Breaking 80 Using Golf Stats

Most golfers who find their handicap dropping will collect data to monitor their play. This data is converted into stats which they can use to focus on specific areas of their game. Kevin, a regular at The Grateful Golfer, has mentioned many times over the years that collecting and analyzing stats is more than just numbers on a page. I agree wholeheartedly. When I worked I, like Kevin, use stats off the course to determine courses of action or at least recommend a way forward. This analytical process has helped my golf game over the years because I learned to gather and apply fact based results to lower my score. This process of stat analysis is one I used to consistently break 80 and you can as well.

Golf stats can be overwhelming. The PGA Tour has a stat for just about anything. It is actually mind boggling the detail of information gathered and supposedly analyzed. Personally, a regular golfer who wants to break 80 has zeroed in on most areas needing improvement and will look at some specifics, but not as detailed as the professionals.

If you are planning to work at your golf game, I recommend you do capture some statistics. There are many things you can record and it will take some effort to figure out which to improve your game. It really depends on what you are looking to improve. Personally, I only have one stat that is of importance to my game right now; greens in regulation. This particular stat drives the collection of secondary stats, but that is only when I feel there is a disconnect between the results of my score over a five game sample group.

To break 80, as I said earlier, you are deeply involved in stats collection. Of course anyone can collect stats and use them, but likely the more serious player with a low to mid handicap will adopt this approach to their golf game. At this point, Mark Crossfield’s advice on stats collection is important to focus upon:

The accuracy of the data collected is very important. I know this from experience because last year I collected a plethora of stats regarding my game and here is a summary:

For 18 Hole Scores 
Over Par4.72
Putts per Round29.76
Putts per Hole1.65
Distance of First Putts252.74
Average Distance For First Putts14.0
Distance of Putts For GIR163.1
Average Distance Putts for GIR20.2

The above information was gather over 50 rounds of golf. As you can see, I spent a fair bit of time collecting data. I think I found, however, is that after about 5 rounds, the numbers became a bit meaningless. Yes, the long term average is important to understand, but it does not really allow me to pinpoint specifics relating to my game. I could delve deeper into my all the data, but that is more effort than need. The one conclusion I garnered from my stats collection from last year is improve my GIR (greens in regulation) percentage and hit the ball closer to the hole. After all that work, I proved what I already knew.

When we break 80 consistently, I needed to collect more specific data relating to specific swing results. For example, to Do my tee shots finish on the left, right or center of the fairway? Because I have a high accuracy off the tee (I counted first cut, if there was one, as a fairway hit) this stat alone was not accurate. There were many shots where I hit the fairway, but had no shot at the green because of position. My data collection did not account for that refinement of information. So, a word of caution, when collecting stats, ensure you are collecting the proper ones and that they are accurate to be able to tell you something.

Golf is a simple game that can be complicated by stat collection. Now I primarily focus on GIR. I can extrapolate many things from this stat and use it moving forward to focus my practice time when hitting my long irons, hybrids, and woods. This simple approach works for my game because I do not want to develop analysis paralysis.

Do you collect stats? Does it help your golf score?

I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!


4 thoughts on “Breaking 80 Using Golf Stats

  1. After hearing Crossfield’s podcast where they discussed ‘Break 80′ stats, I’ve been looking around at others’ thoughts. I felt his GIR target of 40% was too low. Intuitively, I thought 50-60% would be more like it without having kept stats.

    I like your ‘first cut = fairway’ counting. A clear shot at the green from just in the rough (especially on a preferred side of the fairway) is always better than a blocked out shot but still on fairway. Perhaps similarly greens. A putt from the fringe perhaps could count as a GIR (and a putt) as a foot off the front edge to a front pin is probably closer than hitting the middle of the green and especially one that just hangs onto the green up the back. We might be looking at 10 ft off the green versus 30 yards on!

    Interesting stuff – good golfing!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jim, good move. GIR is the only stat that can’t be gamed. It is the true baseline indicator of good play. Fairways are important, putts, less so. I track GIR and putts but am considering dropping them. I only hesitate because I’d interrupt 14 straight years of capturing. But why capture something you don’t use?



    Liked by 1 person

    • Brian,

      I guess it depends on your intent. Measuring GIR and putts is a metric for me. I think with all things considered these two stats add value and they are easy to track. They may help guide us to make a putting grip change or slight swing adjustments. I guess it really matters what we are trying accomplish.

      Cheers Jim

      Liked by 1 person

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