uses, we’ll spend this article talking about some more traditional statistical measurements of golf performance. In particular, we’re going to highlight three stats that the average golfer can track with nothing more than a scorecard or notebook.
For a “hands-off” approach, you can also use a system like Shot Scope to automatically track your stats as you play.
Regardless of how it’s done, by tracking these statistics you should be able to spot weaknesses and work on correcting any issues that are preventing you from reaching your potential on the course.
Statistic # 1 – Three Putt Percentage
While it’s quite common for golfers to keep track of their total number of putts during a round, we’d like to point you in a slightly different direction.
Counting total putts can be a bit deceiving as even a good putter will record a large number of putts if he or she has long putts throughout the round. Likewise, a low number of putts could have more to do with poor ball hit and good chipping than with the quality of a player’s putting performance.
Given the problems with counting total putts, we suggest that you pursue three putt greens instead.
Every time the three of you putt a green, make a mark on your scorecard or in a notebook that you use for golf stats. At the end of each round, add these grades together and compare the total to the number of greens you typically hit.
So if you hit 10 greens in a typical way and one of them had three putt, that would be a three-putt percentage of 10%.
On the PGA Tour, the best putters keep their odds in this category below 2%, while most players get between 2% -3%. For the average golfer, keeping it at around 5% would be an excellent effort.
What if you keep an eye on this statistic and find that your percentage is too high? There are two main causes of three putt greens:
1. Bad distance control
If you hit your first putt too hard or not hard enough, your next putt will put a lot of pressure on you. If you find three putts regularly during your rounds, spend some time working on distance control on your longer putts.
2. Shaky short putting
Even a good lag putt won’t pay off if you are unable to hit that second putt to finish the hole.
Short putting is something you should be working on regularly anyway, but it’s especially important if you are a 3-putt putt operator.
Stat # 2 – Fairways Hit
This is a classic statistic that may seem out of date in today’s game. However, we disagree.
Hitting fairways will always be positive, although today some players choose to hit them as far as possible and find them later. For the average golfer, getting the ball in short grass more often is a huge benefit.
Of course, to keep track of the fairway hit, just make a note of whether or not you hit the fairway on each par 4 and par 5 hole. So on a typical par 72 layout, you’re likely to hit 14 tees hoping to find the fairway. If you manage to hit 7 of these, you’re sitting at 50%.
In addition to tracking how many you hit, another recommendation to follow is to see if you missed right or left on the holes where you did not find the fairway.
This information can be extremely valuable as you try to improve your game in the future. For example, if you find that of those 7 fairways you missed above, 6 are to the right of them, there is an obvious pattern that you need to address.
Why are you missing right Is there an alignment problem with the address or is your ball flight pattern leading you to the right side of the fairway?
You can see the problem faster when you have the data in front of you.
Statistic # 3 – Average Score per Hole Type
It’s easy to keep track of because you can get the work done after the round – you don’t have to take any special notes during the round itself other than keeping the score as you normally would. If you want, you can make a simple table to keep track of the growth of this data set.
The idea is to keep track of your average score on par 3, par 4, and par 5. Once you have at least a couple of rounds of data to work with, you can review these averages and see how they compare to each other.
Do you play one type of hole significantly worse than the others? Why could that be?
You might be surprised what kind of patterns can be discovered that you would have missed without these numbers.
As a quick note on this statistic, remember that par 5 holes are of course the easiest and par 3 holes are the most difficult. So don’t be surprised if you’re best relative to par at par fives and worst at par 3. However, when you see your par 5 results being the worst compared to par, you will know that something is going wrong about these long holes.
Maybe you are too aggressive and making big mistakes?
Think about your game and what these numbers say about your style of play.
Just keeping track of the three statistics above can go a long way in gaining meaningful insights into your performance on the course. Don’t put too much emphasis on statistics gathered in just one round – these numbers will be much more meaningful after at least a few rounds.