2016 REPORT: Overall Golfer Performance By Handicap
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2016 REPORT: Overall Golfer Performance By Handicap

2016 REPORT: Overall Golfer Performance By Handicap

YOU (vs) OTHER GOLFERS

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.

grint-overall-perf-1

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.

 

grint-overall-perf-2

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.

 

grint-overall-perf-3

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.

 

grint-overall-perf-4

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?

For You

For You

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      Chris

      3 years ago

      6 years later, do you guys plan to redo this analysis with new data? It’d be very interesting to see how the averages have progressed in recent years.

      Combining this work with your more recent interactive spreadsheets would be an amazing way for readers to see how they compare to the field.

      Reply

      Chad Miller

      6 years ago

      Is there anywhere I could go to see these data set? I ask because The Grint does breakdown putting stats into putts per green in regulation.

      This number is much more representative of putting skill. a golfer that doesn’t hit a lot of greens but does get close, will chip on and 1-putt more often than a good golfer who hits center green will 1-putt. Thus, the lesser player may average less putts without being a better putter. Putts per GIR normalizes that anomaly.

      Reply

      David

      3 years ago

      The app I use keeps track of putting stats overall and putts when GIR. I’m 1.8 per hole avg. but 2.2 avg putt when GIR. Tells me I need to do a better job on lag putts. Going inside the stats can really show you where you can shed strokes.

      Reply

      ParHunter

      8 years ago

      Is there a stat somewhere that shows the scoring (% of birdies, pars, bogies, double etc) for different handicaps?

      Reply

      Harm

      8 years ago

      Great read, nice insight, but imo concerning putting average…. would be counting total distance in feet from the pin on 18 holes instead of strokes give more insight in this part of your game ?

      Reply

      David Forrester

      8 years ago

      I’ve always enjoyed the skins games played without discussing index. Playing to our ability to me has always been a direct result of those who learn the true necessity of practice. Truth in statistics is intriguing!! Great research and well written article. Thank you so much for this!!!

      Reply

      Jon Baldwin

      8 years ago

      This was surprisingly accurate

      Reply

      Nathan

      8 years ago

      Wonderful article. Thank you,

      Reply

      David W

      8 years ago

      I see several comments here from people who don’t seem to realize that handicap is really about potential and not average. Your handicap gives an idea of what you should shoot on a really good day, not when you are having an average (or even a better than average) day.

      Reply

      Brad Smith

      8 years ago

      This info confirms that putting isn’t nearly as important in separating players as usually believed. The groups are 5 strokes apart from each other, but the putting difference between the groups is only 1 stroke. That means that on average, the groups are 4 strokes different tee to green but only 1 stroke different in putts. It is very similar on tour. For those interested in data on the PGA tour and how it can apply to your game, there is a fascinating book by golf statistician Mark Broadie, “Every Shot Counts” that looks at the “strokes gained concept applied to each part of the game on tour using Shotlink data and how it applies to your game. He looked at “shots gained” for the top 40 pros in shots gained over a recent 8 year period vs the average round in each tournament. 28% of the shots gained were from driving, 40% were in approach shots, 17% was short game, and only 15% was putting……. 85% tee to green!

      Reply

      John H

      8 years ago

      Interesting article. My average closer to my handicap. Surprised to see most average scores so much higher than handicap. I finally bit the bullet and moved up from the tips to a shorter tee to compensate for my growing lack of distance caused by age/less flexibility. Two years ago I was a 4, last year a 6, and this year headed for 7-9. Getting older (74) is a bitch. Still love the game, just wish I had some of my distance back.

      Reply

      Graham Charles Riley

      8 years ago

      John H I have something you should try. When you set up your ball on the tee, what height do you set the ball. Try this test. Put the ball on a tee and then put your driver in place. Then set the tee to a height where if you were standing behind you only see half the ball above your club (They called it the half ball rule of tee heights). What will happen here is you will be hitting the ball slightly higher on the face than you would normally. What this does is slows the spin of your ball which will give you better penetration and roll once it lands. If you step away from your teed up ball by 1/4 of an inch from your normal stance you will strike the ball slightly towards the toe which means you will hit the ‘hot spot’ and not the sweet spot. that will also add some distance. Let us know how it works for you.

      Reply

      Dave S

      8 years ago

      You really need to look at these stats together, and not look at each in a vacuum. For example, I’m right w/in the % range for my handicap (11-15) for both putts and GIR, but WELL below it for FIR. In fact, my average FIR is 6% worse than a 25+ handicapper! What this says to me when looked at together is that my iron play is quite a bit better than the average for someone in my handicap range and presumably my putting is somewhat better than average as well (longer approach shots tend to end-up further from the hole, making 1 and 2 putts more less likely). So, it’s quite eye-opening for me. I think I could really improve my scoring by working on my driving. Even if I take a little off and sacrifice some distance for accuracy, my iron game should be able to compensate.

      Reply

      David W

      8 years ago

      Don’t be afraid to keep the cover on the driver and use the 3 wood. You will probably find you don’t lose any distance if you are rarely hitting the fairway with your driver.

      Reply

      Miguel

      8 years ago

      Wow my Game Golf tells me that my handicap based on their software is 7 which I was surprised since I do not shoot in the 70’s all the time so I thought they were wrong. Apparently based on this chart you posted, I am indeed a single handicapper based on what I have been scoring this year. That makes me really happy.

      Reply

      W.B. Neal

      8 years ago

      Great piece of work. I keep all my stats and fall right in where your charts indicate for my handicap. The only one that is different is the fairways in regulation. I am at a higher percentage. I probably play from the wrong tees and should move up one to increase my greens in regulation. I generally have to pull a headcover for my second shot on a lot of par 4’s. Too stubborn to move up. Keep up the good work.

      Reply

      Kris B

      8 years ago

      I’m clearly an outlier. I ended last year a 6 cap. 9/10 of my rounds are between 79-82. But my driving and GIR both suck. Way below the appropriate metric here. I keep my cap down with my 64* wedge getting me up and down a lot. If I could putt better from 6-12 feet I could drop a few more strokes.

      Reply

      Justin

      8 years ago

      Kris, I’m an outlier as well. I fall somewhere in the scratch range with a +2 handicap. I’ve met very few amateur golfers who are on the plus side of 0, but when I do, they are always very accurate off the tee. I hit the ball a long way, but am not all that accurate off the tee. I make up strokes with my chipping game as you do as well. It looks like the difference between you and I is that I save a lot of strokes with the putter as well. I think you can become a better putter Kris, if you just increase your confidence level. Don’t be afraid to miss a putt well past the hole. Hit it firm and it’ll have a better chance of staying on line. I became a much better putter from 15+ feet after I became great at putts under 5 feet. I wasn’t afraid of 3 putting because I knew I could drain the come backer. Try putting to a smaller target (put tees on each side of the hole and slowly narrow the opening) when you practice and see if that helps. And if you don’t get a chance to practice, if suggest that you find time to practice putting at least twice a week for at least 30 minutes. Good luck with the game! I can tell you that even at my handicap it’s a maddening game, but a game we all love

      Reply

      Kris B

      8 years ago

      Thanks for the comment! I actually got a new putter and have been practicing over the summer a lot in the 4-11 foot range. I’m rolling it really nice. Still punch marks on my greens, but through 7 rounds so far I have zero 3 putts and am making half my 6-8 footers, which is a massive improvement. Of course I can’t hit my irons so far lol, so am in the high 80s still. Very encouraged by my putting so far, and I try to practice 15 minutes putting before every round. Get some roll on drives soon when the course dries out and get my iron groove back and hope good soon!

      Rand

      8 years ago

      Basically, I score double-bogey golf playing once per week or less. Would it become bogey golf if I played twice per week? Maybe. I’ve much admiration for an individual in any profession or pastime that can commit, focus, and succeed. Investment of time, effort, and often money are the barriers for most of us. Fortunately, I’m capable of smiling or lol when I bungle a shot. I wonder how much joy someone actually gets out of the game when they cuss, screech, and throw their equipment after doing the same? When the joy is gone, I’ll stow my clubs for good.

      Reply

      Steve S

      8 years ago

      Rand,
      There are two great books that might help you. Both by TJ Tomasi. How to break 100 and How to Break 90. Both easy reads with solid tips.

      Regards, Steve

      Reply

      Rand

      8 years ago

      Thanks, Steve. I don’t see the joy leaving the game for me any time soon. Was on hiatus for 17 years from casual 3-or-4-times-per-year golf due to several rear enders. My class reunion needed me to fill out a tournament team nearly two years ago and, with trepidation of back and hip pain, I gave it a shot and, though hard at first, found it easier to recover each time I played. And I never thought I’d play again! My neighbor, and oftentimes playing partner, is kindly incredulous over the improvement he’s witnessed in a relatively short period of time. I will check out your book recommendations.

      Keith P

      8 years ago

      Really interesting article. This was a mind changer for me.
      Suddenly Golf is Fun again!
      I don’t need to focus on playing to my Hcp;
      I need to focus on playing to my Average.
      Thank you!

      Reply

      Jon Hensey

      8 years ago

      This is nice to see and hopefully generates more understanding of handicap as the potential of the golfer and not the average score of the golfer. This should be significant in addressing sandbagging as well.

      Reply

      Marc Fine

      8 years ago

      Wonderful analysis and presentation. Thanks.

      Reply

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