A Look Under the Covers: Key Putting Statistics
It’s safe to say that all amateur golfers would like to putt better. But what usually prevents them from getting better are two things. First, they don’t put in the necessary time to actually make improvements and, second, even if they were to put in the time, they don’t know how to practice their putting and on which things they should work.
Before you can develop as a putter, it’s critical that you have an understanding of which aspects of putting are costing you the most strokes on the course. Are your putting mechanics sound, or is a flawed technique undermining your effectiveness? Are you missing too many short, makeable putts? Does your distance control need to be improved? Are 3-putts costing you too many strokes each round? Only after some post-round analyses over time can you begin to draw some conclusions about your specific trends and weaknesses.
Once you’ve gotten a handle on your own personal statistics as to where and how you’re losing strokes on the green, you can put a plan in place to improve in those specific areas. The practice drills that we provided in another blog post will help you to improve in all of these key parts of the putting game.
Key Putting Statistics
When it comes to losing strokes on the putting greens, statistics show that most amateur golfers are less proficient than they should be in one or more of four key areas, and it is because of these specific deficiencies that they are giving away strokes. These four key statistics reflect the most important areas of putting that are the primary causes of lost strokes by higher-handicappers:
- Number of 3-Putts Per Round
- Number of Putts Per Round
- Holing the Short, Makeable Putts
- Scrambling Ability: How Well You Chip
Start by Getting Closer to the Hole
There is one underlying, inescapable fact that is at the root of almost all amateur putting issues. To start shaving strokes off your overall score through better putting, you need to start by getting closer to the hole. Obvious? Of course.This clearly falls into the category of a “no-brainer.”
But it’s worth thinking about a little deeper and understanding the ramifications of just how important it is to get as close as possible to the hole, whether that is as a result of better long-distance lag putting, better chipping from off of the green, etc. The goal should always be to get your ball to a distance from which you have a reasonable probability of making your next putt.
This is as true for the pros on the PGA Tour as it is for the amateurs at the local municipal course. The difference, of course, is that the pros make a much higher percentage of putts from all distances. They’re also much better at chipping and lag putting, so their chances of saving pars are also much better. But statistically speaking, the relationship between proximity to the hole and strokes saved is obviously valid for any golfer.
The graphic below will give you a better feel for the probabilities of a typical 15- handicap golfer making their next putt based upon how close they’re able to get to the hole. The illustration also shows the corresponding probabilities for PGA Tour players from identical distances:
SUCCESS RATE FOR PUTTS OF VARIOUS DISTANCES
This data clearly shows the importance of getting within 3-5 feet of the hole. That is the magic distance range for amateurs where there’s at least a decent chance of a make. From 3 feet, even 15-handicappers will make over 8 out of 10 putts. And if you are able to get within 5 feet of the hole, you still have a 50-50 chance of converting.
But if you’re unable to lag putts to within this 3-5 foot circle, you can see that your make probabilities decline very quickly. From just 3 feet further outside this range, 15- handicappers will make less than 3 out of 10 eight-footers. And from 10 feet, those same amateurs will likely miss the putt 80% of the time.
So, although advising amateurs to “start by getting closer to the hole” seems to be self evident, the real guidance here is to urge you to spend more of your practice time improving your distance control on your lag putting and on your greenside chipping so that you’ll be able to get inside that 3-5 foot circle a larger percentage of the time.
If you're ready to learn more about how to level your game up, see how our putting training aids can help here.