What separates the good golfer from the great?

Where do average golfers struggle the most? How much difference could one more par per round make?

Those were the questions we wanted to answer last year when we first published this report.  Today, we are back again to see what has changed if anything.   We take a closer look at golfer performance by handicap. Along the way we'll show you how golfers of varying ability levels compare across several metrics, and provide you with some clues that help to explain why golf products are marketed the way they are.

To bring you this information, we've partnered with TheGrint, a Golf GPS and Handicap/Stat Tracker. TheGrint's massive database provides absolutely incredible insight into the makeup of the golfing population as a whole.

The Data:

Data was captured from TheGrint App and Website.

Our sample is comprised of 20,000 golfers and 400,000 scores of 18 Hole rounds.:

  • Are part of a USGA Compliant Golf Club
  • Have uploaded at least 5 scores to TheGrint

Abnormal scores (scores with handicap differentials lower than -10 or higher than 45) were removed from an initial sample of over 400,000. Our data is taken from golfers who track their handicap.


Scores by Handicap Bracket

This graph helps understand how different the avg. score over par vs the handicap.

As many know the Handicap Index is a representation of the potential ability of the player, therefore is not simply an average.

So you will see how someone in the 11-15 Handicap Bracket is not necessarily averaging 11-15 strokes above par. Instead the average 18 over par, which is significantly more. Additionally, an interesting insight is that for you as a player it helps identifying the variability of your game. So for example, if you are a 6-10 handicap you should avg. 85 (on a 72 par golf course). If you are below that, then it means you are very stable, but if you are above that number it means that your scores vary more than the typical golfer.



Putts by Handicap Bracket

It is important to understand that Putting is not an independent metric. Being below average might mean that a) you are a better putter of the ball or that b) you don’t hit many greens in regulations or that c) you hit it very close with your approach game.

So while it does not define the cause, it points to options. Which is extremely useful in identifying strengths. The overall average performance of a golfer is 35 putts per round. While Scratch golfers only manage to go down to 31.5 putts per round. As reference, in 2015 the best PGA Tour players was Jordan Spieth with 27.82 putts per round.



GIR% by Handicap Bracket

This stat is where we see the largest difference between a Scratch golfer (57%) and a 25+ Handicap golfer (12%). And GIR is usually the standard for measuring Tee-to-Green ability.

Most people think that a Scratch player is always in regulation, and are surprised with this, since the graph only shows 10.26 greens per round on average for a Scratch golfer. The reality is that Scratch golfers are better because they are good at making up and down and at avoiding disaster scores. Basically because, when they are not in GIR they a) are very likely around the green or, b) if not around the green they can get back on track with less damage done.



FIR% by Handicap Bracket

“Drive for show putt for dough” - many say. But it does matter being long and accurate. You don’t see that much difference in accuracy from a Scratch to a 25+ handicap. Only 19%, which equates to 3 more fairways on a 14 drivable-hole’s course. But distance wise you typically see a lot of difference in driving.

Additionally, measuring your game can help you identify if you need to work on Distance or if you need to work on Accuracy. If you are above avg. on Accuracy then work on adding Distance, if you are below avg. then work on improving Accuracy.

So, how did YOU stack up?