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Tiger90

Pros vs. Ams.....What's the difference?

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I was going thru my Golf Digest mag's in anticaption of the 2012 golf season and I came across an article i missed in the June 2011 issue with Kuchar on the front.

If any of you have this issue, go to the article "how low can you go?" pg.106-111.

This is a great article that explains the key differences between a PGA pro and a scratch (0-2 index).  It analyzes all aspects of the game and is very interesting.

As a scratch golfer myself, watching the golf channel i have dillusions about my own golf game until i actually go out and play and realize that i should probably stay in school.

Anyways, i couldnt find the article online, but if you find it, please share it.  If you have the issue, please read and let me know your thoughts.

I always wondered how a scratch compares to a pro, and here it finally is...

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If you DO NOT have the magazine however, i can explain what it is about,

What it does is compare the stats for the week of the pga tour winning pro (so whatever pro won each tournament, they take their stats for that week) and compares them to the stats of a scratch golfer who is playing to their handicap.  So it is comparing both categories when they are playing pretty well.

It says that as far as ball striking goes, a scratch golfer can be in the same game as a pro, which makes sense.  I mean, i play university golf, and i would say 50-60% of the guys can hit the ball 300 yds, and flush a 3 iron 225 when they are on their game.  They can also make solid contact with the ball most of the time, and there are a few guys whose ball striking, espesically with their irons is proabably comparable to a pro.

Driving stats, are a little better for a pro, but not much, only 0.5 more fairways hit per round.

Greens hit, pro will hit 2 more per round, but distance to the pin is the same for pro and am (20ft) (where the ball striking comes in)

But here is where we start to see the difference,

A pro will have 3 less putts per round, and make 20% more putts from 6-10 ft.  and 3 putts are 3 percent higher for am's.

In the article, it basically says the difference comes from the short game, wether it is sinking a birdie putt or not 3 putting, or if it is getting up and down from around the green.  It also comes from avoiding those bogey runs and double or even triple bogeys.

Finally, it comes from the mental game and not getting frustrated or down on yourself.  Altough a lot of pros will get angry and frustrated once in a while, or more often for some, they are usually much better in controlling it and shutting the negative thoughts out. Something a lot of amatures are not able to do.  A lot of guys in university golf get frustrated at some level or another.  Jason Dufner walks around the course like he is trying to nap while walking....unbelievably calm no matter what happens.

It goes on to saying, they know what it takes to go from a 7 to a scratch, and what golfers need to do (i.e, minimize 3putts), generally to get down to a scratch.  But they say to go from a scratch to a plus 7 (what a pro plays at when they win), they cant really pin point any one or two things that most people would need to do to get down to that level.  And that is becasue it is such a different game, a whole nother level.

A final interesting point, is that if you are not consistantly shooting 68 at your home course, a course you should know every bump and slope of, you should not be trying to go on the PGA tour.

I thought it was a great read.

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Yea thats golf, you can go from 120-100 fast, 100-90 fast, then it starts to go a bit slower. Now your talking about making pars and birdies. I have been at 10-12 handicap for 3 years now. I am excited for next year because my swing is getting close. Its just fine tuning it.

But the key i believe, Pro's hit it closer with wedges, they have more opportunities at shorter putts, its not alot, maybe a handful per round, but there is such a huge percentage of between making putts with in 10 feet as there is outside of 10 feet.  But its also putting and short game as well. But short game should not be something you lean on because your ball striking is bad. Notice pro's hit 2 more greens, so there iron play is better, but they know that every stroke counts so if they do miss a green, they need to get up and down.

The tour average is 12 greens in regulation per round. that leaves 6 times they need to get up and down, if they can't then they need to make 6 birdies to hit par. Thats half the times they hit a green in regulation.

So if you really want to discect your game, if you are hitting 12 or more GIR per round, then start working on getting more accurate to the target, and work on putting and short game. Until then i would try to make 12 GIR's a goal to set.

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I read it. It's itneresting that distance to the pin is pretty much the same but, they make alot more 10 ft putts and never hit in trouble.  They get a 2 shot penalty one in like 80 rounds and the am is 1 in 10.  Also they get up and down from almost everywhere.

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Ability to hit the ground in the same spot and controlling curve for long game.  Being able to control loft and spin around the green.  Read greens well.  Being able to enjoy pressure.

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I would hope a scratch golfer can hit the ground in the same spot and pretty much control curve.  Hell alot of pros don't even do that 100% of the time.

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Originally Posted by poser

I would hope a scratch golfer can hit the ground in the same spot and pretty much control curve.  Hell alot of pros don't even do that 100% of the time.

I would say scratch golfers don't have the low point control that your average tour player does.  I was watching Charlie Hoffman for about an hour a couple weeks ago and every shot was pured and didn't curve more than 5 yards, if that.  Was also hitting muscle backs super high and far.  Only a select few you'll see do that in a college event, and they're better than scratch golfers.

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They have better control of distance, spin, curve, and starting line. This is true with most clubs in the bag, but mostly at either end of the bag - driver and putter.

Watch those TM commercials with DJ and Sean O'Hair - the distances aren't impressive because I'm sure they could do that with my 3-wood - seriously their length is overrated considering it's their job - but what really impressed me was DJ's accuracy with that 3-wood. Like he was hitting a 9-iron .

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This is all academic.

The fact is, they do EVERYTHING better. Considerably better.

At the end of the week (not the day) that ends up being 30 shots better at least and that's if the "scratch" guy has a good week.

Have a look at your favourite palyer in an average PGATour event.

You think "Wow, if he hadn't had those two doubles and if he'd made those three putts and kept that one out of the water he'd have won instead of coming 54th".

It's all the little things that add up and the difference between the top guys and the journeyman pro is a million times closer to Tiger than the difference bewteen the "scratch" guy and the journeyman. It's a question of total difference, not a bunch of similarities.  Sure, we made 13 pars last Saturday and think we are pretty good, but the two double bogeys (despite the 5 birdies for the pro) in the same round means he misses the cut.

Every week we all hit shots that would satisfy a pro, but it's the scoreline that counts. The quality of the bad shots is what matters, not the quality of the good ones.

Top pros playing a tight course and being 20 under par or even even par is something that mortals dream of.

The fact that someone once shot 69 and maintains a low handicap makes us think there are similarities. There are not.

Watch a pro on the practice range hitting 3 woods that just sail out of sight time and time again. You'll see the difference.

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Originally Posted by Shorty

This is all academic.

The fact is, they do EVERYTHING better. Considerably better.

At the end of the week (not the day) that ends up being 30 shots better at least and that's if the "scratch" guy has a good week.

Have a look at your favourite palyer in an average PGATour event.

You think "Wow, if he hadn't had those two doubles and if he'd made those three putts and kept that one out of the water he'd have won instead of coming 54th".

It's all the little things that add up and the difference between the top guys and the journeyman pro is a million times closer to Tiger than the difference bewteen the "scratch" guy and the journeyman. It's a question of total difference, not a bunch of similarities.  Sure, we made 13 pars last Saturday and think we are pretty good, but the two double bogeys (despite the 5 birdies for the pro) in the same round means he misses the cut.

Every week we all hit shots that would satisfy a pro, but it's the scoreline that counts. The quality of the bad shots is what matters, not the quality of the good ones.

Top pros playing a tight course and being 20 under par or even even par is something that mortals dream of.

The fact that someone once shot 69 and maintains a low handicap makes us think there are similarities. There are not.

Watch a pro on the practice range hitting 3 woods that just sail out of sight time and time again. You'll see the difference.



Are those 20 hole rounds are an Australian custom?

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Not scratch. But I know that in golf, like most everything at the highest level, the difference between being one of the best several hundred on the planet and being just outside that group seems small statistically.

I recall a few years back that the scoring average on the PGA tour differed by less than 1.25 strokes between the top 10 player and the 151st player. That means a few putts a week is the difference between your own jet and maybe loosing your card.

One of my teaching pros tells the story of four guys on the Hooters tour sharing a cheap hotel room to save money. Only three beds so they decided the guy with the highest round each day had to sleep on the floor that night. The order remained the same every day with my pro "winning" and the same guy sleeping on the floor each night. He was a young kid out of school where he was the #2 player in a minor program that won some conference titles against other second tier schools. Shortest hitter of the bunch in the hotel. Worked mostly on his short game as they all did. Nice guy. Nothing really special about him. Nobody cashed a "big" check that week. Nobody thought they'd see the kid on the floor on the Hooter's Tour for long.

Fast forward a few years and the three guys in the beds are all teaching pros or have other real jobs. The kid who could not earn a bed for even one night wins the 2007 Masters --  Zach Johnson.

There is a thin line between very good and great... but what a tough line to get across.

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As your pro what hotel and year. I have heard this story from several people. Lack of details points to it being an urban legend.

But yeah the differences between a +4 and a scratch player is only a quarter of a shot per hole. That missing 1 more 10 footer per round, leaving that chip at 9 feet instead of 4 feet, driving leaving you a 130 yard approach shot instead of a 90 which leads to a 20 foot putt instead of a 10 footer and so on. Of course grouping all people of the same handicap together is a real simplification. Maybe you have a pga type putting game but you can only drive the ball 220 due to age. Or you can drive like a pga guy but your short game and putting (and yes getting these to pga level is just as hard as getting the long game there) is more like a 6 handicapper. And maybe you have both a pga short game and long game 90% of the time but after bogey you have a mental break down and bogey the next 3 hole a row because you have no emotional control.

Originally Posted by rustyredcab

Not scratch. But I know that in golf, like most everything at the highest level, the difference between being one of the best several hundred on the planet and being just outside that group seems small statistically.

I recall a few years back that the scoring average on the PGA tour differed by less than 1.25 strokes between the top 10 player and the 151st player. That means a few putts a week is the difference between your own jet and maybe loosing your card.

One of my teaching pros tells the story of four guys on the Hooters tour sharing a cheap hotel room to save money. Only three beds so they decided the guy with the highest round each day had to sleep on the floor that night. The order remained the same every day with my pro "winning" and the same guy sleeping on the floor each night. He was a young kid out of school where he was the #2 player in a minor program that won some conference titles against other second tier schools. Shortest hitter of the bunch in the hotel. Worked mostly on his short game as they all did. Nice guy. Nothing really special about him. Nobody cashed a "big" check that week. Nobody thought they'd see the kid on the floor on the Hooter's Tour for long.

Fast forward a few years and the three guys in the beds are all teaching pros or have other real jobs. The kid who could not earn a bed for even one night wins the 2007 Masters --  Zach Johnson.

There is a thin line between very good and great... but what a tough line to get across.



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I read that article. Very illuminating. as the difference betw a scratch and a tour pro is vast.

Bear in mind that not only is a tour pro around a plus-6 handicap, but that is on courses on tour, under tour conditions, and under tour pressure. The scratch may (and should) have competitive rounds included in their handicap calculation, but I am pretty sure it's not the Bay Hill Classic. From the tips, 7,400 yards. Greens rolling at 13 stimp & the rough jacked up.

So what's the difference? Bulletproof swings, for one. Even a scratch will have the occasional heel or snap hook, and again - put a scratch in a tour event & guess what - they ain't a scratch anymore. More like a 5.

Short game is a huge difference. And that's kinda strange, given that anyone can practice it. I mean, why should a pro be better from 20 feet than a scratch? It's not like it requires some superior level of technique or fitness.

Ah, but what's the main difference? Pros do it for a living. Every day is a day at their office - 500 balls, couple hours of short game, mix in 9 or 18. A scratch doesn't do it for a living.

As they say on tour, scratch ain't sh*t.

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Originally Posted by saevel25

So if you really want to discect your game, if you are hitting 12 or more GIR per round, then start working on getting more accurate to the target, and work on putting and short game. Until then i would try to make 12 GIR's a goal to set.

This has been my view.  No one is going to shoot low to mid 70s regularly while averaging 7 GIRs.  That's just too high an up and down percentage or too high a putting percentage from outside 15 feet to be realistic.

Of course, you have to have a reasonable short game.  I've been averaging more like 36-37 putts per round the last 3-4 weeks and am big into my own head on the green now.  Guess that means maybe I'm working too exclusively on ball striking...

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Quote:
Originally Posted by poser View Post

I would hope a scratch golfer can hit the ground in the same spot and pretty much control curve.  Hell alot of pros don't even do that 100% of the time.

I would say scratch golfers don't have the low point control that your average tour player does.  I was watching Charlie Hoffman for about an hour a couple weeks ago and every shot was pured and didn't curve more than 5 yards, if that.  Was also hitting muscle backs super high and far.  Only a select few you'll see do that in a college event, and they're better than scratch golfers.

I do this every Saturday like clockwork. Of course, it's on the putting green, but that is just a minor detail. I played golf with a buddy of mine back in the late 90s between his stint on the Canadian and PGA Tours. We played a half dozen times before the season started and it was just amazing. Having seen him and also playing with many a scratch I can safely say that a 10 cap is closer to scratch than a scratch is to Tour Quality. Sure the difference statistically seems small, but it is miles away.

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Originally Posted by mvmac

I would say scratch golfers don't have the low point control that your average tour player does.  I was watching Charlie Hoffman for about an hour a couple weeks ago and every shot was pured and didn't curve more than 5 yards, if that.  Was also hitting muscle backs super high and far.  Only a select few you'll see do that in a college event, and they're better than scratch golfers.


Depends on the quality of pro too.  I've played with some pga tour guys and I've seen them hit it fat, thin, and crappy just like me.  True is more rare but, it happens.

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Anyone can practice the long game also and the techniques are well known. Even without the power element (i.e. ignore that your 6 iron goes 150 and the pros goes 190) few people will every have swings as consistant as a pro. Part of it is training time. Part of it is that the pros have better proprioception systems. The difference is few people (out side of here) can delude themselves into thinking they can carry the ball 300 yards. Everyone gets lucky every now and then on a pitch and thinks with another couple 1000 hours of practice I could do that all day long.

Originally Posted by zipazoid

Short game is a huge difference. And that's kinda strange, given that anyone can practice it. I mean, why should a pro be better from 20 feet than a scratch? It's not like it requires some superior level of technique or fitness.



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Originally Posted by sean_miller

Are those 20 hole rounds are an Australian custom?


20 under over 4 rounds.

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