A Telling Golf Stat That Everyone Should Know

Golf is a game that has gone statistics crazy. There is a stat for just about everything. In the past, I have tried to capture a bunch on my own and realized after a couple of years that the data I was collecting was helpful to a small degree. I have discussed stats in the past and have concluded that how close the ball is to the pin on approach shots is really the top stat. I have focused on greens in regulation (GIR), but I think it is time to expand that concept a bit in order to fully understand the most telling stat in golf.

I am still a proponent that the higher my GIR percentage, the lower my golf score. However, I want to refine my thoughts because it does not tell the whole truth. For the moment, lets take GIR out of the equation and focus on the distance from the hole on our approach shot.

Our approach shot is defined as the last shot taken before our ball stops on the green. Obviously, the closer this shot is to the green, the greater expectation that our ball come to rest nearer to the pin. Makes sense…..right? Of course it does and Brooke Henderson proved it last weekend:

This above stat by Brooke Henderson is amazing. Hitting the ball within 12 feet from 120 to 150 yards is what I would consider dialed in! As a professional, our expectations of Brooke are much higher than our own but the concept of hitting the ball close on any approach shot if fundamentally strong.

I have offered many techniques to hit the ball closer on a plethora of shots over the years. The farther from the pin on approach shots, the more challenging it is to stop the ball close. But, this simple concept is the key to low golf scores. The closer we are to the pin, the better chances of one putting, but at the most a comfortable two putt.

Now, lets bring back the GIR stat. If we combine my new metric of distance from the pin and GIR, we have a stat that could change our golf game. Hitting the ball close on our approach shots to should be focus of all golfers. I realize that we already try to make this happen, yet I watch many players (including myself sometimes) make poor decisions on club selection or rush our pre-shot routine which results in poor alignment and swing mechanics. I do not have a definitive answer to the challenge of hitting the ball close on approach shots, but I can guarantee that it is one stat stands above all others.

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

6 thoughts on “A Telling Golf Stat That Everyone Should Know

  1. Jim, on the putt vs chip, I’d play for the easiest leave. Would take a 12 foot uphill chip off the fringe over a 25 foot downhill putt most times because I don’t like putting defensively. Thus am always looking for the best leave. Yet, when you add ’em all up, GIR is king! All my best rounds have high GIR numbers. Bottom line, if you hit the middle of all 18 greens, you’ll probably score better than flag hunting on all 18. . .at least at our level. Might be different for the tour pros because their misses are much closer. Good topic.

    Thanks,

    Brian

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I know I’ve always looked at it this way. If I can go for the pin somewhat safely, I will. I know my distances. I know my default misses. I can judge just how safe it is try and get it close from that and have confidence in the decision. Whether missing blows a GIR is something that never crosses my mind. It’s only what kind of trouble if any missing might bring in. A short chip to get up and down is not something I’m going to be considering trouble. I would just as soon be looking at a 10-12 foot chip for birdie as a 25 foot putt for one. There’s playing it safe, and then there’s playing it too safe. The more chances we give ourselves the more we convert.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kevin

      Your point is well taken. Sometimes a shot that is 25 feet from the pin is the correct shot. However, when pin hunting is the possible, the closer the better is my point. We part ways on one point, I would rather a 25 foot putt for birdie over any chip. Anytime I can put the flat stick in my hands I try and take it.

      Cheers Jim

      Like

      • That was of course meant in the context of going for a pin and missing. Not so much choosing between them. The choice is between going for the pin or playing safe to the middle and leaving a long putt. What I’m saying is I’m not going to be aiming for that 25 foot putt if the only issue with a miss from going for the pin is a short chip. The risk/reward choice is go for the eagle shot for me. Go for the tap in birdie. Don’t worry about missing if it’s just a short chip that I’m facing because that could bring a birdie still too. It’s not very high on my risk list with all the practice I get on the short game it’s less so now than ever in fact. So i’d go for the pin. Playing safe doesn’t often bring an eagle.

        Over the long haul, fairways and greens are king. This doesn’t change that at all. It’s just that if you want to score lower, you can’t always take the safest option. I’m not going to miss my mark every time I go for it. Hopefully, I’ll hit it often, but the goal is to limit the amount of risk I take on to things I can manage. A short chip is something I can certainly manage so why let it scare me away from a better chance at a lower score than taking the safe shot is going to bring. The risk is more than worth the chance at the reward.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Kevin,

        I did understand your previous and your clarification above cements my understanding. One of the challenges of writing articles is to try and reach all readers. Experiences players, like yourself, have a deeper understanding of many topics and it is fun to have the discussion.

        Cheers Jim

        Like

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