How to Be a Professional Golfer: Why 98 Percent of Young Golfers Will Fail and What You Can Do to Prevent it
"Becoming a tour player requires a lot more time time and effort than most ambitious golfers are willing to put in. Think about it this way; to consider a life as a tour player ask yourself whether you are willing to devote the next 10 to 20 years of your life pursuing this career choice, with at least 5 hours of practice 6 days out of 7, and playing 54 to 72 holes each week."
One of our students at Pro Tour Golf College was at an amateur tournament recently and overheard some of the young guys around the putting green talking about how they wanted to go to tour school in the next 12 months and "give tour school a try."
These guys were all on very low handicaps of scratch or better and want to play golf for a living, which is completely reasonable and understandable, because there are plenty of tours to play on, and lots of dollars on offer, if you are good enough to earn it.
And that’s the central point here; if you are good enough.
And most of them aren't...yet!
The trouble is that for every guy or gal that makes it onto a golf tour and actually earns enough income to keep their card, most will fail over and over. That’s right, most of the golfers that go to tour school will not play good enough to get a card, and those that do, very few of them will last on tour longer than 3 years, and the majority will have to go back to tour school again in 12 months time.
So why is there such a high rate of failure in young golfers becoming good enough to play golf on a professional tour successfully?
A Questionable Level of Commitment
The obvious reason is that they simply aren't good enough to compete at pro tour level. Being a good amateur in most cases translates to a bottom to mid-level tour player. Shooting around par for 4 rounds in amateur tournaments won’t make you a dime in a 4 round pro tournament most of the time.
But it's actually more than just the playing standard that is required to be a professional, it's the attitude of "I'm going to give tour school a try" that is more the problem.
That doesn't sound very professional does it?
You don't give tour school a try; it is a long term career choice - a long term view of where you want to take your game.
Short-term thinking in this case is safety thinking, and it really questions someone's true level of commitment.
"If I don't qualify for the tour, I'll go get a job."
That thinking is a recipe for failure, not just in golf, but also in life.
Giving the pro tour a try suggests that you think you have a chance at it, but if it doesn't happen, you'll go do something else.
You would be better off taking the second option in our opinion, if this is your thinking, because you won't become a successful professional golfer with that type of attitude.
Why? It's simple; no one who has ever made it to the top of professional golf (or is in the process of doing so) has such a low level of commitment to being a great golfer.
You should be totally committed to not just qualifying to get onto a pro tour, but also to become A SUCCESSFUL GOLFER ON TOUR.
Professional Golfer (Tour Player) or Golf Professional
We find that a big part of the problem in our experience starts with the fact that there’s virtually no school or college for educating prospective tour players (apart from ours) where you can learn, develop and acquire the knowledge, attitude and tour grade skills required to become a successful tour player.
There are lots of golf swing academies that claim they develop golfers for the pro tour, but very few of them have a holistic curriculum designed for life as a tour player.
When you go to the websites of the professional tours like PGA Tour or LPGA Tour to find out how to become a tour player they will give you the ins and outs of rules and procedures for entering the qualifying tournament, but they don't tell you how good you have to be to get onto a tour, and also what skills and attributes you require.
There are lots of PGA business schools for learning how to become a golf professional, which is not nearly the same as being a professional golfer.
A golf professional is someone who works in the golf industry in a retail position, golf operations, golf management, or is a golf teacher/instructor, (although less and less golfers are going through a PGA business schools to learn how to become a golf teacher today).
Now he is working at several odd jobs to service the debt from his time on tour, and because he lost his playing status on tour he will have to go back to tour school again in 12 months, and go trough the process again to earn a card to play for pay.
But my point is that he will not give up on his dream at any cost, because this is his long term plan for his life. He will pay off his debts again, and keep working hard on improving his game so he can not only get back onto a pro tour, and become the successful professional golfer he truly wants to be.
He has the all or nothing attitude that will take you a long way in life, whether it's on the golf course, or in fact anywhere else.
Preparing to Play On Tour
The reality for most young male and female amateur golfers is that they are far from ready to go to tour school. David and I have had many meetings with amateur golfers (and quite often their parents) over the years about whether they should turn professional, and in most instances we suggest that they should stay amateur for longer, until they can consistently score under par in the biggest amateur tournaments.
Most of them don’t want to hear this advice however, and many turn pro anyway, and sadly for most of them all they end up with is a lot of heartache from missing cuts and pre-qualifiers, and a bloated credit card.
Enter the Sports Psychologist
Do you think that really good golfers need a sports psychologist, mental skills coach, or performance specialist if the golfer already has the skills and the game to the level where they are making a great income playing golf on tour?
No, the reason these practitioners exist in the main is because their clients don't play well enough (too much C game), or to make enough money when they compete in tournaments. That is not to say that they don't also work with highly successful golfers because they do, its just that they spend more time working with struggling golfers.
The constant disappointment and grind of not playing good enough in tournaments wears the struggling golfer down physically and emotionally to the extent that they desperately search for someone to help them to deal more effectively with the ups and downs of life on tour, by teaching them self-management strategies and coping skills.
In our opinion sports psychologists ideally should be involved much earlier in your development as a pro tour golfer, when you are preparing your game to pro tour standard, rather than when you have already acquired a huge load of negative mental baggage because you are failing at it.
This would make their job so much easier, but most of their consulting work is managing the negative aspects of golf performance rather than the positive aspects. And like most things in life, if it took you a period of time to learn how to struggle on the golf course, then you should expect it to also take a period of time to turn it around, to get your game to a better place, where you are happier with the way you perform on the golf course in tournaments.
No one has a magic pill that can take you from Struggle Street to Main Street without a lot of hard work on the right skills and strategies to get you there.
The Crystal Ball
If you are an amateur golfer who is considering going to a tour school in the next 12 to 36 months and you had a crystal ball and could see into your future 5 years from now, what would your life look like?
Do you see yourself as a competent, confident and successful touring professional who's making a lot of cuts and banking a lot of good sized checks?
If you are not seeing this type of future, you really should be.
But maybe you are just a little unsure, you like the idea of being a successful professional golfer but you honestly don't know how to go about it.
Here's the key question that you need to ask yourself right now (and answer) that is the starting point of getting onto the path to the pro tour:
"What are the standards that I must achieve, and what are the specific skills and strategies I need to learn (that I don't currently possess to the level they need to be) that will give me the best opportunity to not only earn my tour card when I go to tour school in _____ (months), but will also ensure that when I get onto a pro tour that I can play well enough to stay there?"
There's No Mystery, Just Follow the Trail
There's no mystery as to why some professional golfers play better than others over a season.
Successful professional golfers leave a trail of results behind them, just the same way as less than successful golfers.
This trail helps you to understand what is required to produce lower golf score averages so you can make more cuts and larger checks.
So well before you decide to go to tour school you need to get your preparation in order by amongst other things studying the results of successful professional golfers carefully to understand what is required to succeed on tour.
Fortunately golf being a game of numbers means that there is plenty of statistics that you can study that will help you to design relevant and appropriate practice plans that can guide your development safely.
There's nothing we like more than to see a young golfer with ambition who wants to pursue their goal of playing successfully on a professional golf tour. What we see all too often though is an ambitious golfer with a very poor plan (and often no plan) that leads to higher score averages that makes it impossible to become a successful professional golfer.
So don't let this be you.
How to Break Par: The Radical Mind Shift and Strategy that Will Help You to Birdie 50 Percent of All the Par 5 Holes You Play
In today’s article I’m going to show you how to make more birdies with your approach wedge shots on par 5 holes. I'm also going to show you the critical wedge distance ranges and the numbers you need to produce to make more birdies in every round to become a consistent par breaking golfer.
I think we can all agree that the top male and female tour players make most of their birdies on par 5 holes? In fact the average PGA Tour player birdies about 40 percent of the entire par 5 holes he plays in a season, and the top golfers birdie closer to 50 percent.
If you have been following this article series you know that the key to breaking par is based on our simple and easy to understand par breaking formula;
< Par = Birdie or Better > Bogey or Worse
Basically this means that you need to make more birdies than bogeys to break par, and this is the real challenge of this great game. Most of your birdie opportunities will come on the par 5 holes, and in this article I’m going to share with you a radical mind-set shift that will help you to make more birdies on par 5 holes setting you up to break par more often.
The Par 5 Paradigm Shift:
The top male and female tour players all play par 5’s under par and they do this primarily because they believe that par 5 holes are challenging par 4 holes, and their goal is to birdie at least 2 out of every 4 they play.
There are no more par 5 holes on your golf course; they are all par 4.5 holes from now on.
The par 5 score average of the top golfers on the PGA Tour in 2013 was 4.58 from 225 par 5 holes they played.
Think about that for a moment, on average these golfers were 93 under par for about 225 par 5 holes they played that season.
To become a leading par breaking amateur or tour professional you need to be able to achieve (or get very close to) this 4.5 standard if you wish to become a competitive golfer who breaks par often.
You also need to understand the mind-set and game of someone who plays par 5 holes as par 4.5 holes, because there are a number of factors that will influence how close to 4.5 as an average you will produce, so let’s have a look at them.
Tee Shot Distance on Par 5 Holes.
If you average out all the par 5 holes you play in a season what would the average length of the holes be? It is likely to be around 550 yards (503 metres) for male golfers playing in important tournaments and slightly less at club level.
The average percentage of distance covered from the tee on par 5 holes by PGA Tour players in 2013 was 52 percent.
What this means is that if they are playing a par 5 that measures 550 yards (503 metres), they will hit their tee-shot at least 286 yards from the tee, which is 52 percent of the total distance of the hole.
Tour players fly their 3 wood between 220 and 250 yards (200 and 229 metres) with the long hitters able to fly their 3 woods consistently into the 250 yard range. Have a look at the par 5 16th hole at T.P.C Sawgrass below, where The Tournament Players Championship is played every year, and you can see the distinct advantage distance gives the longer hitters.
A tee-shot of 290 yards on this hole will leave a second shot of 225 yards to the middle of the green. If you were in contention in this tournament a birdie on this hole (your 70th hole) could really help you, by supplying momentum and motivation for playing the last 2 holes; the treacherous par 3 17th with its island green, and the long curve-linear 18th hole par 4 that is bordered along the left with water, from in front of the tee, and all the way to the green.
Many of the par 5 holes on tour are not designed to be receptive to second shots from a long way out unless you hit a truly great shot. For example, the neck of the fairway leading into the green surface on the 16th hole at T.P.C Sawgrass is just 10 yards wide, with water cutting in tight on the right, and a well placed pine tree on the left.
So even though the majority of tour players playing in the Tournament Players Championship can reach this green in 2 shots, many prefer the third shot option of relying on an accurate approach wedge shot to the pin, which is tucked in the right side of the green on the last day.
Now the lay up third shot must be accurate and layed up to the distance that the player is at their best. What this means is that each player has one or two distances that they are very accurate at, both in terms of direction and distance.
How would you like to be playing your second shot from 225 yards out into a green designed like the one below?
This is a view of the 16th green at T.P.C Sawgrass from behind the green, and you can see that going for it with your second shot is fraught with danger.
Notice in this image that I have highlighted two lay up zones in yellow and blue.
Your 2 Colour Wedge Zones
When you play par 4.5 holes like the 16th at T.P.C Sawgrass, you need to know your two wedge zones that you can hit your approach shots accurately from.
With this knowledge you can be confident that from these distances you will hit your approach wedge shots close enough to the hole to give you a good chance of making the putt.
The top tour players all have their favorite distances that they play their approach wedge shots from, and you should too. The key to understanding this is to realize that there are basically two types of approach wedge shots that you must become really good at;
The Yellow Zone - Short Arm-Swing Approach Wedge
When you have to hit shots to tight pins on par 4.5 holes, you will need a short arm-swing approach wedge technique that has a range of between 50 and 75 yards (46 to 68 metres). Somewhere in this range you need to develop a go-to wedge shot for the tight pins that are tucked behind obstacles like bunkers or water.
Your arm-swing length for this shot will have your hands just above your right hip in the back-swing, and this is one of those shots that is never practiced enough by elite golfers and it shows in their results when hitting shots from 50 to 75 yards.
It is challenging to learn this shot because most of the strokes you make are made with longer arm swings and this stroke will feel very short and uncoordinated to begin with, so it will take you some practice to learn the length of the stroke and the ideal tempo for it.
But hang in there because once you master this stroke you will be able to confidently get your approach shots close to hole consistently, especially when pins are tucked in tight.
The Blue Zone - Long Arm-Swing Approach Wedge
When you are further out from the green at the 75 to 100 yards (68 to 91 metres) range and you have to hit to tight pins you will need a long arm-swing approach wedge technique. This stroke has the handle level with your right shoulder joint or just above, is a stroke length preferred by most tour players.
Remember that your wedge shot effectiveness determines how many birdies you make on par 4.5 holes.
How to Practice It
Wedge it closer to the hole consistently and the probability of you making mores putts goes up. The best way to practice these 2 strokes is to first determine how far you can consistently fly the ball with your short arm-swing technique and your long arm-swing technique.
Hit a minimum of 5 sets of 10 golf balls (50 shots) and measure the carry distance of each shot with a laser and then average the distance out. Make sure that your arm-swing is consistent by working closely with your instructor or a friend who can provide feedback that your arm-swing is consistent and the correct length from shot to shot.
Once you know how far your golf shots fly on average with both stroke lengths you can test your distance control by hitting at least 5 sets of 10 shots (50 shots) into a green and using a tape measure perform a proximity to the hole check to determine how far on average you are hitting your shots from the hole.
How Good Are the Tour Players?
In the final round of the 2013 Northwestern Mutual World Challenge Zac Johnson hit his second shot into the water on the 444 yard par 4 18th hole.
So he took his ball back to the drop zone and was left with a shot of about 70 yards to the pin.
Now at this approach wedge distance range
(50 to 75 yards) Zac's proximity to the hole is 10 feet 7 inches, (from this range in 2013 he had 20 attempts and converted 25 percent of them for birdie) so he was pretty confident that he could hit it close enough to get the ball up and down for bogey and put the pressure back on Tiger Woods.
He did better than that because he holed the shot and then went into a playoff with Tiger and beat him!
That's the real power of a great wedge game, because it can turn par 5 holes into par 4.5 holes.
50 to 75 Yards
So how good are PGA Tour players from these distances? Well, from the 50 to 75 yards (46 to 68 metres) range the top 15 players on the PGA Tour (those who made the most birdies on par 5 holes in 2013) hit their short arm-swing approach wedge shots on average just 13 feet 8 inches from the hole, or around 4 metres away.
Now this might not seem very close to the hole, but on average it really is very good, and it means that they are continually facing putts from a range that when their putter is hot they make lots of them.
75 to 100 Yards
When they hit their shots from the 75 to 100 yards (68 to 91 metres) range their proximity to the hole increases just a little to 16 feet 2 inches, or around 5 metres from the pin.
Consider also that on many of the par 5 holes where they played a 3 wood to the green, many times they hit their shots much closer than 50 yards from the pin during the season, and their green-side scrambling skills are so good that in 2013 (when they were hitting second shots from 250 yards to 275 yards or 228 to 251 metres away) their birdie or better result was an outstanding 62 percent for the previously mentioned par 5 birdie leaders group!
So there you have it, the par 5 now becomes a par 4.5, and your job is to develop your golf skills around these key concepts, and with practice and determination you will set you up to make more birdies than bogeys, and a lot more pars in each round.
How to Break Par: The 24 Inch Golf Improvement Strategy that Results in a 30 Percent Improvement in Your Putting
Every year a new group of golf score warriors makes it onto one of the PGA and LPGA tours to test their golf skills against the best golfers in the business.
And what’s interesting is that even though they all swing the golf club differently, they all have one thing in common; the knowledge of how to break par, and ability to make par more than 60 percent of the time when they miss a green in regulation from around the green, and particularly on par 3 and par 4 holes.
You see the key to breaking par consistently is to maintain par at all costs, and without superior short-game recovery skills you will never be able to achieve this goal. The trouble is with so much emphasis of perfecting golf swing mechanics today, the worrying thing is that upcoming amateur golfers never get enough hours of practice under their belt developing their scoring ability.
Don't let this be you.
In today’s article (part 3 of our series) I’m going to share with you a simple and easy to remember formula that you need to understand which is the key to breaking par often when you miss greens on par 3 and par 4 holes and the break par zone that determines how many pars or better you make in each round.
Here's the formula you need to understand and remember;
% of Pars Made = Distance of First Putt
Isn't that easy and simple to understand and remember? Hit it closer to the hole consistently when you miss a green in regulation and you will make more pars.
Success at making par when you miss the green truly gets down to how far on average you hit your first putt from.
The best golfers on all the pro tours hit it closer to the hole on average than their fellow competitors.
It is as simple as that!
Basically you need to be able to do three things really well when you miss greens on par 3 and par 4 holes in regulation if you want to make a high percentage of pars.
Simple enough right?
No, actually its not. This is where we see the biggest difference in players that can score consistently under par to those that don’t. The consistent under par scoring golfers all have the ability to consistently make pars when they miss the greens on par 3 and par 4 holes from all types of lies, in all types of situations, most of the time.
Okay, so you are probably wanting to know just how good you have to be to make pars consistently when you miss the green and finish up around the green or in the bunker right?
Well, let’s go back to the formula % of Pars Made = Distance of First Putt and start from there.
Percentage of Pars Made > 65 %
I’ve already shared with you that you need to make at least 12 pars in each round (which is 66.7 percent of 18 holes) to become a par breaking golfer, and our simple formula tells us that to do this consistently we need to get the distance of the first putt closer to the hole whenever we miss the green.
Now I know that’s obvious, but how close do you need to get it?
That’s really the key question here, and in our experience few advanced and elite golfers (pro's and amateurs) really understand the critical distance range that you must continually hit your recovery shots into to make a high percentage of putts that convert into pars or better.
At Pro Tour Golf College we call this the Break Par Zone.
Distance of First Putt < 10 Feet (3 Metres)
So let’s have a look at how many putts are made by PGA Tour professionals over a season to start with. I think we can agree that top level professionals from around the green and in close proximity to the pin will hit their recovery shots within 10 feet (3 metres) of the pin on average?
The Shocking Discovery
So you can see from the numbers above that there is an exponential improvement as you get closer to the hole. But take a look at what we discovered when you compare a 7 foot putt and a 5 foot putt; there's a staggering 30 percent difference!
When these guys hit their golf shots 24 inches closer to the hole, on average their putting performance improves by a whopping 30 percent.
24 inches Closer to the Hole = 30% Better
I think you can start to see that these PGA Tour players are really good at making putts from inside 7 feet of the hole, and this knowledge should help you to understand what you are required to do when you hit green-side recovery shots to save pars on par 3 and par 4 holes.
Basically you need to hit your chip, pitch and lob shots inside 7 feet of the hole when you play your recovery shots from good lies around the green, and you need to hit it inside 10 feet when you hit your recovery shots from more challenging lies.
Our formula of % Pars Made = Distance of First Putt should make complete sense to you now.
Your scrambling results are directly influenced by your first putt distance from the pin and your putting effectiveness - particularly inside of 7 feet.
Scrambling 10 to 20 Yards (9 to 18 metres) from the Pin
Scrambling describes the percentage of time that you miss a green in regulation, but you still make par or better when your birdie stroke is taken.
So what this means is that your birdie stroke is your 2nd shot on a par 3; your 3rd shot on a par 4, and your 4th shot on a par 5 hole when you miss a green in regulation.
So let's take a look at how good the tour players are when they are scrambling for par or better within 30 yards of the edge of the green.
To start with, we are going to focus on recovery shots close to the edge of the green from 10 yards (9 metres) to 20 yards (18 metres) of the hole.
Now keep in mind that anytime we are describing the statistics of tour players around the green (including bunker shots) we are talking about all the shots they take during a season, and these shots are played from every type of lie imaginable.
The recovery shots will range from straight-forward shots where the green is at the same height as the ball, to holes where the green is much higher or lower than the ball. And as I mentioned earlier, the putts are flat and level through to extreme up-hill and down-hill, and side-hill putts.
So what is the percentage of pars saved from the 10 to 20 yards (9 to 18 metres) distance range of the pin by players on the PGA Tour?
Par or Better > 10 Yards and < 20 Yards = +/- 60 %
Recovery Shot Proximity to Hole
On average how close are these great golfers hitting their green-side recovery shots to achieve a 60 percent result? Well, Steven Bowditch ranked number 1 in proximity to the hole from 10 to 20 yards of the pin in 2013 hit his recovery shots on average just 5 feet and 4 inches from the hole, and at the other end of the scale Eric Meierdierks who ranked 180th hit his recovery shots 9 feet and 1 inch from the pin.
So we can safely say that on average these guys are hitting their recovery shots to around 7 feet from the pin on average from 10 to 20 yards of the pin.
What this tells us (and what we know) is that the more successful golfers (those that make more cuts and more money) will hit their recovery shots on average closer to the hole.
Proximity to Hole > 10 Yards < 20 Yards = +/- 7 Feet (60%)
How about from a little further out from the pin, what are the numbers when these tour golfers hit their recovery shots from 20 to 30 yards (18 to 27 metres) from the edge of the green?
There's a slight drop in performance as you would imagine, and from the 20 to 30 yards range they achieve a scrambling average of 52 percent, and in proximity to the hole from this range Steve Stricker ranked number 1 hitting his recovery shots on average 6 feet and 5 inches from the hole.
At the other end Dustin Johnson ranked 180th hitting his recovery shots 13 feet 3 inches from the pin.
So on average these guys are hitting their recovery shots about 9.5 feet from the pin. You can see that hitting your green-side shots into 10 feet (3 metres) is crucial if you make a higher percentage of pars per round, and set yourself up to break par more often.
Proximity to Hole > 20 Yards < 30 Yards = +/- 9.5 Feet (52%)
Scrambling from the Bunkers
This is the percentage of time that you miss a green in regulation, but you still make par or better when your birdie stroke is taken from a greenside bunker.
How many "up and downs" are these guys making when they miss the green with their approach shots from the bunkers?
The number is 52 percent on average from the results of 180 players in 2013.
What about the average distance to the hole after a tour player hits their ball onto the putting surface from a bunker situated within 30 yards (27 metres) of the edge of the green?
Again we've based our averages on 180 tour players competing on the PGA Tour in 2013 and the distance is around 10 feet of the hole.
When you think about it this is quite exceptional because it suggests that from all types of bunkers and all types of conditions they will get the ball to within 10 feet of the flag consistently. And we know that at the very worst from 10 feet they will make 4 putts out of 10.
Sand Proximity to Hole < 30 Yards (27 Metres) = 10 Feet (52%)
Notice that all these results fall within the range of 45 to 65 percent from within 30 yards of the edge of the green?
The thing to understand here is that they are averages, and some days they hit it a little further away from the hole than other days, and this reflects in the score variation from round to round.
You should now understand that at the very least you need to get your recovery shots into this 10 foot (3 metre) Par Breaking Zone consistently to have any chance of achieving 65 percent or greater pars made in each round.
This is the key to your success at breaking par more often.
You need to practice your green-side skills (including your bunker shots) at least 70 percent of the time you have available to practice and you should practice your recovery shots from every type of lie imaginable so you can learn how to turn more of your bogeys or worse into pars or better.
How to Break Par: The Little Known Tee-Shot Strategy Used By The Top Pro's That Will Dramatically Increase Your Chances of Breaking Par
"In every round you play, and like every other golfer, you are using your knowledge, skills and experience to craft a golf score over 18 holes. Basically, you are compiling an amount of pars, birdies or better and bogeys and worse over 18 holes."
Last week I shared with you the par breaking formula of < Par = Birdie or Better > Bogey or Worse. Basically the idea is that you need to make more pars in your round and less bogeys and worse compared your birdies and better to break par.
Hey look, I know it’s not rocket science, but it is important that you come to understand this formula before you start to dig into your scoring performance to identify the areas of your game that are keeping your score average higher in tournaments.
In this article we are going to focus on how to make more pars on par 4 holes and we are going to look at an extremely important and little known tee-shot strategy that will determine whether you make more or less pars in every round.
When you apply this simple strategy you will increase your greens hit in regulation average and make more pars in every round you play.
Success in golf is equal to your competitive score average and you need to build a game that gives you the best chance every time you play of breaking par.
In every round you play, and like every other golfer, you are using your knowledge, your skills and your experience to craft a golf score over 18 holes. Basically, you are compiling an quantity of pars, birdies or better and bogeys and worse over 18 holes.
In any round of golf you play, you will play;
As you know, every golfer from novice to pro starts on the same score and it is how you perform on these par 3, 4 and 5 holes over the course of your round that will determine the score you will produce.
The top male and female tour pro’s play par 3 holes in just under to just over par over a season, and they do the same for the par 4 holes.
This is where you make most of your pars in a round.
Par 5 holes are another matter entirely, and this is where the top tour pro’s make inroads into scoring under par. Have a look at the image below and you will see what I mean.
The image below shows PGA Tour professional’s par averages from the 2013 season for par 3, par 4 and par 5 holes for golfers ranked 1, 50 and 100 and you can see that they score around par for par 3 and 4 holes for a season (except for the number 1 ranked golfers) and they score well under par on the par 5 holes.
How to Improve Your Par 4 Par's Made Average
In important men's amateur tournaments and also on the professional golf tours because every golf course measures more than 7000 yards in length, and to improve your par 4 average you need to get your tee-shot distance average into the 60 to 70 percent zone consistently and particularly on the longer holes to give yourself a better than average chance of hitting the green in regulation.
I'm sure that you'll agree that this is a very different way of looking at hitting tee-shots, because the emphasis is normally on how far a golfers hits their shot from the tee. And tee-shot distance is very important, but we want you to look at it from the perspective of how far you hit tee-shots on holes where it is important to hit the green with your second shot.
This means that if you hit a tee-shot on a hole measuring 495 yards (453 m), 60 percent of the distance will leave you an approach shot of 198 yards (181 m). But if you hit your tee-shot 65 percent of the distance, you would be left with an approach shot of 173 yards (158 m).
You can see that a 5 percent distance increase translates into an extra 25 yards (23 m)?
How to Improve Your Greens Hit in Regulation Average
Here's where it gets real interesting though, have a look at the image below and you can see the greens hit in regulation averages of PGA Tour golfers from less than 75 yards (68.5 m) to greater than 200 yards (183 m). This is the average of 180 golfers competing on the PGA Tour in 2013.
When you study these numbers I bet you are a little surprised at how many greens they actually hit compared to what you might have thought?
I'm sure that you probably imagined that they hit more greens in regulation right?
So using our example of hitting your tee-shot 65 percent of a hole measuring 495 yards, you would be hitting a second shot of 173 yards, and the average PGA Tour golfer would hit the green around 6 times out of 10 probably using a 6 or 7 iron depending on the conditions.
Hitting your tee-shot 60 percent of the total distance of a 495 yard par 4 and the tour player would hit the green around 5 times out of 10 on average, using a 4 or 5 iron. How about you, how many greens would you hit in regulation on average if you were in the same situation?
A lot of emphasis is placed on hitting fairways from the tee, but the average amount of fairways hit by PGA Tour golfers is approximately 58 percent. If they play a course with 14 holes that they can hit tee-shots on, (10 par 4's and 4 par 5's) they will hit on average 8 to 10 fairways out of 14.
Like green hitting, the fairways tour players hit are less than you might think, however when they do miss fairways, most of the time they don't miss them by much, and they are very good at hitting their approach shots from light rough onto the green a good percentage of the time.
The qualification here is that they have to hit their tee-shots into the 60 to 70 percent zone on the longest par 4 holes so that their approach shot from the rough is being played with a medium to short iron. The longest hitters on tour play many of their approach shots from the rough, but it doesn't affect their score too much because their approach shot if often a 9 iron, pitching wedge or shorter.
The chart on the right shows you how far the average tour player hits their golf shots (in yards and metres) based on our assessments of players working with us using trackman and flightscope.
This is where it will help you to understand how they make as many pars as they do in each round.
Driving the ball in the 60 to 70 percent zone off the tee consistently will mean that when you play the longer par 4 holes you can still reach the green with a short to medium iron in most cases.
This means that you will hit a higher percentage of greens in regulation because as you can see in our greens in regulation example above, that the percentage of greens hit drops dramatically when you start hitting second shots into par 4's with your longer irons and hybrid clubs.
For example, let's say that you drive your ball 240 yards (219 m) off the tee on a 430 yard (393 m) par 4 hole. You would have hit your tee-shot 56 percent of the total distance of the hole and you will be playing your second shot from 190 yards, (174 m). Now if the best players in the game are missing about fifty percent of the greens in regulation on average, then you are also likely to miss at least fifty percent of the greens you attempt to hit and maybe more.
Take a look at the scorecard below for The Tournament Players Championship played at TPC Sawgrass in Ponta Vedra, Florida. You can see that I have averaged out the length of the Par 3, Par 4 and Par 5 holes at this famous golf course (which measures well over 7000 yards from where the tour players tee-off) to give you an idea of the distances of the holes and the distance of the second shots they would be hitting into the par 4 holes there.
Obviously the longer the hitter you are (whilst still hitting between 55 and 65 percent of fairways) the shorter the shot, however, you don't have to hit the ball as far as Bubba Watson or Tiger Woods does to be competitive on a long golf course like TPC Sawgrass as long as you can hit your tee-shots into the 60 to 70 percent distance zone consistently.
Many of the champions at The Tournament Players Championship are not the longest hitters in the field, but every one of them can hit the ball into the tee-shot scoring zone (see below) and this is the key to maximizing the amount of pars you make on 430 yard par 4 holes.
How Far Do I Have to Hit My Tee-Shots to Get Into the 60 to 70 Percent Zone?
So the question you are probably asking yourself is "how far do I need to hit my tee-shots on par 4 holes to get into the 60 to 70 percent tee-shot scoring zone?"
Good question; and to help you to get the answer to this important question we have gone to the trouble of calculating all the tee-shot distances from 200 to 320 against hole lengths of 300 to 450 for you so you can work out where your tee-shot zone should be.
The distances in the Percentage of Distance Covered Chart (Par 4 Holes) can be yards or metres (depending on your preference) and we have included tee-shot distances from 200 yards/metres to 320 yards/metres, and the par 4 hole distances are from 300 yards/metres to 450 yards/metres.
Based on the information I've shared with you so far you can see that the average length of par 4 holes at The Tournament Players Championship (Stadium course) is 428 yards (391 m) and using our Percentage of Distance Covered Chart (above) you will notice that if you hit your tee-shots into the 60 to 70 percent zone you will be hitting your tee-shots in the 260 to 300 yards (238 to 274 m) range from the tee.
What's interesting about this is that the 2006 through to 2013 winners of this important championship all fit into the 60 to 70 percent zone with their average tee-shot length in yards.
Every male and female golfer playing on a professional golf tour can hit their ball into the 60 to 70 percent zone consistently and this enables them to have a better than 50 percent chance of hitting the green in regulation setting themselves up to make pars on the par 4 holes.
Download our percentage of distance covered chart for par 4 and par 5 holes and study it and work out how far on average your tee-shots are travelling down the fairway. If you are not getting into the Tee-shot scoring zone yet, get to work with your golf instructor on improving this situation so you can make more pars on par 4 holes edging you ever closer to breaking par consistently.