Keeping track of your statistics helps you in a number of ways

If your New Year’s resolution is to play more golf, that’s great. It’s a lot more fun than sweating off 20 pounds.

But if you’ve resolved to play more quality golf, that’s even better … and might require a little sweat equity off the course.

That’s right. What you do to prepare for each round can have a direct effect on what happens out there, and it’s all about shaping up between the ears.

When I sat down and considered what I want out of our great game this year, I decided to bring back something I used to do and should have kept doing: charting every round.

It’s not that hard. All you have to do is keep track of a few extra categories besides your score, then log them into a score-tracking program, a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet or, if you’re old-school, on a piece of paper when you go home.

It’s important to do this while it’s still fresh in your mind. Yes, I realize that you’d like to forget some of those details – the wayward drives, the three-putts, the triple bogeys – but having these statistics should give you a clear indication of what you need to work on.

Here are the categories I use:

  • –Date
  • –Course (with an asterisk to indicate if it’s your first time playing it)
  • –Score (front nine/back nine/18 holes)
  • –To par (5 over, etc.)
  • –Course rating from the tees you were playing (gives you a good barometer of how various scores stack up)
  • –Eagles (we can dream)
  • –Birdies (would be nice to be able to enter at least a 1 or 2 here after every round)
  • –Pars (it’s really helpful to see how many pars you have in every round – tells you a lot about how you’re playing)
  • –Bogeys (would be nice if this number is lower than pars)
  • –Double bogeys (a good round keeps these to a minimum)
  • –Triple bogeys or worse (let’s hope this is zero most of the time)
  • –Fairways hit (drives that stayed in the fairway although I add one proviso – they need to go a respectable distance and not just be a dribbler that went 100 yards)
  • –Greens in regulation (on the green with your tee shot on a par-3, in 2 on a par-4 or in 3 on a par-5)
  • –Putts (you want this to be under 30 – you also can log in one-putt greens if you like, but a good putts total will imply that you had a lot of one-putts)
  • –Three-putts (might be the most important category of all – it’s the biggest stroke-waster)
  • –Penalty strokes (usually very telling if you had a big score)
  • –Par-3s total (relationship to par on the par-3s – these are supposed to be the easiest holes on the course most of the time, so this shouldn’t be too far over par)
  • –Par-4s total (same idea on par-4s, but keep in mind that this encompasses most of the holes you play so it might be a higher score most of the time)
  • –Par-5s total (ditto on par-5s – I always want to see this be a good score because those are holes you should birdie or par if you’re playing well)
  • –Best club (the club or club category, such as short irons, you got the most out of that day – if it’s your putter, then you probably had a good day)

The best way to make this possible is to keep score for yourself on your own card and, besides your score on each hole, log in the number of putts you took (putts from on the fringe or off the green don’t count), an “F” for fairway hit, a “G” for a green in regulation and a “P” for a penalty with how many strokes it was. (A ball that’s unplayable or in the water usually is a P-1, a ball out of bounds is a P-2.)

It takes only a few seconds to do that after each hole, but be sure to wait until the next tee if you have people behind you. You don’t want to keep them waiting while you’re being a statistician.

After you start to get several rounds logged in, it’s time to use these stats to your advantage. Look for trends. Not hitting many fairways? Get out to the range and hit a bunch of drivers or whatever club you use off the tee. Consistently having a lot of three-putt greens? Practice your putting or, maybe even better, change putters.

The bottom line is to make this off-course work pay off, and it will if you’re consistent about it. It’s just like going to the gym regularly – you’re going to see results if your habits are healthy. The only difference is that you’re trying to trim strokes, not pounds.

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