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!