Stop Counting Putts

Tiffany Nelson
Director of Business Development
TPC Scottsdale
Scottsdale, AZ

More Information

I love when your friends ask, “So, how’d you putt?” Well, if you know my game, my putting is the worst part. The joke is I have the feel of a porcupine! Yes, it’s horrible, but slowly getting better with more good days than bad. How is that, you ask? Well, I read a great article by Peter Sanders in Golf Digest, December 2009 that told me to quit counting my putts, instead keep track of different things when it comes to putts. Because face it, missing two three ft. putts in a row is a lot different than taking two putts from 50 feet.

Sanders gave a great example from the 2008 PGA TOUR season. Bob Tway ranked first in number of putts per green hit in regulation (this is the way the golf commentator’s often refer to the putting stats) at 1.718 and Vijay Singh ranked 107 at 1.792 – less than one putt per round of separation. Both players averaged 12 greens in regulation per round, yet Singh had three victories and led the money list, while Tway had no victories and was 132 on the money list. If golfers “Putt for Dough” this stat certainly is useless in illustrating that.

Instead of number of putts per round, let’s keep track of total feet of putts holed. I think this tells us a much better story of how we putt. This is how it works…instead of recording number of putts record the length of the putt you make, rounded to the nearest foot, with two conditions: First, all putts inside two feet count as two feet so that all good lags are treated equal. Second, any putt you make longer than 15 feet you count as 15 feet, so one big putt doesn’t throw off your total. Also, you will still need to mark your 3-putts (Yes, I know, you still need to know when you do those).

Add the length of your 18 putts at the end of the round, then subtract four feet as a penalty for each three-putt (he arrived at this number by cross referencing the more than 90,000 rounds in my database of amateur golfers). Example: You 3-putt four times in one round, you would take the four 3-putts and times it by four feet (4X4). This final number represents your putting performance. Typically, a scratch putter will hole 70 feet of putts per round. A 15-handicapper, roughly a 90-shooter, will average about 50 feet.

Here’s the grid:
Handicap / Total Distance Holed (feet)

It’s kind of opposite thinking than you normally would do, but once you try it, it really starts to make sense. It definitely helps to see what I’m making and what I need to work on when it comes to putting. Maybe one day they won’t be able to call me porcupine anymore! See ya out on the course!

Tiffany Nelson is Director Sales & Marketing at TPC Scottsdale/ PGA TOUR located at 17020 North Hayden Road, Scottsdale, AZ 85255. You can reach her at 480.585.4334, ext. 226. Follow TPC Scottsdale on Facebook (The TPC Scottsdale) and on Twitter and keep up with all the action!