Putt for dough, a little misleading

I recently heard a stat that I was dumbfounded by:
The average putts for tour pros per round is 29 while the average putts for an 18 handicap is 33. Four strokes difference.

Now can that win a tournament at the PGA lever, absolutely, but remember these guys are probably all within a stroke of each other.

The argument is always that the putter is the most used club in the bag, and I am guilty of spreading the lie. It is definitely the most used club in the bag but often times that second putt is from 3ft or less so it’s not really being “used” per sei.

Here is where the stat gets interesting. The most important shot in golf is from inside 100 yards. The difference between a tour pro and the same aforementioned handicapper is 9 strokes. Add in a few errant tee shots with your driver, the actual most “used” club in the bag and you’re easily a 2 handicap without much more work.

So while putting is very important working from 100 yards in and making sure your driver stays in play will help your scores tremendously.

It’s said that of you had a tour pro take all of your shot from 100 in and putted your own purse and made no mistakes with your driver, they would only beat you by about 3-4 strokes. ‘Now those are some numbers I could live with.

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Approach I think is the biggest difference. If you set up a match between two teams. One has a tour pro play all your shots outside 100 yards and you play them from inside 100 yards. The other has you play the shots from outside 100 yards and the tour pro inside 100. You should put all of your money on the first team. They’ll win at a canter.

Your “made no mistakes with your driver” is doing a LOT of work in that last sentence.


Yous guys are correct.
Decent article from National Club Golfer on this.

At the end of the day, pros are pretty much better at everything than amateurs… it’s just how it shows up in the game.

Realistically, to play well, you have to do most things well… Drive, approach and putt. You can pick up and lose strokes on parts of it, but all three have to be above average to make it on the tour. (scrambling and wedge game are important too!).

The new mentality I’m trying to get to is as follow:
Driver is important to get into play as far down the hole as possible… Eliminating big misses and penalties with driver is a huge driver for scoring, and hitting the ball far and into the fairway positions you for good approach shots.

Approach shots: Put these on the green. Pro players have smaller dispersion patterns, but if we know our own, we can hit the green and put ourselves in the position to 2 putt (with a chance to make birdie)

Putting: This is more about not hurting yourself… You can’t count on making long putts, but working to eliminate 3 putts will create more 1 putts. Consistently being around the hole is key here.

Putts per round isn’t a great stat, as it doesn’t capture how many feet of putt you hit during the round… If I shot a 72 with 36 putts, and all of them started at 20 feet, I’d be far less concerned about my putting than I was my approach shots… I’ve had 11 putts on 9 holes. I did not putt well (I did chip well).

The awesome thing about golf is all the skills interact with each other… you can make yourself look like a phenomenal putter by being a great ball striker… You can improve your approach shots by driving the ball farther.

Personally, I’m working on my putting because I know it’s below average… but the key is it’s below average for ME and I know I can improve on it. I’m working on other things, but will have a significantly better return on investment by improving my putting over anything else.

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It really all goes back to Jon’s article on The 2/3 Rule & What It Means for Your Game. All phases are involved with scoring and looking at stats for just one in a silo is going to be a bit misleading. Since the mid-handicapper is missing the green more often, they are chipping more often, leaving shorter putts. I’d venture to guess that the performance difference between tour pros and 18 handicaps from say 15 feet (on tour fast greens) would be more significant than straight up putts per round numbers.

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It goes back to Every Shot Counts and Strokes Gained analysis. Broadie’s work suggests that about 2/3 of the difference between players of different abilities comes from full-swing stuff, 1/3 from putting and short game. Putting is perceived as being more important because we look at as full-stroke differences, and because its the last thing that happens. And because that’s been the conventional wisdom for decades. For those who want to analyze putting, there are Strokes Gained calculators available online. Most compare you to a “typical pro”, so something like a +4 to +6 handicap. Thinking that maybe 25% of the difference comes from putting, and being a 4 or 5 handicap, my goal is to lose 3 strokes or less on average. When I do that over a reasonable stretch, I’m putting around normal for my skill level.