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  • Dan

How To Keep Score

Updated: Jul 31, 2022

One of the bigger mistakes you can make early in your golf journey is using your total score after a round as the benchmark for how well you are playing / improving.

Golf is 3 different games in one (full swing, short game, putting) across 18 diverse holes. A single number that combines so many facets and variables can be a counterproductive and demotivating way to monitor your progress on the course.

A Better Way

I recommend to all players scoring 90 or above to instead use the following 4 part scoring system:

  1. Number of Fairways in Regulation: Refers to the number of fairways that you successfully hit with your first stroke on each hole from the tee. FIR can only be achieved on par 4s and par 5s.

  2. Number of Greens in Regulation: Refers to your ball being on the green in a defined number of strokes. To achieve a GIR your golf ball must be on the green in 'par minus 2 strokes'. For example, on a par 4 you must hit the green in 2 strokes.

  3. Number of Holes with 2 putts or less: If you were to putt in with 1 or 2 strokes on 10 holes, and putt in with 3+ strokes on 8 holes, you would have 10 holes with 2 putts or less for the day.

  4. Number of holes with a score of bogey or better (i.e. par, birdie):

How This Will Change Your Game

What this scoring system does is create a much more accurate "game within the game" that will keep you motivated and focused on the right things throughout your round.

  1. Number of Fairways in Regulation

  2. What it does - when you have that chance to try to shape a draw around a dogleg and our thinking about a shot you know you shouldn't hit, remembering that your goal off the tee is to simply hit the fairway will reset you and help you focus on just putting it on the short stuff, which is what all higher handicapper golfers should be focusing on.

  3. Number of Greens in Regulation:

  4. What it does - pins tucked in the back right and surrounded by bunkers, do you attack the pin or try to put it on the center of the green? If you are tracking your Greens In Regulation, you'll take the opportunity to tally a notch on this hole and aim for the center of the green, which is always the right call early in your playing days.

  5. Number of Holes with 2 putts or less:

  6. What it does - you get to a hole, and it's just been one of those holes. You plunked it in the water off the tee and muffed a chip. You are laying 5 on a par 4 before you even take a putt and are so demotivated you lose all discipline and 4 putt. This happens to all of us, but when you start tracking your number of putts per hole, even if it was a terrible journey to the green, once your on you have an opportunity to notch a 2 putt or less, which will keep you motivated and focused on the most critical part of the hole.

  7. Number of holes with a score of bogey or better (i.e. par, birdie):

  8. What it does - you still need some type of vanity metric that tells you how you played overall, and this to me is it. It'll reinforce the discipline of focusing on bogey golf early on and your score sheet will reward you accordingly. In addition, this eliminates the dreaded "blow up hole" or 2 from weighing down your scorecard. If you came in at bogey or less on 14 holes, had 2 holes where you went double bogey, and 2 holes where you scored double par, your score sheet might still be in the 90's, but that's still a great day of golf for someone still learning. If you end up starting the round with a dreaded quadruple bogey, it doesn't matter, you still have 17 more opportunities to notch a bogey or better and have an incredible day out there.

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