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Opinion & Analysis

The Rule of 24: How to shoot low scores like a tour pro without changing anything in your game



I play a lot of golf, mostly at municipal courses, generally with average golfers who suffer from the current epidemic of LOFT (Lack of F***ng Talent). A couple of months ago, watching a pair older guys ride the struggle bus, I thought “someone’s gotta make this better.” When one of my regular playing partners called to tell me had quit, that he was done with the game, that he had other ways to torture himself, I set out to find a solution for him and everyone else who ain’t never gonna play on tour.

Unlocking a solution wasn’t easy. I thought about the question for months and months getting nowhere. And then one day I asked myself a simple question: How far does the average PGA Tour pro hit the ball? The number 300 immediately popped into my head. Next, I asked myself, how long is the average PGA tour course? 7,200 yards popped into my head. Then, I started doing some simple math in my head and stumbled on a simple key: 7,200 divides by 300 into a nice, neat number: 24. The average PGA Tour course is roughly 24 times as long as the average tour player drives the ball.

Could 24 times your driving distance be a basic anchor for how long of a course people should play? Could 24 be some sort of a key to unlocking the game?

Walking on the golf course the other day, I wondered what the rule of 24 would mean for my playing companions. First, there was Steve. He is a mid-40s investment banker who says he hits the ball 210 off the tee but really hits it about 180. He plays a course that is 6,200 yards short. His ratio? 34.4. Yikes. Then there is Patricia, his wife. She hit it about 130 and plays from 5,600—a ratio of 43! Okay folks, Dustin Johnson’s ratio is below 24, Steve’s is 34 and Patricia’s is 43. Who do you think is having more fun playing golf? No wonder the average golfer struggles, I thought, they are playing courses almost 2x the proportional length of a PGA Tour player’s course with 50 percent less power and accuracy. That ain’t nothing but crazy.

Based on that small piece of research, I decided to take the question a step further by asking a couple of more questions: How many greens in regulation does the average PGA Tour player hit vs the average 20 handicap male? The answer is approximately 12 for the PGA Tour player and one for the 20 handicaps. But why? My instincts suggested distance. I called a couple of stats people and asked a question: At what distance does the average 20 handicap man and 20 handicap women hit the green approximately 50% of the time? No one knew. So, I decided to do some really basic data collection to see what I would find. A week later and several 1,000 balls hit on the range by anyone and everyone I could round up later and measured on my launch monitor, the data suggested the distance of the 20 handicap men is approximately 110 yards and for the women, it’s 60 yards.

So how many times would a guy who hits it 180 have 110 yards on an average 6,200 golf course? Basically never. Pretty much same with the ladies hitting it from 5,600. No wonder the average 20 handicapper hits one green per round (if they are lucky)!

Armed with the data, I decided to test it with my favorite golfer—my mom. On a normal drive, my mom hits it about 135 yards. She plays to a 38 handicap. Based on my math, she should be playing a course that is about 2,430 yards. From that distance, she should hit 14 drives approximately 1,890 yards, leaving approximately 30 yards to each green on an 18 hole course.

With this math in mind, I created a 9-hole course and took her to play. The result? She hit 7 greens in regulation, had 2 birdies and 2 bogeys and shot even par. Did she have fun? Did she feel good. How did you feel the last time you shot even par? Exactly…

Since that day with my mom, I have been testing my method with others. Yesterday, I got paired with a lovely older gentleman named Michael. Michael is in his late 60s, is a lifetime golfer with a lovely swing and keenness for the game that was evident from the moment I met him.

Unfortunately, through the first 6 holes, from the senior tees, Michael failed to make anything better than double bogey and was very frustrated; his two longest shots were nowhere close to the green. On 7, I told him about the rule of 24 and asked if he would like to try it out? He agreed. I did the math. I walked him to 203 yards from the green. He hit an average driver and had about 85 yards. He pulled his 7 iron and hit a nice shot that hopped twice and ended about 18 feet from the pin. I gave him a high five and said “good par!”

“Par?” Michael asked, “Really, Brendan, I’m knocking that putt in!” Which he did. His first birdie in two years. Pretty cool.

Okay, folks, you all like to hit the big club far, but I gotta tell you something, I have yet to find someone who doesn’t prefer shooting par.

At this point, some of my math-inclined readers might be upset because they have figured out that based on my math, someone who flies it 240 would play 5,760. Immediately this might raise some eyebrows; that’s why there is another step: adding additional yardage to account that some of the holes will be par 5’s. To account for this, based on conditions, here are the additions of yardage

  • Players who drive it up to 100 yards; add up to 250 yards
  • Players who drive it between 101-225; add up to 750 yards
  • Players who drive it more than 225; add up to 1,000 yards

So do your own math or email me, and I will figure out your real average driving distance by 24 for you and tell you how long your average course should be to have the same chance at par (and fun) tour players do.

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Brendan is the owner of Golf Placement Services, a boutique business which aims to apply his background in golf and higher education to help educate players, their families and coaches about the process! Website - Insta - golf.placement.sevices Twitter @BMRGolf



  1. Barry

    Oct 28, 2019 at 10:24 pm

    Loved it, great article. We just need course designers to incorporate additional tees to accommodate the appropriate length of course.

  2. Ian

    Oct 26, 2019 at 7:21 am

    in Germany where I live most courses are longer than 6000m (over 6500 yards) from the mens tees. So nice theorie but no chance ????

  3. Pete

    Oct 24, 2019 at 5:41 pm

    Holy cow, please re-write that first paragraph … I think you showed a LOFT and were riding the struggle bus as an author when tryIng to draw in your audience with that start. Otherwise, very interesting article.

  4. Brandon

    Oct 24, 2019 at 3:07 pm

    I like to cheat at things I’m bad at, too.

    • larrybud

      Oct 24, 2019 at 3:51 pm

      Who is to say the ratio should be linear or that the ratio should use a driver for the baseline?

      According to trackman, the average pga tour player carries a 6 iron 183 yards. If i use a 6 iron ratio, I would be playing a course 700 yards longer than if I use the “rule of 24”. Why is your method any better than mine?

      This simple example proves the ratio should not be linear.

      You can also prove this to yourself by calculating the ratio between driver and, say, 9 iron, for a pro vs your own distances.

      The pro carries his 9 iron 54% of his carry distance on driver. The slower your swing speed, the larger ratio a 9 iron is to your driver.

      BTW, the average carry distance on tour is 275.

      • larrybud

        Oct 24, 2019 at 3:52 pm

        sorry, didn’t mean to reply to you, but to the article.

  5. MarkBlack

    Oct 24, 2019 at 1:13 pm

    Great article. Gets me thinking. The problem is determining a driver length average. I know, seems doable enough but I vary between 220 and 310 on the same hole and with the same wind. YES – no bueno. Am a 5 handicap.

    5 iron much more predictable.

    I feel bad for short hitters, such as many ladies. They rarely get the opportunity to have GIR, even with pretty swings. 90% of courses do not have tees for someone who drives it 150.
    For me, distance of the course has less to do with my score than focus and staying on my game plan.

    Thank you for a thought provoking article.

  6. Brad M

    Oct 24, 2019 at 12:38 pm

    I’m always curious about the “average drive” as a basis for this type of advice. Is it avg. drive in the fairway? Avg. drive that’s playable (not needing a punch-out from trees, for example)?

    I typically play 6400-6800 yards. I’m 55 years old and an 10.6 hcap, maybe I’m your target for this article, maybe I’m not. If I’m not, then you might not need to read the rest.

    Here’s my barometer for fun, enjoyable golf. If I hit a decently struck drive in the fairway (for me 260), there are few 4’s and 5’s I can’t reach in regulation (or better) with my next shots. The challenge is that sometimes that’s a 4 iron, sometimes that’s a wedge. And if I miss the fairway, I want par to less likely and to use all my skill/creativity to eke one out. I like to play all my clubs, so this challenge is one of my favorite parts of the game. Will I hit a high percentage? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. But to have it be all driver/wedge would remove a significant part of the fun.

    I play one very easy course, par 71, 6570yds and wide open, very little trouble. My 78’s and 79’s there are not nearly as satisfying as my 83’s and 84’s at more challenging courses, and even some of my 89’s elsewhere are more fun than driver/wedge all day.

    Many of us play for the challenge, and going lower by shortening the course isn’t that fun. When I start holding up golfers behind me because I’m taking too long, I promise I’ll shorten things up. But playing shorter just to shoot more 70’s than 80’s isn’t my idea of having more fun with golf. I do completely agree that many should move up. But there are reasons why some of us don’t.

  7. S

    Oct 24, 2019 at 9:42 am

    This is great stuff. Good research.

  8. B-Dubbs

    Oct 24, 2019 at 6:55 am

    I like it. I’ve heard a similar thing that I like better. Take your 5 iron carry distance and multiply by 36. Carry it 150? Should play from 5400. 195? 7000 is your distance.

    • Brad M

      Oct 24, 2019 at 12:43 pm

      I think this is a better barometer, the distance variability is reduced with 5iron so you’ll have a more accurate number. This actually shows I should be playing longer than my usual 6600-6800, and I can survive at 7000, but at the moment, that’s usually too much of a grind.

  9. paul rooney

    Oct 24, 2019 at 6:09 am

    Its a great insight into driving distance and length of course, it would be interesting to have a formula for SSS or slope! or a personal slope(ability) for example:

    driving distance /2 – handicap = personal slope – slope = score

    just a thought

  10. freowho

    Oct 24, 2019 at 4:16 am

    Longleaf tee system has already done all the work. You might get sued for plagiarism!

  11. Drew

    Oct 24, 2019 at 12:11 am

    I like the rule of 24. But shouldn’t we also account for handicap. My 20+ buddie can crush a drive 300 yards no problem (1 out of 5 tries). But no way should he be playing from the tips.

  12. Bob Jones

    Oct 23, 2019 at 7:24 pm

    I agree wholeheartedly with the rule of 24. My research several years ago produced a number of 25, but that’s close enough.

    What I do now is take the distance of my average (not best) drive, and add on the distance I carry a 7-iron. I play from the tees that give me half the par fours at that combined distance or less.

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Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: Birdie holes and other myths



I am an ardent observer of self-destructive things I see golfers do and hear golfers say, and one that really gets me is when I hear someone stand on the tee and proclaim, “This is a birdie hole.”
Really? How do you know when you haven’t even hit your drive yet, much less your approach? If you’re a 12 handicap, let’s say, there are really only 5-6 “par” holes out here; how can you think this one is a “birdie hole”?

This game is tough, and making birdies is the toughest achievement out there. Very few are made without hitting two better-than-average shots, or at least one remarkable one, whether the approach or the putt. Think about that for a minute. You could be a scratch golfer and never make one! Eighteen pars and a bogey or or two will get you to scratch on most courses. If you are an 8 handicap, that means you average about 82 or so, which equates to 8 pars and 10 bogeys in a round – what are you doing thinking about making a birdie at all, much less while on the tee?

My advice is that if you are a 10 handicap or higher, your singular thought on the tee should be to not make a double or higher. Chances are you don’t hit the driver 280-plus and you don’t hit even half the fairways. If you track your rounds, I’d bet you will find a high relativity of drives out of the fairway to doubles (or worse) put on the scorecard.

So let’s assume you got off the tee well, now what? When you face your approach shot, my advice is to figure out which side of the green gives you the best chance of getting up and down and the least odds of facing a short-side difficult pitch. And there’s never anything wrong with targeting the fat middle of the green, regardless of where the pin is located. On most courses, a ball in the dead center of the green will give you a half dozen or more reasonable putts, and the rest will not be overly long or difficult. The next round you play, just stand in the middle of the green after you are done and survey the putt that ball position would have given you.

Here’s another interesting and enlightening drill for you if you find yourself out for a day of learning on the golf course. On each hole, after your drive and approach, play a second ball from the “safe” side of the green, just as if you had missed your approach to this safe side. Then hit a pitch or chip and putt it out. Keep that score on along with the score you actually made and see how you come out.

I’ve been blessed to have played to a low handicap my whole life, and I am an entrepreneur…but I really do not have a gambler personality. On the golf course, I want to have fun, and I’ve learned that trying to save pars from the short side really doesn’t deliver that. If I’m tuned in to my game, I play the safe side of fairways off the tee and the safe side of the hole with my approaches. I make my share of birdies, and keep big numbers and bogeys on short holes to a minimum by taking this approach.

Of course, I find a 73 or 74 with only one or two birdies more fun than a 78 with 3 or 4. You might not.

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Opinion & Analysis

Requiem for a push cart



I can’t believe it’s over. In the last four years, you have been with me for 3,686 holes. But I understand you are just too tired to go on. Your break is busted. Your wheels rattle. It’s time for you to retire, I understand, but it makes me sad nonetheless; Hogan, my trusted push cart.

It is hard to believe that was 4 years ago! Oh, how the time has passed! How many great memories we have! Hundreds of rounds and thousands of miles. Our amazing travels, playing with great friends, meeting new people, and of course love! I will never forget the first time you meet Mary ClickGear. The way she rolled up, four wheels, wearing that beautiful pink trimmed outfit. How your umbrella all of a sudden burst open and how embarrassed you were. HA! It was amazing, my friend, and I am so glad we got to share the moments together.

There were also the bad times: my struggles with putting yips, then chipping yips, then putting and chipping yips together. Yet through it, you stood resolute beside me.

I also remember your dark times, like when you got called “overweight” at the airport or shortly after how you tried to thrust yourself in a lake (destroying my brand new rangefinder). In these times, I tried to be a source of strength for you and show you how much our time together meant to me.

What I will remember most is your enduring love. During the past four years, many have come and gone (including the M5 irons, the Ping G500 irons, Apex irons, a Ping putter, an Odyssey putter, a long putter, belly putter, three Scotty Camerons, and another Ping putter) but through good and bad, there was one thing I could count on: you. Always steads. Quick to hold my drink or my umbrella. Never judging when I took time for ball-hawking. Always down for a walk, regardless of the weather! A true friend!

That’s why yesterday, our last round together, was so special. I know you were hurting, that right wheel barely holding on and the lingering joint pain, but you never complained. Until the end; you were there for every shot and for that I am truly grateful. I hope you noticed the tears going up 18. They were real and deserved; you were the best push cart ever, my friend!

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Mondays Off

Mondays Off: Shanks one day, shoot 77 the next? How? Should I wait to get fit?



Shanks one day and then fire 77 the next? Steve and Knudson take on that question from a listener as well as one about fitting. New 2020 gear is coming out soon, so should you get fit now or wait until spring?

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

Want more GolfWRX Radio? Check out our other shows (and the full archives for this show) below. 

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19th Hole