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Concentrating on your ball alignment is the first step in improving your approach shots.
Concentrating on your ball alignment is the first step in improving your approach shots. (WorldGolf.com file photo)

Why 'greens in regulation' stats are misleading

Chuck EvansBy Chuck Evans,
Special Contributor

We all read about GIR's - greens in regulation - and are told that this statistic is one of the "Golden Rules" to better golf.

I've got news for you - it can be totally misleading!

What do I mean? Consider this example: You hit your approach shot to the green and you have a 65 foot putt. Your playing partner misses the green but only has 10 feet to the hole. Which one would you prefer?

Obviously the closer one.

In our Player Development Program we have our players keep detailed stats for every shot they hit. Not only fairways, greens, putts and up and downs, but also whether the ball curved, and which direction the divot went: in front of the ball, behind it, or no divot at all. But the biggest one we ask them to keep is proximity to the hole on their approach shots.

For instance, Jason Gore ranks 192nd in proximity to the hole with 41 feet 4 inches and is 35th in GIR. Tiger Woods, on the other hand, ranks #1 on GIR and #8 in proximity with 33 feet.

These are shots from the fairway and reflect the week before The Masters. This data is from PGA Tour.com and is under Shotlink.

To capture this data we use a device called the eDataCoach.

Once the data is recorded by the player it can be either stored on the player's computer or uploaded to the eDataCoach site. In either case the player now has a complete statistical analysis of what is happening on the course instead of guessing what is going on.

So what does all of this mean to the average player? If the world's best players struggle with their distance's from the hole then we all will too.

I would suggest that when practicing you learn how to start the ball on the line you would like for it to go. You can do this by simply placing a couple of shafts in the ground - like goal posts - approximately 15 feet in front of the ball. If the target line is dead center then the posts would be parallel to it.

Place one shaft even with your heels and the other three feet to the right of the target line - for a right-handed player - and then work on getting the ball through the "goal posts."

You cannot fix the curve until you have fixed the starting direction.

By doing this drill your ball will start at the target more often and you will be hitting it closer.

Chuck Evans, G.S.E.D., a Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher, is one of only 31 golf instructors worldwide designated to hold a doctorate in golf stroke engineering. He is executive director of instruction for the Medicus Golf Institute and has served as director of schools for the PGA Tour Golf Academy, and as director of instruction for the United States Golf Institute. He is also the author of "How To Build Your Golf Swing."

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