David approached Shot Scope at the Scottish Golf Show in March and asked us to dig deeper into his statistics. He is an 18-handicap golfer who feels he is a good putter but doesn’t understand why his stats show him 3 putting nearly 3 times per round (once every 7.8 holes).

With the number of 3 putts David has per round, it is evident that we need to look into his long putting, as it could be severely letting him down. The Shot Scope performance dashboard provides an excellent platform to break down your stats in detail. Looking at the putting statistic ‘Average Proximity to Hole’, we can see that David is simply not hitting his first put close enough, with an average proximity to the hole of 4.9ft from 18-24ft, 7.9ft from 24-30ft, and over 10ft on putts longer than 30ft.

Leaving himself with this much distance between his ball and the hole makes it extremely difficult to convert the second putt and minimize the number of a 3 putts. There are two ways to look at this issue with David’s putting:

  • He isn’t very good at distance control, and some drills could help with that.
  • A contributing factor could be that David’s approach play. He isn’t hitting his shot onto the green close enough to give himself a chance at a one or two-putt.

To understand Shot Scope putting statistics properly, one should understand that poor long range putting often means you should look into your approach shots and the proximity of those shots to the hole. If you do not hit it close enough to the pin, then you are leaving yourself in 3 putt territory. After analyzing David’s statistics, we can see that it is, in fact, his approach proximity to the hole that needs to improve.

Approach play and approach proximity come hand-in-hand with fairway success. Hit more fairways, and you hit more greens. David’s stats prove this. He hits more than double the number of greens from the fairway than he does from the rough – 34% success from the fairway vs. only 12% from the rough. The mobile phone image below shows this statistic displayed on Shot Scope’s mobile app.

 

Hitting the fairway more often should enable David to increase his green success percentage and also reduce his average proximity from the hole, which is currently over 150ft for all approach shots (50-350 yards). The Shot Scope performance dashboard allows you to filter by shot distance, and when we filter David’s approach shot distance to 50-210 yards, his average proximity decreases to 89ft. This is a massive jump in proximity.

So why is this the case? With the distance David currently hits his H13 and 3 wood, he will be unable to hit or reach the green from distances over 220 yards. Unless David can increase the distance he hits these clubs, we recommend that he does not attempt to reach the green and instead leaves himself in the best pace possible for his next shot.

Top Tip: Shots for which you will not be able to hit the green because of the distance (i.e., over 220 yards in David’s case) should be marked as ‘Positional Shots’. This removes these shots from your approach stats.

Going forward, if David wants to improve, he should focus on his approach play first. If David works on his approach shots and manages to hit them closer to the hole, he will give himself the best possible chance of 1 or 2 putting. As a second focus, David should practice his pace putting for long range putts by doing some drills before he goes out to play.

Long Putting Drill: Take 3 balls and pick a putt about 30-40ft. Aim to hit the first ball past the hole (no more than 3ft), hit the second ball short of the hole (no more than 3ft) and then hit the last one dead weight. Repeat a number of times before heading out to play.

Reducing the number of 3-putts was David aim, but Shot Scope has allowed us to gain a deeper understanding of the issue and proved that the best solution to this is for David to spend time practicing his approach shots first with a smaller focus on his long putting. The answers are not always what you might think at first glance.