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A Better Game By The Numbers

As seen in New Jersey State Golf Magazine April 2007


By Michael Andrusin, NJPGA


I have a funny habit of going through old magazines and tearing out pages that have interesting information on them.  My wife laughs at me when it’s time to recycle the papers and magazines.  I go through months old and sometimes year old stuff looking for anything I may have missed the first time around.  I envision my golf instructional collection to be something like Mike’s Little Red Book some day.  There are two particular articles I keep going back to.  They both are a statistical analysis of how charting your game will uncover your handicap and help you realize what you need to do to reduce it.

Lou Riccio wrote an article in the February 2001 Golf Digest called “Charting Your Goals”.  Riccio was a member of the USGA Handicap Research Team that developed the USGA Slope System.  Peter Sanders wrote “How to Play Par Golf” in the January 1996 Golf Magazine.  Sanders was the President of Golf Research Associates.  Looking at both articles over time and knowing how average golfers still struggle to reduce their handicap I find their following conclusions still valid.

One of the more important statistics in golf is the number of greens hit in regulation.  The scratch golfer will hit 12 out of 18 greens in regulation.  The bogey golfer will hit 3 or 4 greens per round. The “Tiger” stat is more like 14 greens in regulation.  Riccio added his own twist to this stat.  Double the number of greens you hit in regulation, and subtract the answer from 95.  If you broke 95, the result is probably within two stokes of your actual score.

Another area of the game that was addressed was greenside up and down for par percentage.  In order to break 100, chances are you would need to get up and down for par once or twice a round.  To break 90, figure on making par from off the green 20% of the time and a scratch golfer will push that percentage to75%.

When the scratch golfer misses on average six greens in regulation, they make up for that with six one putts and between 29 and 30 total putts per round.  The bogey golfer averages 34-35 putts.  In order to shrink those handicaps think about those putts that you don’t make.

Finally, in order to really start lowering your score, focus on making pars or better in your round.  If you make or beat par 5 times per round you probably are an 18 handicap.  Push that number to 10 and your handicap falls to about 9 and if you are a scratch golfer chances are you are making or beating par 15 times per round.  Wouldn’t that be cool!

I am sure you will find at least one of the checkpoints listed above useful in the preparation to lower your handicap.  If you are already charting your rounds, you may have already seen similar results to the ones mentioned.  That’s why golf is such a great game because you don’t always have to be the biggest or fastest in the game, but you do have to get the ball in the hole.



  1. Bruna

    wow, very interesting, keep sharing these things with us!

    1. Michael Andrusin

      Thanks for the kind words. Keep reading. Mike

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