In today’s game, there is so much technology available to a student and so many ways to keep track of your progress. Keeping a handicap is one way to do it, as it can easily show you how much you have improved or not improved over a set period of time. But it’s amazing to me how many students don’t keep track of statistics in their games, or use faulty ones that don’t truly provide any real information that can be applied to your game.
When playing a round of golf, you need to be able to keep basic statistics related to long game and short game. Many students are hesitant to do this as it feels like too much work or they don’t want to slow things down going through each hole and writing down notes. The easy answer to this is that you need to set up your scorecard and prepare before the round, so all you have to do is fill it out quickly once you reach the next tee. But what stats should you keep?
First and most obvious, is fairways hit. But don’t just write down whether you hit it or not, but also put a quick letter in there to annotate where you missed it so that after the round, a pattern can emerge. If you use a simple “R” for right, “L” for left, and “F” for fairway it will be easy to see where your tendency to miss is and you can work on that with your coach or the next time you go to the range. Practice just for the sake of practice isn’t worth much; you need to have purpose to everything you do.
Next would be greens in regulation, and again I would encourage you to put in some additional information. Besides noting a green hit or missed, be sure to note where you missed it (short, long, right, left) and also the yardage you had into the green. Many of my students have a false sense of confidence with some clubs, but when I do playing lessons or see stats it’s incredible how the numbers just don’t bear that out. So put down your second shot (or third shot on par-5’s) yardage and watch a pattern emerge. You may be a much better long iron player than you thought, but those wedges and short irons may need work! Again, the whole point is to maximize your already limited practice time.
Short game is another area that you need detailed analysis of to really see strengths and weaknesses. Keep tabs on how many shots you hit from inside 100 yards (excluding putts), and how many times you can get “up and down” in 2 shots to save a par. Tracking the types of shots and the distances from the hole can really be helpful in determining your weaknesses. This may seem like a lot of information to keep track of in a round, but a simple “X” for not getting up and down and a “C15” to symbolize a chip from 15 feet off of the green is all you need. The more you do it the better and faster you will get at it when you play, and you can make proper use of short game practice. Many times I see students practicing short game shots that they rarely hit on the golf course and are of low difficulty. In the end, the weakest link always breaks under pressure so you better know where and what that weak link is at all times.
Finally, putting stats are a key metric to keep track of as well. Unfortunately, simply keeping track of total putts is a waste of time. It’s the significance and distance of the putts that matters the most. You can keep track of the total putts on each hole, but I want you to write down the distance of your first putt to the hole. This is critical and can be really eye opening. You might look at the numbers after the round and realize that you hit the ball better than you thought, but your short and mid-range putting and green reading was not good enough. On the flip side, you could see that you may have hit a decent amount of greens in regulation but had many lengthy first putts, which you didn’t get close enough to the hole and ended up three-putting. Understand that on lag putts from long distances, it’s crucial to get the ball inside of 4 feet, as your chances of making putts from 5 feet and out go way down. On the PGA Tour, from 5’ to 10’ they make roughly 57% of those putts – the best players on the best greens in the world! So what does that tell you about the importance of recognizing your weaknesses and fixing them to shoot better scores?
The whole point of keeping good stats is to be able to work with your coach and practice time to turn your weaknesses into strengths and lower your scores. That is the name of the game when it comes to golf. The lowest score, not the best swing, wins in the end, so do you know what you really need to work on? Keep better records next time you play and your game will really change.