Stats’ interesting

My aim for the last blog was to provoke some thought regarding stats. Given the interest in my template for key stats, and the screenshots from apps I’ve received since, it would suggest it did just that.

So how can stats help your practice and lessons? Below is an image of a stats card I use with lessons, take a moment, have a closer a look and see what you might draw from it.

Very quickly the stats card could help identify why this player was not playing to their handicap and getting frustrated. I will always start by looking for double bogeys (or worse), any 3 putts or penalty shots and then quickly on to GIR (Greens In Regulation).

In this case the player wasn’t able to hit as many GIR as desired relative to their handicap. A factor in this was the distance they were left with to reach the greens. The further you are away from the green, the harder it is. This was then influenced by club choice and/or strike from the off the tee.

So for practice, it would highlight the importance of tee shots, practicing approach shots from 175 – 200 yards and then also short game shots. Why the latter? Because you just aren’t going to hit many greens from that far away.

For me GIR (Greens In Regulation) is a key stat. By hitting more GIR you make scoring easier, but there are factors that influence GIR and that’s why I like the GIR opportunity stat we identified in the last blog.

Factors affecting your ability to hit GIR can be:

  • Tee shots that finish out of bounds
  • Tee shots that finish in a hazard
  • Tee shots that finish in a penalising situation (think chip outs)
  • Distance left for approach shot

Let’s focus on the last point as the others are more self-explanatory. The further you are away from the green, the harder it is to hit the green. But, for some of you there maybe a lot of holes where you simply can’t hit the green in regulation due to distance. That is fine, that is what handicaps are for. The point here is, manage your expectations, use your handicap wisely and make sure you score on these holes.

Let’s use some PGA stats as food for thought …

PGA Tour GIR average for a shot played from the fairway (so a good lie)

  • 100 yards = 83.7%
  • 125 yards = 80.2%
  • 150 yards = 76.1%
  • 175 yards = 66.7%
  • 200 yards = 53.7%
  • 225 yards = 34.1%

Firstly, let’s remember that ‘average’ doesn’t exist but it helps build the picture.

The second point here is, you must be aware of the club you are using for the same distance. A PGA tour player could be using an 8-iron from 175 yards, whereas the amateur golfer could be using a long iron, hybrid or a fairway wood. With that in mind, you would be better looking at a distance where the PGA tour player is using a similar club – 225 yards +.  

Lastly, lets keep in mind that the ‘worst’ PGA tour player is a far better golfer than a scratch golfer! So don’t compare yourself to a PGA tour player but use the data to help set realistic expectations for yourself and improve your self-talk. Expecting to hit the green every time from 150 yards is unrealistic and then cursing yourself as you walk up to the next shot is not going to help you shoot lower scores!

‘Stupid stats’ – I did say I would refer to this

Example – putting success inside 10ft. ‘Player X has made 90% of putts inside 10ft today’

At first, this stat sounds obvious but when you think more on it; what distances were the individual putts, how many attempts were included in this stat?

  • A player who has held 7 out of 10 inside 10ft is more successful than a player who has held 2 from 2 inside 10ft as the sample of putts is greater which equals greater difficulty.
  • Do we know if the putts counted were closer to 4 feet than 10ft? A player could have more putts closer to 4ft and 1 putt from 9ft to create this stat.
  • The stat basically doesn’t tell the whole story and can be misleading

Finally, a stat that got trending on social media recently was that Tiger Woods misses the green 1 out of 5 times from 100 yards! This I found amusing. Firstly, it doesn’t take into account the environmental factors affecting the shot, the situation he is in or the hole location. Secondly, do you really think Tiger Woods will miss the green from 100 yards if that’s the challenge? His skillset is so good that if aims at the middle of the green he really isn’t going to miss the green in 5 attempts … unless the green is very small 😉

So, yes stats will help educate you on your score but don’t get carried away with them. Keep them in context and use them to aid your practice/performance.