In golf, there are many statistics golfers can track to assess their game, how well they're playing in certain facets of the sport and find out ways to get better. One of the more common statistics that has been used over the years to assess a player's putting performance is putts per green.
What does putts per green mean in golf?
In golf, putts per green is a pretty simple statistic. It is simply the total number of putts a golfer took in a round divided by the number of holes played. In most tournaments, a player is competing in 18-hole rounds, meaning the divisor is 18.
For example, is a player took 36 putts in an 18-hole round, their putts-per-green average is 2, or 36 divided by 18. Generally speaking, a two-putt is considered pretty good for most golfers. However, for higher-skilled players, including elite amateurs and professionals, this would be a poor performance. A putts-per-green number closer to 1.6 or 1.7 would be considered a good figure, indicative of a good round of putting.
What are the flaws in putts per green?
The putts per green statistic, though, has several key flaws that have rendered the statistic less useful over time -- particularly with the advent of strokes gained putting data.
Putts per green only tells you a raw average. It doesn't tell you how many one-, two- and three-putts (or worse!) you have in a round. It also doesn't indicate where a player is putting from on a green, which is particularly helpful to know since the make percentage of putts for most every golfer on the planet relies heavily on proximity to the hole.
A two-putt from 40 feet is a good thing. A two-putt from six feet isn't.
To properly assess putting performance, we need to know proximity to the hole and understand how players perform on average. This is where strokes gained putting data comes in, which helps us compare putts of all distances against the average make percentage. With that in hand, we can assess individual putting strokes and give a more complete picture of performance.