Too often golf can seem complex, and at times impossible. However, the basis of success really is quite simple. Get the ball in the hole in par or better. Do this 18 times in a row and you’re classed as a serious player.
Admittedly, it is easy to get lost on this quest. You may dive into a rabbit hole of perfecting your swing, or constantly worrying about that part of your game that just seems to keep failing you when it matters. One piece of advice – do the basics right.
A cornerstone to continually improving your golf is to keep track of key metrics. Many golfers fail to do this mainly because it does take some effort, and can be painful after a bad round. However never fear, I’ve tried to ease your pain here. Attached to this post is a free excel download to help you reflect on each round and work out how to improve your golf in under 5 minutes. Below is how to use the stats sheet to maximise your improvement towards golfing greatness, or winning the cash next weekend.
An obvious place to start, but keep track of where you play, and what scores you make in relation to par. A more detailed point for you elite players is to focus on your 1st, 2nd, 3rd round performances. Do you notice a trend? It is very easy to lose a tournament on day 1, but you can’t win it. Also, if you play a set of golf courses are you performing/struggling at a particular location?
Off the tee
We know hitting the fairway is useful, but how useful actually depends on how bad your misses are, and the type of golf course you play. In some cases hitting the fairway can actually be of little benefit if you can still hit the green with your next shot, summer links golf is a fine example of this.
So I propose the set up above. Note down fairways missed left, right or hit. Along with any tee shots that are hit into a position you couldn’t get to the green from. This includes OOB, water, or behind a tree. Direction of missed fairways are not normally kept, but this is critical information and should be used to structure you practice sessions. During lessons, this information should also be shared with your pro to help them assess how to continually refine your swing and course management. If they don’t think this is a good idea, get a new coach.
Into the green
Based on what we’ve covered above there are no surprises here. Hats off to you if you already keep GIR as a stat, but why would you not want to know what direction you miss greens in?? This is so useful for progressing your game and informing your decisions next time you play. As in the photo above, after 6 rounds we can see that this pro is missing nearly all of their greens short and right. This gave us great information to discuss his clubbing decisions and technique. Quick point here – I’d kill for his 72% GIR, even with these misses this guy is like an arrow with his irons.
Short game is a critical aspect of scoring, which in recent years has been shunned slightly due to people mis-understanding the strokes gained stat. What I have done here could be improved on, but it is a basic start. Use it to keep track of how many times you have to attempt an up and down and how many times you are successful (that is 1 chip and 1 putt, or less).
If you are a club player above a 10 handicap I would suggest you class this as any pitch, chip or bunker shot you have within 30 yards of the pin. If you are a 9 handicap down to tour pro then this should represent every shot within 50 yards. These are just my thoughts, but make a decision and consistently stick to it.
You will be staggered how tough it is to get your up and down percentage to above 60%, and keep it there! This should help you understand just how good tour pros are at chipping and putting.
I love putting. I could spend hours practising. However, how should you practise? What should you focus on? Are you improving? These are questions that few golfers spend enough time thinking about. Again, this is just a start, comment below if you would like me to produce a more detailed piece on putting stats.
In this section note down how many putts you have per round. You’re aiming for under 30, what ever age/standard you are there are few excuses stopping you becoming good enough to get to under 30 putts per round. Have 3 less putts a round, you will be 3 shots better off, there are fewer direct ways to improve your score.
As we know your putts will also be dependant on the amount of greens you hit in regulation, and the distance you are away from the hole. I suggest you keep 1 of the options listed in the picture above along with total putts. These are either average distance from the hole for your round (each 1st putt distance added up and divided by 18), or footage holed (simply add up total feet of putts holed in a round). These stats will give you a better understanding of your progress as you improve your putting. It will also inform you on which length of putts you have most and should spend timing practising. Click here for a fine putting drill to improve your technique off the course.
In this last section you can keep track of birdies, pars, bogies etc. By itself it isn’t much use, but as you scan across the other columns you should be able to make much more sense of your play. For most golfers limiting double bogeys or worse will be key. This tends to correlate strongly with ‘can’t get to the green’ off the tee and 3-putting. As you progress your golf work out how you can make more birdies. Are you not hitting enough greens? Too far from the hole? Or just not holing enough 6-15ft putts.
I know this will take an extra 5 minutes after each round, but if you’re serious about improving you golf in the coming weeks, months and years then there is no excuse. These basic numbers should drive the practice structures you use, your coaching sessions and decision making on the course.