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Tracking statistics does one thing for you as a golfer—it helps you understand your progress, your weaknesses, and your strengths.

There are many statistics that we can track as golfers, but there are 5 that you could call “par for the course”. By tracking these five statistics, you’ll learn 95% of what you need to know about your game.

  1. Fairways Hit Percentage
  2. Greens in Regulation (GIR) Percentage
  3. Putts Per Round
  4. Up and Down Percentage
  5. Sand Save Percentage

Although my FREE stats tracking app does pretty much all of this for you, here are a few descriptions of each statistic.

Fairways Hit %

This represents the total fairways that you successfully hit divided by the total fairways on the course you are playing.

This statistic is a general indicator of your driving accuracy.

Example

  • You hit 10 fairways during an 18 hole round
  • There are four Par 3 holes on the course you played, which means there are 14 total fairways to hit on the course (you cannot hit a fairway on a par 3 because there is no fairway)
  • Your fairway percentage is 10 / 14 = 71.4%

Nuances to this statistic

If you drive a ball through the fairway (i.e. the fairway ends before your ball stopped but you hit the ball where you wanted), go ahead and count that as a fairway hit.  Technically, this does not count as a fairway hit, but the purpose of tracking your statistics is to get better insights into your game, and if you hit your drive down the middle, you want to reflect that in your statistics even if it rolled past the fairway.

Getting more detailed

You can get more detailed with this statistic by tracking what club you hit off the tee and where you missed the fairway.  For example, “I missed the fairway to the left with my 3-wood”.  These detailed stats are difficult to keep track of on your own, but my free statistics application does it for you.

Greens in Regulation %

This represents the total greens that you successfully hit divided by the total greens on the course you are playing (which will always be equal to the number of holes you are playing).

This statistic is a general indicator of your ball-striking ability (iron play).

Example

  • You hit 14 greens in regulation during an 18 hole round of golf
  • Every hole is an opportunity, so you have 18 opportunities
  • Your “GIR” is 14 / 18 = 77.8%

Nuances to this statistic

What happens if you hit your ball on the fringe?  Does that count as a green in regulation?

If you were playing on the PGA Tour, this would NOT be counted as a green in regulation; even if you putted it from there.  But we aren’t playing on the PGA Tour, and the goal of tracking statistics is to get better insights into your game.  So if you want to compare your statistics to the PGA Tour, I suggest going by the books and counting an approach shot to the fringe as a missed green.  But if you are a higher handicap golfer and want more meaningful stats, here are my suggestions.

  • If you hit your approach shot on the fringe and your next shot is a putt, then I would count this as a successful green in regulation.  Just make sure that you count your putt as a putt here.  If you would have classified this as a missed green in regulation and still hit your putter from the fringe, you would NOT count that first putt as a putt.
  • If you hit your approach shot on the fringe and your next shot is hit with a wedge, I would count this as a missed green in regulation.

Getting more detailed

You can get more detailed with this statistic by tracking what club you hit, your shot location (i.e. fairway, rough, bunker, etc.), and where your miss location was (i.e. left of the green).  Again, this is difficult to keep track of on your own, but my free statistics application does it for you.

Putts per Round

This represents the total putts you take for a round.  If you 2-putt every green for a full round of golf, you will have taken 36 putts for that round.

Example

  • On the front nine, you miss a lot of greens but make a lot of up and downs, which leaves you at 12 putts for the side.
  • On the back, you hit more greens and 2-putt more often, which leaves you at 18 putts for the side.
  • Your putts per round is 30 for this round

Nuances to this statistic

What if you putt from the fringe?  Does this count as a putt?

I suggest reading the “nuances” section for the GIR stat if you haven’t already.  The key here is to stay consistent and consider how you classified your approach shot.  If you hit your approach shot to the fringe and count this as a successful GIR, then you should count your putt from the fringe.

Getting more detailed

If you want to get more detailed, you can track not only how many putts you took on a hole, but also their lengths.  My free stats tracking app allows you to do this easily.

Scrambling %

This represents the total successful up and downs that you made divided by the total up and down opportunities you had.

This statistic is a general indicator of your short game ability.

Example

  • You are playing a par 4 and you hit the fairway
  • You hit a 9-iron into the green, but it misses to the left in the rough
  • You use a sand wedge to chip the ball on the green, and after your chip, you have an 8-foot putt
  • You make that 8-foot putt
  • For this hole only, your scrambling percentage is 100% because you had 1 opportunity, and you were successful.

Nuances to this statistic

The most common nuance that comes up here is related to this discussion we have been having about the fringe in the earlier stats.  What happens if you hit your approach shot on the fringe, hit your putter from the fringe, and make the next putt?  Is this a successful scrambling opportunity?

Like GIR and putts per round, you need to stay consistent between these stats.  I think it’s easiest to go through a couple examples.

Example 1

  • You hit your approach shot and the ball lands on the fringe
  • You count this as a missed GIR
  • You hit your putter from the fringe to 4 feet
  • You make the 4-foot putt

In this case, you made 0/1 GIR, took 1 putt, and had 1/1 (100%) scrambling.

Example 2

  • You hit your approach shot and the ball lands on the fringe
  • You count this as a successful GIR
  • You hit your putter from the fringe to 4 feet
  • You make the 4-foot putt

In this case, you made 1/1 GIR, took 2 putts, and had no scrambling opportunities (0/0).

Getting more detailed

If you want to get more detailed with this stat, you will want to track what club you chipped/pitched with, where your chip/pitch was from (i.e. sand, rough, fairway, fringe), and whether your attempt was successful.  My free stats tracking app allows you to do this easily!

Sand Save %

There is no need to go into detail on this statistic since it is exactly the same as the scrambling percentage statistic except it is exclusive to up and down opportunities from the sand only.

What is considered “good” for these statistics?

Setting arbitrary statistical benchmarks for ALL golfers is not a great way to approach this because there are so many factors that influence each golfer’s statistics.  For example, you could have a high handicap golfer who hits 80% of fairways but has an average score of 95 on 18 holes.  This golfer would be leading the PGA Tour in fairway percentage but is obviously not ready to tee it up with Tiger or Phil.  Likewise, you could have a golfer who takes 27 putts on average per round, which is considered exceptional.  But in order to make sense of this, you need to also look at this golfer’s GIR statistic.  If they miss a lot of greens in regulation, this means that they are often chipping/pitching around the green and likely hitting shorter putts than someone who hits a lot of greens in regulation.  Therefore, missing a lot of greens generally decreases the number of putts a player takes during a round while hitting more greens makes that same putting statistic look worse!

It’s all about context, so there is no possible way to recommend an arbitrary benchmark for all golfers.  Nevertheless, it is interesting to look at PGA Tour statistics, so let’s dive into them.

PGA Tour Fairways Percentage

Here is the year 2019 for the PGA Tour, which shows that the average tour player hit about 62% of total fairways for the year.

Here are some factors that might affect the driving accuracy statistic.

  • What clubs the player hits off the tee – If a tour player hits a lot of 3-woods and irons off the tee, this will generally increase their driving percentage because these clubs are easier to hit the fairway with than the driver
  • Weather conditions – It is more difficult to hit the fairway when the course is dry.  When the course is wet, the ball will stop quickly after landing, and therefore it is easier to “hold” the fairway.  Likewise, if you play in windy conditions, that fairway percentage is going to suffer.
  • The type of golf course – This one might seem obvious, but your driving accuracy on narrower courses will generally be lower (unless the narrow course forces your mind to focus more and you end up hitting more fairways on tighter courses!).

PGA Tour Greens in Regulation Percentage

Here is the year 2019 for the PGA Tour, which shows that the average tour player hit about 66% of total greens for the year.

Here are some factors that might affect the GIR statistic.  You might notice that they are similar to the fairway percentage statistic.

  • What clubs the player hits off the tee – If a tour player hits a lot of 3-woods and irons off the tee, this may increase their fairway percentage, but will leave them with longer shots into the green.  Sometimes, this is intentional.  In many British Open tournaments, Tiger Woods has left the driver in his bag for most of the tournament and hit 2-irons off the tee in order to avoid pot bunkers and the heavy winds present at the British Open.  This forces tiger to hit long irons into many of the par 4 greens, but is a tradeoff he is willing to make in order to avoid an even worse situation (i.e. getting stuck in a pot bunker).
  • Weather conditions – Hitting greens in regulation is much easier when the course is soft from a recent rain because the golfer can “hold” the ball exactly where it hits the green without worrying about the ball rolling off the green.  In addition, if there is a lot of wind, hitting greens in regulation becomes difficult because most approach shots carry a lot of spin and are severely affected by wind.
  • The type of golf course – Not all golf courses are created equal when it comes to green complexes.  It is a lot harder to hit greens in regulation on a course like Pebble Beach where the greens are the size of a dinner table than a course like TPC Scottsdale where the greens are much larger.  In 2019, the U.S. Open was played at Pebble Beach while the Waste Management Phoenix Open was played at TPC Scottsdale.  Notice how the average GIR percentage was much lower at the U.S. Open which has to do with smaller greens and thicker rough.

PGA Tour Putts per Round

Here is the year 2019 for the PGA Tour, which shows that the average tour player took 29 putts per round on average during the year.

Here are some factors that might affect the putts per round statistic.

  • Your GIR statistic – If you are a golfer that hits a lot of greens in regulation, you will likely have longer putts on average.  This is because when you miss a green, the chances of you chipping it close to the hole are much better than your chances of hitting a 6 iron close to the hole.  If you are a higher handicap golfer, you probably won’t be hitting many greens in regulation, so in that case, you need to consider how often you find yourself chipping/pitching around the green.
  • Quality of Greens – Part of the reason why PGA Tour pros have such good statistics is that they play on well-groomed courses.  This comes into play most prominently in the putts per round statistic.  If you play on a lot of public courses where the greens are slow and bumpy, your putting statistic will be inflated.  No matter how good of a putter you are, when putting on bad greens, you won’t make as many putts.

PGA Tour “Up and Down” or “Scrambling” Percentage

Here is the year 2019 for the PGA Tour, which shows that the average tour player got up and down 59% of the time.

Here are some factors that might affect the scrambling statistic.

  • Green speeds and undulation – It is very difficult to get up and down when playing on fast, undulating greens.  Let’s look at Tiger’s famous shot from the Memorial tournament below.  Since the green he is hitting to is downhill and wicked fast, he is required to hit a high flop shot to keep the ball from rolling into the water behind the pin.
  • Amount of green you have to work with – If you are short-sided like the video below and you don’t have a lot of green to work with, you have to hit high lofted short game shots, which are difficult to pull off and generally result in lower scrambling percentages.

PGA Tour Sand Save Percentage

Here is the year 2019 for the PGA Tour, which shows that the average tour player got up and down from the sand 50% of the time.

Here are some factors that might affect the scrambling statistic.

  • Type of course – If you are playing a links-style course, you probably won’t be getting up and down from the bunker as much as you would on a PGA Championship like course.  Your bunker skills will be stronger if you’re practicing from the depths of a pot bunker, but you probably won’t be getting many of those up and down.
  • Weather – If the course is sopping wet, the bunkers will be significantly harder to hit out of.

What’s Next?

If you want to start tracking these statistics, I suggest signing up for my statistics tracking application.  It is completely free and has detailed statistics reporting that will allow you to focus on where you need to improve.

And if you’re not sold on the idea, here’s a post that I wrote detailing why it is important to keep your statistics.

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