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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Improving Your GIR

SOS in bunker
Missed the green short again, eh? You're not alone.

Dexter mentioned in his blog that he's been hitting a low percentage of greens in regulation, or GIR. I suspect a lot of you are having that problem, so let me give you a quick lesson on the subject.

On the outside chance you aren't familiar with this stat, here's a quick definition: The guys who determine par on each hole assume you will generally take two putts to get the ball in the hole. If you subtract this "two-putt" from a hole's par rating, that tells you how many strokes it will take to get from the tee onto the green -- for example, a par 3 takes one stroke to reach the green and then two putts. If you hit the green in one stroke, you have "hit the green in regulation" and made one GIR.

GIR is usually expressed as a percentage of holes played; for a given event, the PGA Tour site will give you a GIR for each round and for the entire tournament. If you look at the big stat page for each player, that GIR is for all the holes the player has played in that year.

As of today, the average of all the GIRs of all the Tour players is 64.30%. (When I write a post and mention the average player's GIR, this is the number I'm talking about.) This means that, on average, players hit less than 12 greens in a round. Justin Rose is the best right now with a 73.61% average, which is just over 13 per round. Only 53 players hit 66.67% or better, which is right on 12 per round.

As you can see, hitting greens isn't the easiest part of the game, even if you play golf for a living!

But here's an interesting fact for you: As a general rule, the pros tend to miss greens to the right or left, while weekend players tend to miss the green long or short. Yes, I know Luke Donald missed several greens short on Sunday. Some of that was because of swirling winds, and the rest came from trying to get the ball as close as possible on hard greens. But overall, most of the guys were right on the distance but wide of the hole, weren't they?

I suspect I'll be revisiting this subject as Dexter works on his approach shots, but here's a quick tip that may help many of you. Have you ever noticed how many teachers and players advise weekend players to take an extra club on approach shots? (Butch Harmon called Michael Breed on The Golf Fix Monday night and said if he could only give one tip to viewers, that would be it.)

The reason is twofold. First, many weekend players just don't hit the ball solidly all the time, so they don't always hit the ball a consistent distance. But the second reason, which is intimately related to the first, is that weekend players always choose their club based on the best shot they've ever hit with it! That virtually guarantees they'll be short of the green most of the time.

Likewise, weekend players are often advised to take a longer club and swing easier, the idea being that the player will get a more solid hit with the shorter swing and therefore hit the ball farther.

For a little more insight into what factors affect your choice of club, here's some instruction from Jim Flick, taken from the Golf Channel's archives. (Golf Channel won't let you embed the video regardless of what the page says, so just click the link.)

The best thing about Jim's tips are that they don't require any extra practice or special techniques, just a few moments' thought. Hopefully they'll help you put more shots on the green during your next round.

The pic came from this Golf Digest article.


  1. I saw "The Power of 3" segment that you referred to in regards to amateurs hitting their clubs inconsistently which changes the loft of the club from shot to shot. That makes sense. It also makes sense why Butch Harmon would suggest that weekend golfers take more club and swing easier.

    I am guilty of trying to hit shots based on my best swing with a certain club. When I'm at 155 yards out, I always take out my 7-iron, and often, I end up short. Like Jim Flick said, I tend to forget to take all of the factors into consideration(lie angle, wind direction, etc).

    Now that I think about it, I can think of many times when I say to myself, "alright Dex, you're going to have to step on this one to get it to the hole." Usually the result is an errant shot because I try to swing too hard and everything goes out of whack. "More club on each shot". I'll add this to the game plan.

  2. It's almost always little things, isn't it?