Study: Your Game Versus A Scratch Golfer’s
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Study: Your Game Versus A Scratch Golfer’s

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Study: Your Game Versus A Scratch Golfer’s

Less than one percent of us achieve a “scratch golfer” status. Statistically speaking, most of us are average because, well, that’s how averages work.

Yet, regardless of skill level, handicap or potential, we’re bound by this insatiable desire to improve.

So just how different is your game compared to scratch golfers?

We combed the Shot Scope database to see what, if any, answers it could provide.

Steady Diet of Greens

If there’s a single metric that tends to closely trace handicap, it’s likely “greens in regulation.” Picture the best player at your course. My hunch is that he or she is probably one of the better ball-strikers as well.

Looking at the data, a scratch golfer hits nearly twice as many greens per round as a 10-handicapper and more than three times as many greens as a bogey golfer.

Knowing how far you hit each club and picking optimal targets is paramount if you want to maximize how often you’re putting for birdie. Shot-tracking systems such as Shot Scope and others allow golfers to gather on-course data which is more realistic (and likely more humbling) than playing home-run derby in a simulated environment.

Green Control

Putting is a slow science with only two possible outcomes. Either the putt goes in or it doesn’t. But the real story is one of speed and, therefore, distance.

It’s no surprise that all golfers make a higher percentage of putts the closer they get to the hole. And, again, speed control is paramount. That isn’t to suggest that selecting the correct line isn’t part of the equation. It’s just not as important as speed.

From a first putt distance of 30-plus feet, scratch golfers’ pace control is significantly better than mid- to high-handicappers—by nearly 3 feet. On average, the scratch golfer will make three out of four-second putts, provided the first putt gets within six feet of the hole.

Scratch Golfer

Not only do mid- to high-handicap golfers make fewer putts from three to six feet (76 percent versus 60), they leave an average of 7.2 feet for the second putt. As a result, scratch golfers three-putt only once every couple of rounds whereas 15-plus handicappers three-putt several times every round.

Fewer Drivers Off the Tee

In general, hitting driver off the tee is the best decision, regardless of handicap. However, scratch golfers exhibit an average driving distance that can be 30 to 70 yards longer than many higher-handicapped golfers. As a result, scratch golfers are more likely to encounter situations where the driver might be too much club.

Simply, the further you can hit a driver, the more options it creates.

Scratch Golfer

Avoiding Trouble

Scratch golfers make fewer than one double-bogey per round. How?

Most likely, when a shot ends up in trouble, they forgo the “hero” shot for something much safer. It’s equal parts patience and discipline. DECADE golfers will know what I’m talking about. The point is that shooting the lowest possible score necessitates that you play the shot with the highest probability to result in the best possible outcome.

Scratch Golfer

It is no surprise to see scratch golfers make more birdies per round than other handicaps. However, the more significant difference is the number of double-bogeys (or worse) per round. In general, if a golfer is going to shave five strokes off his or her handicap, three or four of those will come from making fewer bogeys (or worse).

Final Thoughts

So, how does your game stack up against a scratch golfer? Have a few things to work on?

The premise of performance tracking systems such as Shot Scope is to take golfers from guessing to knowing. Like stepping on a scale, the information is not always been exactly what we want to see—but it is accurate. To date, Shot Scope’s database of more than 200 million golf shots provides a robust sampling of amateur performance which provides opportunities to better understand performance through a macro lens.

What would you like to see next?

 

 

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Chris Nickel

Chris Nickel

Chris Nickel

Chris is a self-diagnosed equipment and golf junkie with a penchant for top-shelf ice cream. When he's not coaching the local high school team, he's probably on the range or trying to keep up with his wife and seven beautiful daughters. Chris is based out of Fort Collins, CO and his neighbors believe long brown boxes are simply part of his porch decor. "Isn't it funny? The truth just sounds different."

Chris Nickel

Chris Nickel

Chris Nickel

Chris Nickel

Chris Nickel

Chris Nickel

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Chris Nickel

Chris Nickel

Chris Nickel





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      Mike Stuewe

      1 year ago

      Are the birdies and double bogey’s per round normalized for tee box? I always see people comment that getting down to scratch is about double bogey avoidance and not just making more birdies, but that might be misleading if we’re talking about different groups playing the tips vs the 1 or 2 up tees.

      Reply

      Mike

      1 year ago

      Once you get a baseline for your distances, unless you’re taking lessons or getting old fast, those distances shouldn’t change that much that quickly. Also helps if you are distances are consistent, meaning, a better player.

      Bottom line, for me, at least right now this is one more gadget that I don’t need to incorporate into my golf round.

      Reply

      DKey

      1 year ago

      Mike, it’s not a gadget; it’s data. A huge amount of exactly the right kind of data. If you want to cut your index in half, Shot Scope can help. This article points the way. Shot Scope shows you how.
      For others, Shot Scope was developed by the Scots, who are thrifty. Theirs is NOT a subscription model. Buy it; it’s yours. They keep making it better too. They make me better. Shot Scope, working out and better swing mechanics took my index from 16 to 7. 67 year old male golfer in CA.

      Reply

      John Westall-Eyre

      1 year ago

      Couldn’t agree more with the reply and the sentiment of data improves your game. I’ve been using Arccos for a few years now and my game has improved dramatically, partly though discipline on the course and partly through knowing exactly which club to play and hire far it will go. I regularly doubt and question my app. And it’s always right! I can see precisely Hire far I hit every club in any condition on the course. I’ve gone from 14 to 4 in two years and it’s largely due to Arccos.

      Andrew

      1 year ago

      I like the concept of this article but the statistics they chose to provide could be better.

      For example, why use a stat for putting make % from 3-6 feet.? We all know a 3 foot putt is entirely different than a 6 foot putt. And then of course no stat for putts under 3 feet, where there is probably a wider margin between a scratch and a 15 handicap.

      This part of the analysis would be way better if they broke down (a) putts under 4 feet, (b) putts between 4-6 feet and (c) putts from 6-8 feet..

      Reply

      Joe Loukota

      1 year ago

      Chris,

      Great article! Nice summarization of handicap-levels across-the-board.

      What would I like to see next? Addition of the Android platform (watch, app) the way Apple is (Yes, I know of programming variations/limits).

      Also, a ‘caddie’ feature based on MY previous shots/data so I’m reminded my PW doesn’t fly 190 out of the rough & I should hit the hybrid instead (exaggeration intended) – I’d even pay a small fee for that.

      I have been extremely pleased with ShotScope since MGS introduced them with V1; now I’m on V3 & love it

      Reply

      Tom R

      1 year ago

      My putting is below average, everything else aligns, I even skew a little better on the ball striking elements as a 5.7 index. Drive for show, putt for dough.

      Reply

      John S

      1 year ago

      I’ve got down from 6 to scratch in the last few years and I am in my mid 50s. The five things I think that helped were:
      1. Practicing putting through a gate on a putting mat every other day for 20 mins so that I get the ball on the correct start line.
      2. Practice wedges inside 100 yards so that you control distance.
      3. Aim for the centre of the green on approach outside 50 yards – easier to two putt than chip and putt.
      4. Warm up before play – at least 30 mins before a round. Otherwise you’ll waste shots in the first few holes.
      5. Be realistic on your chances of sinking putts. Remember PGA pros only sink 50% of 8 foot putts.
      Also enjoy the game!

      Reply

      Mike

      1 year ago

      Great points, esp #4. I’ve come out of the car cold & actually parred my 1st hole several times but then the next few holes are not good, & before I know it, I’m in a “scoring” hole that I probably can’t dig out of

      Reply

      AC

      1 year ago

      emphasis on number 4

      Reply

      rlowe

      1 year ago

      Nice article. Good material. I fully agree with the importance of getting on the green when you are supposed to. Drive to position your shot to the green and then try to avoid three (or more) putts. Simple to say…?

      Reply

      Pete A

      1 year ago

      I’ve been using the Shotscope system for over 2 years. I play at least 60 rounds per year and primarily in competitions.
      The info I have gained over this time has shown me 100% where I need to work on my game. I originally started as a mid 20 handicapper and now I’m playing in the low teens.
      The amount of data available from my rounds is ridiculous. I love it.

      Reply

      Hacker Bill

      1 year ago

      I know this article isn’t about Scope Shot but it peaked my curiosity. Totally unfamiliar with Shot Scope. Do you have to purchase a device from them to use any app or dashboard? I use GolfPad GPS off my iPhone. Super easy to use… $19 a year for the premium (stats, etc). The Scope Shot website isn’t clear on how it all works.

      Reply

      Chris Nickel

      1 year ago

      You need to have some way to gather the information which populates the dashboard, etc. So, yes, you do need the tracking tags (small discs that go in the butt of the grip) + a watch, GPS handheld or rangefinder. Thus far, Shot Scope does not require an annual subscription.

      Reply

      TR1PTIK

      1 year ago

      Shot Scope is a one-time purchase. Buy any of their tracking devices and you’ll be able to track your stats just like GolfPad. The difference? It doesn’t require your phone to use. In fact, you can’t use the phone for anything beyond syncing and reviewing data. which is probably the only complaint I have. I’d love the ability to make edits as I go rather than waiting until after the round but that’s a pretty small gripe IMO.

      Reply

      EXROG

      1 year ago

      I use shotscope and it is amazing how much information you can get from using it.
      Now you know at least one person that uses Shotscope. Hope you have a great day.

      Reply

      Chris Nickel

      1 year ago

      This seems to be the common sentiment shared by Shot Scope users.

      Reply

      Matt Gallo

      1 year ago

      Interesting you’d use Shotscope’s database. I don’t know a single golfer who uses Shotscope.

      Reply

      Chris Nickel

      1 year ago

      Yet, they have 200+ million shots in the database and growing….

      Reply

      Matt Gallo

      1 year ago

      Arccos’ website says they have almost 3X that amount, why would you not use them?

      KB

      1 year ago

      How many of the millions of golfers worldwide do you know?

      Reply

      Joe Loukota

      1 year ago

      I have used ShotScope ever since MGS introduced/reviewed them…I think 4 years ago ????

      I opted for SS over Arccos because of the lack of annual fee. & no need for a phone in my pocket (Arccos now offers an alternative). I wear a watch anyway; no new impediment there. With ShotScope’s tracker. Their Customer Service is phenomenal!! I’ve always had any issue answered/resolved within 24-48 hours (usually a course changing since the last satellite mapping).

      Admittedly, my new PING G425 irons came w/ Arccos (by default) so I’ll compare/contrast the systems this next season. But ShotScope has a HUGE head-start in my opinion.

      Reply

      Stephen Liss

      1 year ago

      I’ve used ShotScope since 2018. In fairness… you don’t know me.

      Reply

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