The ultimate golf strategy guide

The Arccos shot-tracking system has captured almost two-thirds of a billion shots, hit by golfers just like you. Here, Arccos stat expert Lou Stagner crunches the numbers to reveal five strategies that will change the way you approach a round of golf…

What do 650,000,000 amateur golf shots tell us about the way we play golf? Pretty much everything. I could give you the success rate of 10-handicappers attacking front-right pins from 175 yards in the right-hand rough; or of 20-handicappers driving the green on par 4s over 325 yards (actually you can probably work that one out yourself). But underpinning almost every stat we care to pull up is a clear and important theme: we golfers have a poor understanding of our games, both in terms of what we think we ought to be doing, and what we actually are doing – and it is harming our performance.

To explain how we know this, we need to talk briefly about the Strokes Gained metric devised by Dr Mark Broadie, and which has been part of the Arccos platform since 2020.

In Strokes Gained, every shot you hit is compared to an average or typical result for a golfer of your ability to give it a value – a positive gain if the result is better than the average, or a negative loss if it is worse. Thanks to the immense number of shots recorded on the Arccos system across all handicap ranges, we have a pretty robust picture of what those averages look like. Picture, for example, a 15-handicapper, 150 yards from the green in the fairway. Their shot comes up short, ending up on the apron some 19 yards from the hole. That might not seem like a great effort, but the data tells us it’s bang on the average: with that shot, this golfer is doing neither worse nor better than they ought to do.

You can save shots in every round of golf just by making better strategic decisions

Indeed, the averages collated by Arccos figures flag up just how unrealistic our expectations are.

To give you two more examples:

– A 15-handicapper, 225 yards out in the fairway? Typically 63 yards from the hole.

– A 20-handicapper, 150 yards out in the fairway? Typically 23 yards from the hole.

Would you call ‘good shot!’ after witnessing either of those shots? Almost certainly not. But in my opinion, any result that is no worse than what a golfer of your ability ought to be doing can be defined as a ‘good shot’. In other words, it has a Strokes Gained value of 0.00, neither lowering nor raising your expected score.

So why does this matter? Well, for two big reasons:

1. Unrealistic expectation leads to poor shot selection. If you think you are better than you are, you will take on shots you shouldn’t. That’s bad news for the scorecard.

2. Unrealistic expectation leads to a lot of negativity. Frustration, disappointment and anger are poor states in which to make our best decisions and play our best golf.

When we have more realistic ambitions, as proved by the cold, hard data, we can select more appropriate targets and bring a most valuable asset – acceptance – into our game. Golfers who have done this invariably report both improved performance and lower scores.

We will talk more about realistic expectation as we apply Arccos data insights to every part of the bag. But for now it’s important to note that averages, while vital for setting performance benchmarks, will only tell you part of the story.

Arccos gives its users individual Strokes Gained data for every facet of their game. Getting your own data is extremely important because it allows you to identify your unique strengths and weaknesses, versus other golfers of your ability. Only when you have this can you chart an intelligent and effective coaching and practice plan – something we all need if we are to make the progress we desire.

Visit the Today’s Golfer Members’ Website to learn the perfect strategy on tee shots, long game, approach shots, around the green, and putting. It will help you make better decisions on the course and show you which areas of your game need improving to make the biggest difference to your scores.

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