One of the main themes of this site is to help recreational golfers do away with unrealistic expectations on the course. Expecting too much of your golf game is easily one of the biggest roadblocks to progress.
Many golfers are too hard on themselves because they are watching the pros on TV make the game look a bit easier. I always caution people that there isn't too much to learn from PGA Tour players because they are on a whole other planet when it comes to golfing ability. However, using their performance on the course is a great way to put things into perspective for the rest of us.
Here are four key stats from the PGA Tour that will make you think once or twice about the expectations you are placing on your own golf game:
Bogey from the Trees is Great!
In recovery situations, such as being in a cluster of trees, PGA Tour players make bogey more than 80% of the time. This is one of the most powerful stats that is spoken about in Mark Broadie's book Every Shot Counts and Scott Fawcett uses it as a tool in his DECADE system.
I can't tell you how many times I have seen golfers trying to thread the ball through a small opening with visions of making birdie. What usually happens is a double bogey, or worse. If the best players in the world are struggling to make pars from the trees, then maybe you should consider taking a different approach.
Take your medicine and get the ball back into play. Your main goal should be trying to make a bogey at worst. You'll be keeping up with the best golfers on the planet if you can accomplish that goal!
Putting From 5-10 Feet is Not So Easy...
This is an interesting distance to evaluate because most players (myself included) beat themselves up for missing putts from this distance.
Shane Lowry was the best on tour this year from five to ten feet and he only made 68% of his putts from this distance. If you go to the middle of the pack, it is 56%. The last place was 46%.
Every player on tour is an exceptional putter by any standards. Most of them are making just around half of the putts from this distance, so why are you so upset when you miss an eight-footer? It is not to say that you should step up to the putt expecting to miss it, but as a golfer, you just have to accept that putting is much harder than we really understand. If you put in the work, you can increase your percentages from inside of 10 feet. But on the whole, there is a limit to how many putts you can reasonably make.
Bonus Content:Be sure to check out my complete guide to putting.
Green Light With Your Wedges
You would expect that most PGA Tour players would be landing the ball within a tight window from 100-125 yards away. Most would assume that having birdie putts inside of 10 feet is the norm.
That's simply not the case. The best player on tour this year averaged roughly 16 feet from the hole from the "green light" yardage. Middle of the pack was was 20 feet, and the last place was 26 feet.
What does this mean for you? Stop thinking you can fire at pins all of the time. Your number one goal should be getting the ball on the green safely. If you leave yourself a 15-foot birdie putt then you are keeping pace with the best golfer in the entire world from that distance - 25 to 35 feet wouldn't be so bad either!
Birdie Machines? Hardly Not!
In case you didn't know, birdies are very hard to come by. Probably much harder than you think.
The best players on tour this year were good friends Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas. They both averaged 4.5 birdies per round and won roughly 30 million dollars between the two of them for their efforts. The median on tour was 3.5 per round, and the last place was 2.4.
It's very unrealistic for golfers who are looking to break 100, 90, or 80 to make many birdies. The real key to reach those milestones is mostly avoiding big numbers. Choosing aggressive strategies to try and make more birdies is only going to push you further away from your scoring goals.
Remember These Stats on the Course
Golf is a challenging game, whether you are a club player or trying to be the best in the world.
Time and time again I have seen golfers beat themselves up on the course for hitting shots that were actually quite good for their skill level. When your mood sours like this, it affects your ability to mentally stay in the round. If you can adjust your expectations appropriately, I believe it will save you strokes in the long run.
Keep these stats in mind and think about them during your rounds. Properly managing expectations is one of the greatest tools a golfer can have.