Hit More Greens in Regulation
If you've been paying attention to the underlying "noise" around the PGA Tour, you realize that the winners each week are consistently high in one key statistical category – greens in regulation. With all the distance stats, putting stats and other, the statistics guys are beginning to zero in on the real truth -- the golfer who gives himself the most birdie opportunities is more likely to win.

The other side of that coin is that even a long approach putt is generally a lot easier shot than a routine chip or pitch, and certainly a lot more productive than a bunker shot or recovery from who-knows-what. We talk about how good these guys are around the greens, but the very best are only 55-70% in scrambling and/or bunker saves, and that's not anywhere close to their two-putts-or-better percentage.

So, no matter how you hit it from the tee, what really matters most to your scoring -- day in and day out -- is how many greens you are hitting in regulation. And since that's so important, let me suggest a few tips to help you improve that ratio:
  1. Play the right tees. The entire concept of "par" is that you should take two shots to reach a par-four hole and three to reach a par-five. On the one extreme, the PGA Tour pros have rendered par-fives non-existent. The number of holes each year that are just out of reach is a minimal number. And it's not a par-five if most of the field are hitting mid-irons on their second shot. On the recreational side, don't let your ego or testosterone get in the way of fun golf. Play the set of tees that allow you to play golf the way it was meant to be played. Tee it forward!

  2. Hit fairways. Even if you have to give up some of your distance, keep it in the short grass. Your ability to hit the green increases dramatically if you are not behind a tree, in deep rough or worse. I've written before about the driver being the first scoring club, because it is. Keep it in the short grass and your scores will go lower.

  3. Play for the "fat". Hogan was the maestro in hitting greens in regulation, far superior to any players today. But in his day, if you didn't win often, and at least finish in the top ten each week, you couldn't make enough money to stay out there. So he was notorious for hitting lots of greens. And his strategy was to do just that. Hogan advocated hitting to the middle of every green, knowing that a two-putt par was going to be pretty easy on two thirds of the holes and a make-able birdie putt on the other third. He would work the ball right or left to make it "chase" toward the hole, and high and low to keep it close to front or back pins. But the fat middle of the green is a very nice place to be most of the time.
So, try these tactics the next few rounds and see if your scoring doesn't improve. My bet is that it will open your eyes to a different way to play this game.
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[ comments ]
legitimatebeef says:
dtak84 says:
Hmmm, if you can't putt, girs don't mean very much.

Ie. Boo Weekely. 2011 - 1st in gir %, 180th money earned.
2012 - 5th gir %, 108th money earned
2013 - 6th gir %, 20th money earned

He's gone from losing -1.1 strokes gained putting in 2011 to just losing -0.6 in 2013.

Putting well goes hand in hand with gir %!
GolfSmith7 says:
Ah but you can't improve your G.I.R putting if you aren't on the green.
GBogey says:
dtak - possibly true, but I've never seen a bad putter who was a good chipper so they are still better off on the green.

Just to vent - I'm constantly shocked at players, even those who seem to be reasonably with it, who hit driver every hole no matter what. Mind boggling.
slimpks1850 says:
Does the Putts per GIR stat matter in this case?
jasonfish11 says:
slimp - only if it is higher than the chip + putts per missed GIR.

If it's lower then just hit the damn green. If its higher try to miss the green on purpose.
joe jones says:
Wedge Guy. I agree with everything you have said but would like to expand your comments about Hogan. One of the reasons he played not only to the center of the green he played to the position to have as many straight up hill putts as possible. He was a poor putter for much of his career and was trying to take as much pressure off himself as he could. He admitted one time that the reason he only had 2 holes in one during his career was because he never aimed at the pin. He always played for position. Especially at Augusta where the greens were so difficult.
slimpks1850 says:
jasonfish11 - I follow that. I guess the buck stops with what's your score. The question I have mulled over is: What leads to my lowest scores? (I'd guess it's a different answer for a good player)

Forgot to mention last post - beef, that's funny. Got a laugh outa that one.
golfingbumunderpar64 says:
I was on board until #3. I play for the flag.........stupid stupid boy. But however on the leaderboard with 50 scores entered and men only im ranked #45 with 65.9% gir. Hitting greens makes a huge difference in scoring.
Dtak84 - you make a hellva point. Last time I hit 15 greens I had 36 putts. Kind of a bummer.
jasonfish11 says:
bum that's nothing. My best ball striking round I shot 80. I had 40 putts. I wanted to vomit after my last 3 putt dropped. At that time 80 tied my low round.
golfingbumunderpar64 says:
Holy crap Jason. That makes me sick to think of that. Knowing if you had a norm putting rd you would've shot lights out. But somehow we still love this game.
joe jones says:
Jason. Look at it this way. You could of had a bad ball striking day and shot 110.
Anti-Mulligan says:
Wedgeguy - hitting greens is great until you never make a putt and proceed to take more than 36 putts. Then you need to not only hit the green but give yourself a reasonable chance at rolling one in. Great article but even for most amatuers they will 3 putt a lot from 20-30ft.
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