By Paul Myers

Just like any other sport, there are plenty of statistics to keep track of in golf. Of course, there is only one that really matters at the end of the day – your score. However, keeping track of a few other stats can help you to identify weak areas of your game that you can then target for improvement down the road.

Greens in regulation is one statistic that is worth tracking in your own game because it provides a pretty good indication of the quality of your ball striking. If you aren’t familiar with this statistic, it counts how often you hit the green in the proper amount of shots for a given hole. So, hitting a par four green in regulation would mean you are on the green after two shots. On a par five, that number goes up to three, and it is one on a par three. Basically, if you have a birdie putt, you have hit the green in regulation.

It is obvious why you should strive to hit as many greens in regulation as possible. The more birdie putts you have, the better chance that you will make a couple of them – and two putt for a whole bunch of pars. Missing greens in regulation means you will be scrambling to try and save pars throughout the round. Even if you have a good short game, that kind of golf will catch up with you sooner or later.

So how many greens should you be hitting per round? Well, let’s start by looking at what kind of numbers the pros are able to achieve. So far in the 2015 season, the greens in regulation leader on the PGA TOUR is Will MacKenzie, who has hit 76.85% of his greens in regulation over 12 rounds. In total, there are currently 55 players hitting at least 70% of the greens in regulation.

Obviously, if those are the statistics from the best players in the world, you will want to aim your sights slightly lower than that. For a beginning golfer, hitting just one or two greens can be considered an accomplishment. As you improve in both skill and experience, you can start to expect more from yourself. The key is to track your performance and try to improve on your numbers over time.

To get started working on the improvement of your greens in regulation percentage, try using the following three tips –

  • Play more conservative off the tee. It is awfully hard to hit the green when you are under the trees or in a fairway bunker. Get your tee shots on the short grass as frequently as possible to increase the odds of getting your approach shot onto the putting green.
  • Take an extra club. Many amateurs make the mistake of hitting an iron for their approach shot that they have to catch perfectly in order to reach the target. Instead, try hitting one extra iron on most approach shots to give yourself a little margin for error.
  • Aim away from the flag. Sometimes the best play is to aim away from the flag and use the large part of the green to provide you with some margin for error. While you might end up with some longer putts than you would if you aimed right at the flag, you should come out ahead in the long run by improving your GIR percentage.