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Where is your game on golf’s seesaw?



“What’s the most important stat in golf?” As a golf statistician, I’m asked that question more than any other. To answer it, I explain that there isn’t a most important stat I can point to for all golfers. We all have our own strengths and weaknesses and find our own special way to reach our number. That being said, the question is still an important one that deserves further study.

Research into my company ( database of 280,000+ rounds reveals that the game is actually a very important balance of different facets of the game, and I have yet to see a player that performed at the same handicap level across all five facets of the game in my 29+ years of golf analysis. Golfers of all levels are balancing the number and frequency of good shots/good results against the frequency of errors.

I refer to this as Golf’s SeeSaw Effect.


The secret to scoring at every level is much more than the ability to hit good shots. It’s also the skill to manage one’s game and limit the frequency and severity of bad shots or errors.

When I started my company over 29 years ago, I discovered that one of the major deficiencies in golf statistics was that they did not address the negatives in the game. Even today, the PGA Tour produces 650+ stats on each player and only ONE of them addresses a negative: 3 Putt Avoidance. In fact, when I search the Tour’s ShotLink stats for “Penalties,” I get the surprising answer below.


Are we to assume that penalties do not happen on Tour? Believe me, they do!

The significant role that errors play in our games led me to make sure that I built them into my version of Game Analysis ( As you can see by the graphic above, the seesaw effect is that the more good shots/results on the left match up with the fewer errors on the right, the lower the one’s handicap will be.

Good Shots/Results Defined

  • Greens Hit in Regulation (GIR’s).
  • Chip/Pitch shots hit to within 5 feet of the hole (Chip/Pitch = shots from within 50 yards of the hole).
  •  Sand shots hit to within 8 feet of the hole (Sand = shots from sand within 50 yards of the hole).
  •  1-Putts from 4–10 feet (or greater).

Errors Defined

  • Tee shots hit out of play (requiring an advancement, or resulting in a penalty).
  • Chip/Pitch shots that miss the green either short or long; fringe results are not errors.
  • Sand Shots that miss the green either short or long; fringe results are not errors.
  • 3-Putts from 30 feet and closer.

The seesaw graphic above is telling us the following about the zero handicap golfer:

Good Shots/Results = 18 (on average per round)

  • GIR’s: 12
  • Chip/Pitch shots to 5 feet: 2.5
  • Sand shots to 8 feet: 0.5
  • 1-Putts from 4-10 feet: 3

Errors = 1 (on average per round)

  • Tee shots hit out of play: 0.4
  • Chip/Pitch shots miss green: 0.2
  • Sand Shots miss green: 0.1
  • 3-Putts from 30 feet or closer: 0.3

Note: How can a golfer hit a Tee shot out of play 0.4 times per round? Easy. The zero handicap golfer will make one of these driving errors on average every 2.5 rounds or four in every 10 rounds.

Record these simple stats on a separate scorecard for the next 3-5 rounds to see where you fall on Golf’s SeeSaw. This exercise will reveal the true strengths and weaknesses of your game.

For a Complete Strokes Gained analysis of your game, log on to

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In 1989, Peter Sanders founded Golf Research Associates, LP, creating what is now referred to as Strokes Gained Analysis. His goal was to design and market a new standard of statistically based performance analysis programs using proprietary computer models. A departure from “traditional stats,” the program provided analysis with answers, supported by comparative data. In 2006, the company’s website,, was launched. It provides interactive, Strokes Gained analysis for individual golfers and more than 150 instructors and coaches that use the program to build and monitor their player groups. Peter has written, or contributed to, more than 60 articles in major golf publications including Golf Digest, Golf Magazine and Golf for Women. From 2007 through 2013, Peter was an exclusive contributor and Professional Advisor to Golf Digest and Peter also works with PGA Tour players and their coaches to interpret the often confusing ShotLink data. Zach Johnson has been a client for nearly five years. More recently, Peter has teamed up with Smylie Kaufman’s swing coach, Tony Ruggiero, to help guide Smylie’s fast-rising career.



  1. Tom54

    Apr 3, 2017 at 3:41 pm

    Interesting formula. I know after every round good or bad I always mentally go over the good vs bad shots. The nice shots aren’t always a given but the bad shots that all of us piss away are the ones that always prevent a better score simple shots like missing greens with wedges, 3 putts, etc. eliminating those wasted shots are usually the key to keeping your hdcp in check. That’s the allure of this frustrating game we all love.

  2. Bob Jones

    Apr 3, 2017 at 10:55 am

    Here is how to evaluate EVERY shot (except maybe 1-foot putts):

    If I hit every [whatever shot you’re evaluating] like this one, I would:
    a. shoot par
    b. shoot 80
    c. shoot 90
    d. shoot 100
    e. take up tennis

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Hidden Gem of the Day: ColoVista Golf Club in Bastrop, Texas



These aren’t the traditional “top-100” golf courses in America, or the ultra-private golf clubs you can’t get onto. These are the hidden gems; they’re accessible to the public, they cost less than $50, but they’re unique, beautiful and fun to play in their own right. We recently asked our GolfWRX Members to help us find these “hidden gems.” We’re treating this as a bucket list of golf courses to play across the country, and the world. If you have a personal favorite hidden gem, submit it here!

Today’s Hidden Gem of the Day was submitted by GolfWRX member Austincountyag, who takes us to ColoVista Golf Club in Bastrop, Texas. In his description of the course, Austincountyag tells us how it’s a tale of two very different nines at ColoVista.

“The course is usually in decent to great shape, and for the price, it is very hard to beat in the greater Austin area. The front nine is a links type of layout, while the back nine provides dramatic elevation changes as the holes wind through pine trees along the Colorado River.”

According to ColoVista Golf Club’s website, 18 holes during the week will cost $40, while the rate rises to $50 should you want to play on the weekend.




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TG2: Stacks of Kuchar jokes | What irons would you have reissued?



Danny Lee has some SWEET Mizuno MP-32 in the bag and it makes us ask the question, “What irons would you want reissued?” But before that we have to make a bunch jokes about the Matt Kuchar/El Tucan situation.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

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Match Play: 10 most romantic golf destinations



Golf is usually a game for four but there are times when two is just the right number. When you want to get away from it all with your favorite partner, here are the 10 best places for a perfect match of luxury resort and world-class golf.

The Resort: Villa Del Palmar Loreto Resort – Loreto, Mexico
The Course: TPC Danzante Bay (Rees Jones)

Villa Del Palmar Loreto

#17 at TPC Danzante Bay

Located on the Monterrey Peninsula, Villa Del Palmar features stunning beaches, snorkeling, walking trails and a top-level spa. Jacuques Cousteau spent weeks at time enjoying the amazing array of marine life of Danzante Bay. The golf course is one of the most scenic anywhere, especially the par-3 17th.

The Resort: Primland Resort – Meadows of Dan, VA
The Course: Highland Course at Primland Resort (Donald Steel)

This mountaintop resort on the Virginia/North Carolina border combines European sophistication with Southern hospitality.  Offers a wide variety of outdoor activities including riding and sporting clays. Bathrooms feature tubs big enough for two. The course is challenging for any skill level and has gorgeous mountain vistas.

The Resort: Adare Manor – Killane, Ireland
The Course: The Golf Course at Adare Manor (Robert Trent Jones, Sr./Tom Fazio)

You’ll feel like a resident of Downton Abbey the moment you enter the gates. The stately home was recently renovated by Irish magnate JP McManus and features some of the most luxurious rooms in all of Europe. The newly renovated course rivals Augusta for its perfect conditioning. Will definitely host a Ryder Cup.

The Resort: Four Seasons Lanai – Lanai, HI
The Course: Manele Golf Course (Jack Nicklaus)

The smallest Hawaiian island is home to a 5-star resort with lush grounds, perfect beaches and award-winning restaurants. Be sure to take a walk to Sweetheart Rock at sunset. The Manele Golf Course is both majestic and subtle, in many ways the Golden Bear’s best design.

Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve – Dorado Beach, Puerto Rico
The Course: TPC Dorado Beach East Course (Robert Trent Jones. Sr/Robert Trent Jones, Jr.)

Every detail is taken care of at Dorado Beach, the gold standard resort in Puerto Rico. Book a couples massage at the spa; in fact, plan to spend a full day there. You won’t want to leave. The golf course has hosted the PGA tour when it comes to the island, and probably still should be. A classic RTJ/Rockefeller collaboration.

The Resort: The Manor House at Fancourt – George, South Africa
Golf Course: The Links at Fancourt Country Club (Gary Player)

Fancourst is one oft he most exclusive destinations on the continent and the Manor House offers the highest level of comfort and service on the property. Beautifully appointed rooms and old world charm are the hallmarks of Fancourt. Did I mention that each room has a personal butler? There are several course on property but Player’s Link design is a masterpiece.

The Resort: Pueblo Bonito Pacifica Golf Resort & Spa – Los Cabos, Mexico
The Course: Quivira Golf Club (Jack Nicklaus)

Set atop a hill overlooking the Pacific, Pueblo Bonito has a modern sophistication and a knack for anticipating your needs. Guests are eligible to visit the other Pueblo Bonito resorts in Cabo for dining and dancing. Plenty of ocean views on Quivira course and have a complementary tequila shot before you play the par-4 4th. You’ll need it.

The Resort: Inn at Perry Cabin – St. Michaels, MD
The Course: Links at Perry Cabin (Pete Dye)

This charmer was featured in the movie “The Wedding Crashers”. Quaint colonial buildings contain all the modern comforts. Go sailing, visit the spa and sample from their extensive wine collection. The new course has all the beauty and torture you would expect from a Pete Dye layout.

The Resort: Gleneagles Hotel – Perthshire, Scotland
The Courses: Kings Course (James Braid)

Playground to rich and powerful as well as host to the Ryder Cup, Gleneagles has a reputation for perfection and it delivers. Tennis, riding, shooting and falconry will have to feeling like royalty. The Nicklaus Centenary course hosted the Ryder Cup but the Kings Course is pure Scotland.

The Resort: Chateau du Coudreceau – Loury, France
The Course: Chateau du Coudreceau (Arnold Palmer Design)

Want to be alone? Rent this magnificent chalet, which only hosts one quest party at a time. You’ll get used to having a full staff and planning your custom menu for every meal. And Paris is just an hour away. The golf course only has 14 holes but you can route it to to play as many as you like, and you even choose your own daily pin placements.




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19th Hole