Golf Scorecard

The advent of Shotlink has taken PGA Tour stat-tracking to a whole new level. Data from every single shot played in tournaments – from the longest drive to the shortest putt – is crunched into hundreds of statistical categories.

Golf fanatics aren't the only ones who study these figures. The pros do, too. Stats help them identify their strengths and weaknesses, then gear their practice around those areas needing improvement.

Amateurs, of course, don't have access to such detailed information. But you can still track your own stats and use them just like the pros do. Make note of a few key indicators on each hole and after a few rounds, tell-tale patterns will emerge.

Use your scorecard, a notepad, or a GPS unit or smartphone with a stat-tracking app to mark your:

  • Fairways hit
  • Greens in regulation
  • Number of putts
  • Distance of first putts
  • Up-and-downs from off the green
  • Penalty strokes

The results can prove quite handy. For example, you may discover that you're only hitting an average of five fairways per round, or that you're three-putting frequently between 25 and 35 feet. Take that knowledge to the range or practice green and base your sessions around those issues.

How and Why Track Your Stats to Lower Your Scores

How and Why Track Your Stats to Lower Your Scores

We live in an information age. It seems no matter what topic is at hand, there is a wealth of data you can access in order to gain a better understanding of the subject. This development of technology has moved at a rapid pace in recent years, and it shows no signs of slowing down. You likely spend most of your work day using one piece of modern technology or another, and you probably have a smart phone in your pocket right now. Despite the fact that golf is a centuries-old game with deep traditions, it has not been immune to the technology revolution.

In this article, we are going to talk about golf data – specifically, we are going to talk about how you can track your stats in order to work toward lower scores in the long run. If you are serious about taking your game to a new level, you will want to pay close attention to what statistics can offer. You don't have to analyze your game to the level of a PGA Tour professional, but even some light statistical work can provide valuable insights as to how you can become the best version of yourself on the course.

When we say 'stats' in the golf sense, we are actually talking about a couple of different things. First, we are speaking of the on-course stats you can accumulate during a round of golf. These are things like greens hit in regulation, fairways hit, total putts, and more. Later in the article, we will discuss how you can put these kinds of stats to use for your own improvement. In addition, stats in golf can also refer to those which are measured by high-tech equipment. Using a launch monitor at your local driving range can help you determine your swing speed, launch angle, spin rate, and more. We will dive further into this topic later on as well.

Some golfers may choose to pass on keeping track of their stats simply because it doesn't sound like very much fun. Golf is supposed to be fun, after all, and tracking your stats may seem more like homework than anything else. We would argue that the ultimate fun on the golf course is shooting a low score. Sure, you will have to put in a bit of work in the meantime to gather some information from your stats, but the payoff will come later when you start to play excellent rounds. And, as you will find out throughout this article, keeping track of your stats actually isn't much work at all.

All of the content below is based on a right-handed golfer. If you happen to play left-handed, please take a moment to reverse the directions as necessary.

Tracking Your On-Course Stats

Tracking Your On-Course Stats

With regard to tracking your on-course stats, things haven't changed all that much due to the digital age. Sure, there are some devices that will help with the tracking process, but the stats that the average amateur golfer monitors are the same as they have been for decades. Advanced stats have made their way onto the PGA Tour, of course, but that doesn't have much relevance for the casual golfer.

So which stats should you consider tracking during your rounds of golf? Review the list below.

  • Greens hit in regulation. This is a 'classic' golf statistic. If you have ever done any tracking of your own stats, you probably started with this one. A green hit in regulation is one which you reach while still allowing yourself two putts for your par. So, that means hitting the green with your tee shot on a par three, with your second shot on a par four, and your third shot on a par five. If you are on the green in the appropriate number of shots (or less), you mark down that you have hit the green. If not, you have missed the green. Total these numbers up at the end of a round and you will be able to calculate your GIR percentage. For example, if you hit 9 out of 18 greens during the round, your GIR percentage would be 50%. This statistic is a great way to track the quality of your ball striking, as you have to hit both good drives and good approach shots to fare well in the GIR category.
  • Fairways hit. Another classic golf stat. This one couldn't be any simpler – did you hit the fairway with your tee shot? Keep track of this stat for every hole throughout the round – except the par threes, of course – and you can come up with your fairway percentage in the same way you calculated your greens hit percentage. There are often 14 tee shots to be hit on the non-par three holes during an 18-hole round, so going 7 for 14 would leave you once again at the 50% mark.
  • Total putts. Yet again, we find a very simple statistic to track. On each hole, you are going to count how many putts it takes you to knock the ball into the cup. Add those totals up at the end of the round, and you will have your total putts number for the day. It is worth noting that this number can be a little bit misleading. If you hit a lot of greens, you will usually have a pretty high total of putts – but that doesn't necessarily mean you putted poorly. Long approach shots which hit the green will usually result in long putts, meaning you will have a lot of two putts rather than one putts. On a day where you miss a lot of greens, your number should be lower because your chip shots should leave you with makeable putts. It is still worth tracking your total putt number, but be sure to keep it in context with how you fared from a ball striking perspective.

For the average golfer, the three stats above are a great place to start. Sure, there are more on-course stats that you could decide to keep, but making things too complicated really isn't going to help you have more fun on the course – and it won't help you play better, either. By sticking with these three, you will gather some valuable information without making a round of golf feel too much like an exam.

The manner in which you choose to keep these statistics is up to you. For many players, the easiest option is to make some notes on the scorecard at the end of each hole. Instead of just writing down the score you recorded, you can also write down your total number of putts, as well as whether or not you hit the fairway and the green. Create a simple recording system for yourself and then add up the totals at the end of the day. If you are particularly serious about your statistical analysis, you may decide to keep some sort of log at home which contains the statistics from all of your rounds. Doing so will help you identify long-term trends which could indicate trouble (or progress) in your game).

Getting More Specific

Getting More Specific

If you choose to keep track of the stats above, you will come away with some information that can help you decide where your game needs to improve. However, those stats are a bit limited, in that they don't tell you that much about what is going on with your game. Sure, you might know that you are missing a few too many fairways, or that you could stand to hit more greens, but how are you going to do that? Where are you going wrong? Gathering information is one thing – gathering useful information is quite another.

For that reason, we are going to recommend a system of keeping stats that will help you get the biggest possible benefit. This system is going to require you to record a little bit more data as you go, but it shouldn't be particularly time consuming in the end. Once you get the hang of it, you will find that it's actually quite simple.

To start with, you are going to continue to record your total number of putts just the same way as you always have. Count up how many putts you take on each green, write that number down, and more on. As mentioned above, that statistic is not perfect, but it is a decent way to keep track of your performance with the flat stick.

The first change we see is going to be with regard to your fairways hit category. Instead of just recording whether or not you hit the fairway, you are going to use a system that builds in more detail. For starters, you are going to keep track of which club you used off the tee. Use a 'D' to denote driver, '3W' for three wood, and so forth. Then, you will use a check mark if you hit the fairway, but if not, you are going to note to which side of the fairway you missed. So, for example, if you hit your driver and miss to the right, you would write down 'DR'. This is a simple system, and you will quickly get the hang of it.

At the end of your round, you will be able to go through your scorecard and learn a lot about what happened over the course of 18 holes. You will be able to spot patterns, such as missing consistently to the right with your driver, or missing to the left with your three wood. Armed with this information, you can make upcoming trips to the practice range far more effective. You'll be able to work on exactly what was giving you trouble, and hopefully your range sessions will be more beneficial as a result.

You can apply this same kind of thinking to your greens hit statistic. Instead of just recording whether or not you hit the green with an approach, you can note which club you used for the shot and which direction you may have missed. So, using the same technique from above, you could write down '7L', for a seven iron approach which missed to the left of the green. Since 'L' could also refer to long in the approach shot setting, it is a good idea to use 'Lg' for long just to avoid confusion.

The first round or two you play while using this technique, it might seem like a bit of a hassle. However, you will quickly get comfortable with it, and it will only take a few moments after the hole is completed to write down the various pieces of information you need. Then, when you are getting ready for a practice session, you can refer back to these notes in order to determine exactly what kind of problems you are trying to fix.

Finding Improvement in Statistics

Finding Improvement in Statistics

The only reason to keep stats while you golf is to work toward a better game. If you aren't going to use this information in an effort to play better, you might as well not keep it at all. So how can you improve thanks to the use of statistics? Well, we already mentioned that you can look at your stats and then practice the parts of your game which are weakest. Of course, that is a pretty obvious tip, and you probably didn't need us to tell you that. However, you can also put your stats to use in another way – course management. By playing to your strengths – and away from your weaknesses – you may be able to lower your scores without actually making any technical improvements.

Review the points below for some examples of how your statistics can help you to make better decisions.

  • Choosing the right club off the tee. If you use the 'advanced' method of keeping stats which we outlined above, you will now have a clear picture of which clubs are getting you into trouble off the tee. When tracking stats in this way, most golfers will discover that their driver is doing far more harm than good. You probably miss the fairway more frequently with the driver than you would like to admit, meaning you are putting yourself in plenty of bad positions throughout a round. By moving down to a three wood or hybrid club, you might be able to keep the ball in play more often. Of course, if you happen to be someone that hits a lot of fairways with the driver, your stats will only give you more confidence to keep on swinging away.
  • Knowing when to lay up. By keeping track of your success rate with each of your different irons on approach shots, you can get a clear picture of how well you fare with the longer clubs. Obviously, you are going to go for the green when you are holding a six or seven iron. But what about when you have a three iron in your hands, or even a four iron? Are you able to hit the green with these clubs? If you rarely manage to put the ball on the putting surface with these clubs, it might be smart to lay up in most cases – especially when there is a hazard waiting to catch a mistake. In many ways, your stats can provide you with a needed reality check. You will see exactly how well you perform with certain clubs, and you can then make informed choices based on those numbers.
  • Master your club selections. The art of picking the right club for a given approach shot is something that gives many players trouble. To hit an accurate approach, you not only have to strike the ball cleanly on the proper line, but you also have to be holding the right club. A simple miscalculation, or a misjudgment of your own capabilities, could lead to the shot coming up short or flying way too far. Go through your stats to notice any patters that jump out at you with regard to club selection. Are you regularly hitting the ball too far? Or do you come up short more often than not? It is common for amateur golfers to overestimate their own power and come up short with many approach shots. In time, the data you gather by keeping track of your stats is going to go a long way toward making you a smarter golfer.

The three points above are just examples of how you can learn from the stats you keep on the course. Once you get into the habit of keeping stats, you will find that it is possible to learn a wide variety of things – likely, you will learn things that you never would have expected. Get started in your next round by keeping detailed stats and this newfound information should soon lead to lower scores.

Launch Monitor Statistics

Launch Monitor Statistics

To finish up this article, we are going to talk about an entirely different category of statistics – those you can get from a launch monitor. This is the high-tech part of golf, and it is the capability of improving your game just by putting the right equipment in your hands.

If you are interested in using a launch monitor, you will need to contact your local golf shop for information. Most golf facilities today have a launch monitor, and they also have at least one or two professionals on staff who know how to use the equipment. With their help, you can have your swing analyzed and learn a great deal about your strengths and weaknesses from a technical perspective. Also, the launch monitor data will help you to determine whether or not you are using the right clubs (and even the right golf ball).

So which stats will you be able to pull from a launch monitor session? The following are just the beginning –

  • Swing speed. This is one of the big numbers that everyone is interested in learning when they hit some balls in front of a launch monitor. How fast are you able to swing the club? Most of the pros can swing their drivers easily in excess of 110 miles per hour, but you probably shouldn't set your sights quite that high. In fact, if you are able to break into the triple digits at all, you should be very happy with your effort.
  • Spin rate. While swing speed gets much of the attention, the spin rate on your shots is a big deal. Too much backspin will cause your shots to balloon and fall down short of their distance potential. Not enough spin, on the other hand, and the ball will never get the lift it needs to sail down the fairway. You are looking for a sweet spot, and the launch monitor – along with the club fitting professional – should be able to help you find it.
  • Launch angle. As you might expect, the launch angle on your shots is the angle (relative to the ground) at which the ball leaves the club face. Again here, it is all about finding a sweet spot between too low and too high. Don't worry if you have very little knowledge of this topic going into your club fitting session – the pro should be able to explain this, and more, with ease.

Statistics may not be the most exciting part of golf, but they are a powerful way to improve your game. If you would like to take a step forward in your performance, look to the power of data. By collecting just some simple data points along the way, you can reshape your game and lower your scores in the process. We hope that we have helped you understand how to use statistics in a way that will be productive but keep golf fun at the same time. Armed with this new wave of information, there is no telling what may be in store for your game. Good luck!