I frequently get asked the question, “What statistics can I use to measure my entire game?”
The issue is that while there are many advanced methods of statistics to use, they are often very cumbersome and golfers tend to forget to record their score, take too long to record the metrics, or end up inaccurately recording their metrics. That leads to a skewed analysis of their game.
I’ve done countless hours of research on the game, and usually have a pretty good idea on how I performed in each area after a round, but I still use certain metrics to assist with that analysis so I can schedule my practice accordingly.
One of the main scores I like to keep is a metric I created in the 2013 Pro Golf Synopsis called the 15/5 Score. The scoring system goes like this:
- Give yourself +1 point if your par save is within 5 feet of the hole.
- Give yourself +2 points if you have a birdie opportunity inside 15 feet of the hole.
- Give yourself +3 points if you have an eagle opportunity inside 15 feet of the hole.
- Take away -3 points if your par save is not within 5 feet of the hole.
For bogey shooters, you can alter this score by giving yourself +1 point if your bogey putt is within 5 feet of the hole and use that as the baseline.
I also only give one set of points for each hole. If I have a 12-foot birdie putt and hit the putt 6-feet past the cup, I only give myself +2 points for the birdie putt inside 15 feet. This is important to note because we can better decipher our putting skill using this methodology. I will go into that later in this article.
Another thing I like to keep track of is what I call “impedes.” These are any of the following:
- Ball goes O.B.
- Ball goes into the water
- Ball goes into a fairway bunker
- Ball goes into the tall rough
- Ball goes into the trees
- Anytime I have to hit above, below or around a tree
- Ball ends up in a divot
- Ball is plugged in a greenside bunker
- Ball goes into the greenside bunker on a par-3
I call them impedes because these are all shots where advancing the ball is impeded. Even if I’m behind a tree and can fairly easily clear the tree and put the ball on the green, I consider that an impede because that tree is still obstructing my advancement of the ball to the hole.
As far as the ball going into a divot, it is about things that impede your advancement to the hole, not about what is fair. You will find that when you can limit your impedes, you will often shoot a much better score than you typically would performing the same way from tee to green.
The other metrics I keep are:
- Fairway Hit
- Green In Regulation Hit
- Putts on the Hole
I am NOT a big fan of those metrics because they are woefully incomplete and misleading. But, combined with your total score, impedes and the 15/5 Score, we can better deduct how well we performed in certain parts of the game. These aren’t time consuming or cumbersome, but they can be very helpful metrics to record.
Here is an analysis of the points system of a recent round I completed. I will give my analysis of each round as well:
With the 15/5 Score, typically +10 will equate to around even par. This in part makes the analytics fairly easy; if the 15/5 score is at +10 and I shot above par, then we know that it was likely due to short game and putting miscues. Conversely, if I shoot even par and have a 15/5 score of less than +10, then we know that I was likely getting hot with the putter.
If I were to make a 25-foot putt for birdie, my 15/5 score would only be +1, but I still made the birdie. On the flip side, if I hit a chip shot to 3 feet and miss the putt and make bogey, my 15/5 score is still +1 and hence it helps dictate how well we are striking the ball versus how well we are putting.
In the scenario above, it is a little less clear since I shot 73 (2-over par), but had a 15/5 score of +6. This would indicate that my ball striking and short game/putting were in balance. Given that I shot a score of 2-over, my 15/5 score should have been around +6.
My total score was 2-over, so in order to improve upon that it usually means that the ball striking has to improve. When looking at the driving, I hit 9 out of 14 fairways which is not bad. More importantly, I only had two impeded shots. Upon further inspection, I played those holes where I had an impeded shot at -1-under. Therefore, the impeded shots were not overly damaging and I think it is safe to say that my driving was fine for this round, or at least not the reason why I did not break par.
We can then get a better idea of the iron play by looking at the Greens In Regulation (GIR). Since I was hitting the driver fairly well, I should have a good amount of GIR — and I did end up hitting 11 out of 18 Greens. But just as important, we need to look at the corresponding 15/5 scores per hole because hitting it close is more important than finding the green.
I hit a nice streak of hitting shots close on Nos. 8, 9 and 10 as I hit each shot inside 15 feet and converted the birdie try. Also, notice on the front nine that I had only 13 putts, which would be considered very good, but I had 19 putts on the back nine. That’s considered poor. However, I also hit 7 greens in regulation on the back nine. Furthermore, after the 10th hole, 5 out of the 6 GIR resulted in scores of +1 according to the 15/5 score, which means that I was hitting greens, but not hitting shots very close.
This gives an indication that my putting can stand room for improvement, but I had bigger issues with my performance with the irons. It was a bit windy that day, which makes it difficult to get approach shots close to the hole. But based on this round, I would say that iron play and putting should be given more focus.
Here’s a round from European Tour player Jamie Donaldson at the South Course at Torrey Pines:
We can see that Donaldson’s 15/5 Score was -1, while he shot even par for the round. Again, since his 15/5 score was low for his score, that indicates that his short game shots around the green and/or his putting was likely very good. And we can see that was clearly the case as Donaldson only hit 5/14 fairways, 10/18 Greens in Regulation and had two impeded shots.
On the flip side, he only had 27 putts and was 7 of 8 in scramble opportunities. We also see that Donaldson did not strike it well on the front nine, as his 15/5 Score was -10. On the back nine, however, he was far better as his 15/5 score was +9.
While I think there is the potential to have more accurate ways to analyze your entire game, I find the method I use to be very simple and practical. For bogey shooters, they can use the same type of 15/5 score, but they may want to alter the scoring system by 1 stroke (i.e. +2 points for a par putt inside 15 feet, +1 point for bogey putt inside 5 feet, etc). This still allows for the bogey golfer to accurately analyze their game, but also stresses the main point of the 15/5 Score — getting the ball closer to the hole.