While the pros have this down cold, many average golfers do not fully appreciate the importance of putting in their game and do not have an effective practice routine for improving putting skills. Golf scoring is set up to allow two putts per hole and still achieve par, which works out to about 50% of the overall score. With this percentage, the putter is the most used club in the bag and putting skill development needs to be addressed accordingly.
“It’s ultimately what you do with a putter that is going to determine your success”
– John Hughes, PGA Professional, CEO John Hughes Golf
Key Putting Statistics
Consistent low putting relies on two important putting stats;putts per round and putts per hole. Given two putts per hole, a golfer can achieve total putts per round of 36. The USGA statistics states the average male golfer shoots a 98-99 and has at least 40 putts per round or 2.2 putts per hole. Most recreational and amateur golfers are well above this number while professional golfers average about 1.8 putts per hole and 32 putts per round.
Another important, yet overlooked statistic is 1st putt length. Getting the ball close to the pin for the 1st putt will dramatically reduce your overall putts and help lower your score. This is not an easy skill to achieve as leading tour pros only achieve 49% of their putts from 8 feet.
Average percentage of putts made from 4ft to 8ft by PGA Tour golfers
Key Putting Case Study
In my research, I asked golfers in several golf leagues to record their 1st putt length and number of putts per hole. These players golf once per week for 12 weeks in the summer, so they are playing frequently. The results indicate average putts per hole of 2.4, 2.5 and 2.9 for par 3, par 4 and par 5 holes. The average 1st putt length for these groups were 16’, 28’ and 41’ for par 3, par 4 and par 5 holes. The average putts per round were 44.
Another view of the importance of 1st putt length comes from Probable Golf Instruction. This chart shows the average putts from various putt lengths by handicap. Results indicate the number of putts increasing due to longer 1st putt lengths across golfers abilities.
Number of putts by handicap and putt length
by Probable Golf Instruction
“If people are upset at being a 25 – 36 handicap, watch them putt. That’s the fastest area in the game to save five shots a round.” – Dan Schwabe, PGA Pro
The Importance of Putting Skills
Most golfers, if they practice at all, will spend hours at the driving range but almost no time on developing putting skills on the putting green. For lower scores, golfers need to understand these numbers behind putting and manage practice time to address their putting skills. Given the numbers above, saving an average 1 putt per hole with improved putting will have a dramatic effect on the overall score. As a start, golfers need to focus on getting as close to the pin as possible to reduce 1st putt length and then reduce the number of putts per hole/round.
“Every score in golf ends on the putting green, but this is where players spend the least amount of time developing skills” – Mark Sweeny, CEO – Aimpoint Golf
In this 3-part blog series I will be addressing the importance of putting in the game of golf in an effort to help golfers play better, score lower, have more fun and play more golf. In my next blog, I will address “Making the Putt” and improving key putting skills.
Dave ‘No 3 Putts” Perry