You’re Practicing the Wrong Things

You want to be a better golfer.  We all do.  You read the magazines and the blogs, you watch Golf Channel, you go to the range.  Unfortunately you keep shooting high scores, and can’t figure out why.  Well, based on what I see, you’re practicing the wrong things.

The average golfer carries a 15 handicap.  That means he/she is shooting right around 90 each time out.  Basically bogey golf.  So that means there are 18 shots per round that you can improve on.  The scorecard tells you that your shot selection should look like this to achieve an even par round of 72:

  • 14 Tee Shots – presumably with Driver
  • 4 Lay-Ups
  • 18 Approach Shots (this includes the Par 3 Tee Shots)
  • 36 Putts

A 15 handicapper hits roughly 25% of their Greens in Regulation.  That same golfer gets it Up & Down only 25% of the time, as well.

  • 4.5 Greens in Regulation
  • 13.5 Chances to get it Up & Down to save Par.
  • 3.4 Successful Up & Downs
  • Leaves 10 failed opportunities to save a shot or more.

More than 60% of your golf shots take place within 100 yards of the flag.  Yet the majority of golfers beat driver after driver on the range.  Nobody comes into the store and hits wedges in the simulator or hitting bays.  Very few customers ask about the technologies invested in wedges or putters that can help lower their scores.

Every golfer has heard the saying “Drive for Show, Putt for Dough” ad nauseam, but those words carry a lot of weight.  At most you will only hit the “Big Dog” 14 times.  Even if you shoot 68, that’s only 25% of your strokes.  How much of your practice time goes into your driver?

According to Golf Digest, we use our putters on 41.3% of our shots.  And those wedges another 18-20%.  Yet the only time we work on the putting stroke is five minutes before our tee time to “gauge the speed”.

You can argue that hitting better drives or approach shots will lower your scores, and you would be right.  From a pure frequency argument, however, improving your putts per round and Up & Down percentages will improve your scores quicker.

So next time your buddies head to the range before a round, grab your flat stick and work on your short game.  The more you improve that the better your scores will be!  And maybe then you’ll start winning some of those bets.

2 thoughts on “You’re Practicing the Wrong Things

  1. Well said, Chris. And getting fit for that putter can be just as, if not Moreno, then being fit for that driver or set of irons. Having a putter that matches your stroke type, making sure you have the correct size grip, and that length/lie are correct can make all the difference. And when a GOOD putter can cost as much as a GOOD driver, you better get it fit.

    Nothing drives a dagger in the heart of an opponent by being able to get up and down from anywhere, and rolling in the occasional 20’er and nearly everything from 10’ and in. “You keep on hitting fairways with your driver. I’ll keep on taking your $$ on the green with my putter.”


  2. Chris
    Great blog
    100 yards in is where you can save strokes and keep up with the long hitters as well.
    Nothing like rolling in a 20 footer for par after reaching a long par four in three.
    The flat stick has always been my best friend
    See ya on the green!


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