How Statistics Can Improve Your Golf Game

Sta­tis­tics from your round can help deter­mine what area of your golf game should get pri­or­i­ty at the prac­tice range. There are a large num­ber of stats you can track, but because too many stats just become noise, I like to track only a few sim­ple stats for each hole.

  • Fair­ways Hit (Dri­ving Accu­ra­cy)
  • Greens in Reg­u­la­tion
  • Num­ber of Putts
  • Num­ber of Penal­ty Strokes

These four sta­tis­tics are eas­i­ly tracked on a score­card.

Exam­ple of Score­card Stats

There’s one stat miss­ing here that is com­mon­ly tracked by oth­ers and that is sand saves. A more appro­pri­ate stat, and one I may begin track­ing, is green side saves. It is the per­cent­age of times you get up and down when in close prox­im­i­ty to the green. The short game – pitch­ing, chip­ping and putting – is the biggest area in which high hand­i­cap golfers can shave strokes off their game. I already track num­ber of putts and track­ing green side saves will not only pro­vide feed­back on my pitch­ing and chip­ping but will also help fur­ther clar­i­fy my putting stats.

Let’s dig a lit­tle deep­er into the stats I cur­rent­ly track.

Fair­ways Hit

This is called dri­ving accu­ra­cy on the PGA Tour. You track whether or not your dri­ve stopped in the fair­way on each hole. At least in the way I present­ly track it, this is the least ben­e­fi­cial stat I track.

The qual­i­ty of your shots off the tee can not be ful­ly jus­ti­fied by a yes or no answer. You can miss the fair­way to vary­ing degrees. Your ball can be just off the fair­way sit­ting up nice in the first cut of rough or it can be 100 yards back in the woods. Both of these count as a missed fair­way. Golf Digest pub­lished a dif­fer­ent sys­tem a few years back to track dri­ving accu­ra­cy. It involves scor­ing missed fair­ways on a scale of zero to four. Find more infor­ma­tion on this sys­tem by fol­low­ing the link below.

The Real Mea­sure Of Dri­ving Accu­ra­cy

This is an inter­est­ing sys­tem that does a bet­ter job of track­ing dri­ving accu­ra­cy. How­ev­er, I choose not to use it. It’s more work and I pre­fer to keep things sim­ple while I’m out on the course.

A yes or no answer to whether or not you hit the fair­way still pro­vides valu­able infor­ma­tion. After all, the goal is to hits as many fair­ways as pos­si­ble. Just remem­ber to look back on the fair­ways you missed. Did you still leave the ball in a good posi­tion? Did you strike your dri­ves well today? Or did you mishit your shots of the tee and incur penal­ties? You need to focus on both prop­er club selec­tion off the tee (you don’t always have to bomb your dri­ver) and hit­ting these clubs at the prac­tice range if you are get­ting into trou­ble off the tee.

Greens in Reg­u­la­tion

Greens in reg­u­la­tion, in my opin­ion, is the most impor­tant stat any golfer can track. Hit­ting a green in reg­u­la­tion means you are on the green and have a birdie putt or bet­ter. The abil­i­ty to hit greens, along with putting, is the key to scor­ing low in golf but it also plays a big role in tak­ing a high hand­i­cap golfer to shoot­ing 90.

Miss­ing too many greens puts a lot of pres­sure on your short game. When you hit greens in reg­u­la­tion, unless you four putt, the absolute worst you can score is a bogey. As an improv­ing high hand­i­cap golfer, you should be hit­ting between 25% and 50% of greens in reg­u­la­tion depend­ing on where you are at in your jour­ney to shoot­ing 90. If you are not in this range, you need to work on both club selec­tion and hit­ting those clubs at the prac­tice range.

Num­ber of Putts

The num­ber of putts you make on each hole is an impor­tant stat. After all, the put­ter is the most used club by a wide mar­gin. It makes sens­es that putting pro­vides the most oppor­tu­ni­ty to improve your scor­ing.

But this stat can also be mis­lead­ing. A three putt from ten feet is much worse than a three putt from fifty feet. Also, a large num­ber of holes with one putt does not nec­es­sar­i­ly mean you are scor­ing well. It could mean you are miss­ing a lot of greens, chip­ping on and leav­ing your­self short putts.

There are oth­er ways to track putts that have been devel­oped. One is to count the length of the last putt on each hole and total­ing them up for the round. More infor­ma­tion can be found through the link below.

A New Kind of Putting Sta­tis­tic

The more feet of putts you make dur­ing a round, the bet­ter you are putting. This isn’t fool proof either as one long putt can skew the num­bers. Keep­ing things sim­ple, I just count the num­ber of putts per hole. I do how­ev­er make sure to look at all my stats in rela­tion­ship to one anoth­er.

Num­ber of Penal­ty Strokes

Min­i­miz­ing penal­ty strokes goes hand in hand with mov­ing towards shoot­ing 90. I track the num­ber of penal­ty strokes I have on each hole.

At the end of the round, I can look back on the holes I had penal­ties on. There can be sev­er­al dif­fer­ent caus­es of penal­ty strokes. Some­times you just hit a poor shot. Empha­size that club the next time you’re on the prac­tice range. Some­times it might be choos­ing the wrong club. Try hit­ting 3 wood off the tee on holes where your dri­ver is get­ting you into trou­ble.

Keep­ing stats for your rounds is a good way to tar­get areas for improve­ment in your golf game. Keep the num­ber of stats man­age­able and remem­ber to look at all of your stats in rela­tion­ship to each oth­er.


  1. how about break­ing 80? to me the exact same thing. except in my case im hit­ting alot of GIR and only one OB today. but 3 puts peri­od and you wont break 80. Oh sure o few 3 puts and you can. I bought a new Vokey this year and it hep­led me GIR but I also bought a new put­ter but after only a month Im going back to my old put­ter. I have had good luck with 10–30ft putts but 2–10 has been bad espe­cial­ly any put 2=3 ft. Its feels like i have no touch at all and the ball comes off fast so I try to baby a put well that dont work. Speed is so impor­tant. Any thoughts.

    • Thanks for the com­ment Chad. I also strug­gle at times with short putts and end up jab­bing at the ball when I try to baby it. I work on short back swing and fol­low through for short putts. The key is still fol­low­ing through even though it is a short one.

    • Hi J D. Thanks for the com­ment. A green side save shot is some­what of a judge­ment call but I con­sider it a green side save shot when the ball is rest­ing with­in about 10 yards off the green.

      To track green side saves, I add anoth­er row on my score­card and label it GSS. I will mark a Y for yes on a hole if a got up and down from a green side shot or a N for no if I did not. I will leave it blank if I did not attempt a green side shot.

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