More On "Keeping Score"
Here’s a follow-up to the post I wrote on comparing your game and scoring to the PGA Tour players. We talked about how the best in the world only hit 70% of the fairways and 65% of the greens, but they are excellent in sand saves and putting. Here's some more condensed stats to chew on as you work to refine your short game.

Corey Pavin leads the tour in scrambling this year, saving par 66.76% of the time when he misses a green. But the others aren’t far behind him. The #50 player is still saving par almost 60% of the time, and all the way down to #125 finds a scrambling percentage over 56%. So, the lesson here is that these guys are practicing their short games a great deal so that they still make pars when they miss greens. And they are playing tough courses with fast and firm greens most of the time.

My suggestion for you is to keep a score sheet when you play, and see how you do when you miss greens. It doesn’t matter what your handicap, I’ll bet you’ll quickly see that this is where you can shave some strokes in a hurry.

Moving along with these tour stats, let’s examine putting. We talked about how these guys hit only 12-13 greens a round on average, and the above stats would indicate they are making 2-3 bogeys, but saving par on the others. But look at what they do when they have birdie putts. Bob Tway leads the tour this year with a 32.13% conversion rate – he’s making almost 1 out of every 3 birdie putts he has ! That’s remarkable. I had a solid ball-striking round yesterday and converted one of 10. Guess I need to work on putting more, huh ?

Behind Tway, the number 50 player converts at a 28% clip, and #125 still is at 26+%. So, even the #125 guy on tour converts his birdie attempts at better than 1 for 4 !

And on total putts, the tour leader is Luke Donald at 27.67 per round, with the #50 spot being 28.84, and the #125 spot at 29.40. Less than two putts difference between the tour leader and the #125 player !

My point to all this writing about tour stats is this: Keep track not just of your scores, but how you get to each one. Note your putting stats and your scrambling stats, and you’ll quickly see a very clear road map to where you can improve in a hurry. It will not take hours and hours of practice to improve your short game dramatically. Just give your short game and putting ½ of your practice time and your handicap will improve quickly.

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[ comments ]
Joe Bartlett says:
I have recently started keeping track of my scores much like you have said. I even went as far as to set up an excel spreadsheet with all the stats to see where I struggle the most.

I used to shoot in the low 100's as recently as 2 months ago. Then I started analyzing my game and have watched my average score fall to the mid 90's. What I found was I was struggling with putting, averaging almost 3 putts per hole, and I was struggling with my wedges. The driver wasn't much of an issue, as I would hit 60% of fairways or more, and when I was in the rough, it was usually in the first cut near the fairway. My irons are almost spot on. The only issue I have is that I tend to not aim properly and thus miss the green by shooting left or right.

Once I started working on my putting game and wedges, I've shaved almost 10 strokes per round, and I'm just getting started. I've gone to averaging about 2 putts per hole now. The wedges still need a bit of work. I tend to chunk it when trying to get it to sit close to the pin or I will blade it. Neither nets good results.

Your advice about analyzing your game to find your shortcoming is sound. It's helped me as it lets me know exactly where I need to focus to improve my game.
Tim says:
I can't remember who said it but one of the young golfers playing his first British Open last weekend came off the course and said he was blown away by how deadly the pros are on and around the greens. He said there wasn't a huge difference whacking the ball down the pipes but he was crushed like a bug around the green. I'm sure his training habits have changed in the past week.
wedgeguy says:
Joe, your experience is exactly what I was talking about. An analysis of y our scores will tell you where your quickest reductions can come from. Keep it up and keep us posted, will you?

And Tim, you are right on target. I've heard from many who've tested themselves at the top level and all say the same thing. Isn't it amazing what 2-3 hours of practice EVERY DAY will do for your short game skills?
Steve Wozeniak PGA says:
Great post Terry!!!! The hardest part is getting people to practice this they seem to think the short game is boring even though most know it's importance..........I try to find games and drills for them to try. Keep making those GREAT wedges I have a lot of people happy with them!!
Michael says:
Fascinating stuff. It really is. We/I get so bummed at missing fairways and particularly at missing greens and I'm often thinking, just get out of here with a bogey. It's still about getting out of there with par in those situations!
Tim Horan says:
Great subject!
Not being too clever with a putter in my hand I find my best rounds are when I often miss the green with my approach shot. A short chip usually leaves me a tap- in for pars or birdies if I am lucky.
I find that these rounds simplify the game and my thought process is to "chip and one putt". Beating yourself up over missing a green will only make the chip harder to execute.
Scrambling it may be but It's a great buzz winning and breaking handicap.
wedgeguy says:

If your chipping is good and your lag putting . . . not so good, try thinking of your long lag putts like chips. Engage the same senses and shot analysis routine you use to hit chips close. I'll bet your lag putting woes are due to distance control, so here are two tips to help. First, grip the putter lightly so that your full senses can be engaged. And secondly, try to see the putter hit the ball; in other words . . . STAY DOWN through the shot. Let me know if these help.

Tim Horan says:
I found gripping lightly helped a little but staying down didn't show any great improvement.

I am reminded of a survey that was done last year on mid to long putting woes where the putts within a 2ft radius average went up from 73% to 89% when the golfer looked at the hole rather than looking at the ball. Do any of you bloggers have any experience of this?
wedgeguy says:

If your lag putting woes are from poor speed control, they you are just not getting enough sensory input prior to the stroke -- try this. As you look over your putt, stand beside the ball and make slow, deliberate practice strokes while looking at the hole. Use the practice stroke and your intent visual focus on the hole to provide your body with input as to how much force to put into the stroke. When you look back down at the ball, make sure you have a clear mental picture of that hole, and make your stroke. You might even experiment with looking at the hole while you putt, but I'm guessing you will have a considerable number of mishits doing that. But it certainly is worth trying -- anything to pique your eye-hand coordination, as that is what this is all about.
Tim Horan says:
Thanks Terry,

I have been using that technique as a pre putt routine for some time.
I line up the putt from behind the ball, approach and looking at the hole swing the putter back and forth until I think I've got the weight right, step over the ball, one look and strike.

It works... but not all of the time and at present I just seem to have lost the feel for anything over about 20 foot.

I am much better with a 8 iron in my hand and getting better with the new wedges from around the green.

I think my putting woes are perhaps not helped by me constantly changing my putter (I have five) and each get a good innings each year.

I have sort of settled on my Futura branding iron recently but still like my Ray Cook Americana II on really fast greens.
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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