If you have been following some of my posts on either Facebook or Twitter, you might have noticed that I have been posting a lot on the statistics of golf. In particular, I wanted to find out what statistical variables a golfer should pay attention to in trying to improve their game. This is, after all, a pretty important module in the Striker golf app that I am developing. Whether you are a student, amateur, or a professional golfer, understanding the statistic of your golf game is the second most important variable in reaching the next plateau in your golf game; the first is understanding and improving your golf swing. I would give you the argument, however, that even if you possess a beautiful swing, you might not score well simply because you don’t understand the game of how to get the ball to and into the hole.
So what are the most important statistics to follow? Do you know how often you hit the green in regulation? Do you know many putts you might take during a typical round? Do you know how often you hit a drive onto the fairway versus one that is just off the fairway or even worst, one that went out of bounds or into a hazard? Do you know how often you drive the ball left versus right? Finally, do you know the importance of being able to hit a lag putt or other kind of shot to within 3 feet or within 10 feet?
Understanding these statistical variables are the key to understanding how you play golf and where in your game that you can improve. Each of these variables obviously impact on each other, so improving one should improve them all. Which are the most important? Some would say that greens in regulation and/or putting are the most important. Remember the old adage of – drive for show but putt for dough? There is a lot to be said for that and even though it might be true, it is also true that it is a lot easier to putt if the ball is closer to the hole.
Most of us who play golf understand that golf is a lot easier if you can get off the tee and on to the fairway with some distance. More easily said than done. The average tour player hits a fairway 60% of the time. And the average tour player hits about 280 yards. We aren’t tour players. The sportsjournal.org published an article that made a point that senior tour players were worst than PGA tour players in reaching greens in regulation because they couldn’t hit it as far ( making for a longer second shot ) even though they were more accurate. The first variable to establish excellence in the sequence to scoring, therefore is not just fairway accuracy, but rather fairway accuracy with distance. For most golfers, we ideally want to be within 150 yards… or have a shorter iron in for accuracy in reaching the green in regulation. And we certainly don’t want to hook the ball left or slice the ball right of the fairway and introduce hazards. Fairway accuracy with distance is therefore a very important statistic to record in our app.
That leads to the second element in the sequence to better scoring in golf- Greens in Regulation or GIR. Golf Magazine points out that this is the most important criterion for scoring in golf along with putting. I would argue, however, that the average tour player makes the green only 60% of the time- and most of us aren’t tour players. That means that they are off of the green 40% of the time- which further implies that they have to be great at getting up and down or achieving par saves. This is not to say that putting isn’t important, but that 40% of the time, we have more work to do. Naturally, golf is a lot easier if we can make the green in regulation. If we could manage this hurdle of reaching the green in regulation, we wouldn’t have to worry about chipping, pitching, or sand shots. We simply have to worry about putting. But most us have to worry about chipping, pitching, and sand shots more than 50% of the time. We are not tour players. Most of us don’t practice this part of our game as much as we should. Many public facilities don’t even have a short game area. I personally don’t think that Greens in Regulation should not be elevated to the level of importance that it is if you are to improve your game. In summary, you need to know who you are as a player. If you are very good with your driver and irons, you can vastly improve your game by improving your approach shots and greens in regulation. If you are not, then the easiest way to improve your game is by improving the statistics of your short game. I think that breaking down the short game is far more important and measuring par saves is an integral statistic to record particularly if we are not reaching the green over 50% of the time.