Is Equating Our Golf Score To Success The Proper Approach To Good Golf?

Why keep score in golf? This fundamental question is likely garnering many quizzical looks right now, but it is a legitimate question. Short of competition, does the score really matter or is it an arbitrary number that does not really mean that much? If we are only competing against ourselves during most rounds, than the score really should not matter that much. The joy of hitting the ball into the hole is the goal of each hole and if we succeed at this small task, then how many strokes it took really is irrelevant. Right? Yet, most golfers (including myself most rounds) feel it is important to equate our success to the score. This might be the wrong approach for beginners and I dare say some more experienced players!

The reason most players are focused on score is because they like to compare themselves against their peers. There seems to be some inalienable thought that shooting the lowest score makes you the better player on that day. I would suggest that this line of thinking is folly. The reason is because most amateurs do not follow all the rules of golf, allow themselves do-overs, take gimmies, and may not count all their penalty strokes. I do not say this out of meanness, but more from the reality of watching golfers over the years. I will admit that sometimes I fall into this category, but know the difference that my score is not indicative of how well I played on any given day. Some days, I just want to have fun on the links and taking an extra drive makes that happen.

The real test of a players ability to keep proper score is to play in competitions. Primarily stroke tournaments where everything is counted. This is where the real test of a players success is tied to score. I cannot count the number of players who were shocked by their poorest round of the year when their score in a tournament is substantially above what they normally shot. I would suggest that their approach of correlating their play to their score outside of tournaments is giving them a false sense of success.

Over the past five years, I have gravitated away from the score being the tops of the pops. As you can see from the scorecard above that I track fairways, greens in regulation and putts. The two I am most concerned with are GIR and putts. If I have over a 50% GIR score and less than 30 putts, then I feel my round was successful regardless of the score. However, I will tell you that if those two stats are strong, the score takes care of itself. I feel that by capturing these three little stats, I garner a better feel and understanding of my success on the links during those rounds.

Most golfers keep score. The use it as their benchmark for success and for the most part, works for them. I would suggest that chasing a score is sometimes the wrong approach and can cause players additional anxiety for no reason. Personally, the three stats work for me and as such, will continue to keep this method of tracking my success in future rounds.

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


4 thoughts on “Is Equating Our Golf Score To Success The Proper Approach To Good Golf?

  1. I don’t find stroke play to be the best evaluation of the state of my golf game. There are so many factors that influence the score including weather and lucky or unlucky bounces. As much as we try to evaluate everything with hard numbers, is a 77 one day better than an 80 on another. Like Jim, I track putts, GIR, and fairways hit. The difference is I don’t do it during the round, I do it after. I am like Kevin, concentrate on the next shot, the score will take care of itself.

    Over the last four years, I have played a lot of events using Stableford scoring. I find it a better barometer of progress because it balances risk and reward better than stroke play. It gives more of a match play vibe.

    Yesterday’s round was a good example. The weather was warm for this time of year, but it was windy. The first two holes are still pretty spongy making for a tough start.

    I was four over on the front, two over on the back. I drove the ball well and putted very well. I only had 6 GIR but was almost always close. I had one double bogey. Of the 28 putts, three were from ten feet or more. My one three putt was a very long first putt with a huge break in it. So evaluating my round, i played very well by my standards. The score yesterday could have been anywhere from 76 to 81. I don’t need stats to know that my short game and consistent driving kept me in the game. I also finished strong. The end score was what it was.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lorne,

      Your comment describes a very mature and experienced player. I track stats to find trends. I do use them for some individual rounds, but for the most part I am able to discern if I had a great round by my play. It is, however, nice to have a benchmark established to help with my analysis.

      Cheers Jim


  2. Long ago I learned something about myself. If I can keep my score from taking up space between my ears, I’ll play better. If I can keep the fact that I just parred or birdied 3 in a row out of my head, the chances for a 4th go up.

    I for one score best when I stick to the shot at hand. I shoot lower scores and I win more skins when I stick to the shot at hand. Both are two very different mindsets where the strategy of playing the holes comes in, but what my current score is matters not at all for either. The goal is still hit the shot in front of me well.

    Liked by 1 person

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