Traditional golf statistics, such as fairways hit, greens in regulation (GIR), and number of putts, only exist because they’re easy to collect. They don’t tell you what you need to know about the state of your game. These four stats do. Get a second scorecard and record them on that one, for each hole.
1. Distance to the hole, in yards (DTH). This is the vertical distance to the hole after the regulation number of strokes (par minus 2) have been taken.
DTH is measured from the ball to a line drawn through the hole at a right angle to the fairway leading up to it. If your ball is on this line or beyond it, put down a zero. You can have a positive DTH even if the ball is on the green. A good way to lower your score is to get the ball hole-high as soon as you can.
2. Number of short shots (SS). Any shot into the green that is less than a full swing goes here.
If you want to, you can write down the length of the shot (distance to the edge of the green along the line of the shot) to remind you what kind of shot it was. Clearly, you want only one SS per hole if that.
3. Length of your first putt, in feet (LFP). Circle it if you sink it. LFP is a way of evaluating your long game (if SS is zero) or your short game, if SS is 1.
4. Length of your second putt, in feet (LSP). Circle it if you sink it. An uncircled number indicates a three-putt green. LSP is a way of evaluating both your approach putting (value of LSP relative to value of LFP), and your short putting (by the value of the circled or uncircled LSP numbers).
5. Mental errors. These errors cost you extra strokes for no reason. Examples are not being confident while hitting the shot, quitting on the shot (common in the short game), thinking too much about results, and so forth. Mental errors are not random. If you keep track of them, you will find a pattern of them occurring with particular shots, or at similar points in the round. Knowing that, you can take the proper corrective action.
Put a check mark in one of the four boxes above to indicate a mental error on that shot. You’ll remember what it was.
If you’re a beginning golfer, keep track of these two numbers only: number of fairways hit, and number of three-putt greens. These entry-level indicators show you how well you’re doing at learning golf’s two fundamental skills, the swing and putting.