Golf can be maddening, and when bad shots add up we tend to beat ourselves up, which, obviously, cuts into our enjoyment of the game. But Lou Stagner is here to tell you that our frustration is often misguided.
Lou is the data insights lead at Arccos Golf. He’s also a performance coach and Twitter guru (@LouStagner) who uses analytics-based insights to guide his pupils and nearly 100,000 followers. His goal? To take the hundreds of millions of data points Arccos has accumulated and help golfers play and practice better by teaching them to manage expectations.
“Having expectations that are appropriate for your skill level helps you remove pressure,” Stagner says. In other words, have realistic goals. Give yourself a break. And, by all means, don’t fall into the trap of constantly comparing yourself to the pros. There’s a reason why, on a Sunday afternoon in April, they’re at the Masters and you’re on your third G&T.
Below are key stats — all of them courtesy of Arccos, except the Tour pro numbers gathered by GOLF — and common sense goals for a variety of skill levels.
Average distance off the tee
Lou’s take: “Clubhead speed is typically correlated very closely to skill. And, according to the numbers, speed is the driver of skill.”
Your goal: Work on boosting your clubhead speed. Try a training aid like The Stack System (available below). After a few months of work, you’ll be swinging it faster than ever. Up your speed and you’ll watch your handicap come down.
All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team.
If you buy a linked product,
GOLF.COM may earn a fee. Pricing may vary.
5 milled Stack weights enable 30 weight combinations between 0g and 300g
Dual-purpose weight case / phone stand
Highly engineered training club – Adult (41.5″) or Junior (38.5″) version (see Fitting Juniors)
Speed radar not included. View all compatible devices here. We recommend The SC200 Plus for players who hit their driver <270 yards, and the The PRGR Black Pocket for players 270 yards+. TheStack App Training 2-year License included, accessible on iOS only. Dynamic speed training formulated by Dr. Sasho MacKenzie Guided workout timer for reps, sets, and rest intervals Custom speed metrics to track your gains Hands-free data entry using voice entry technology Includes access to Stack Putting (Beta) – Learn more Includes Single User License – Enables training and tracking for up to five local (i.e. family) users under one login. Multi-user Coaches License license sold separately. Access TheStack App from the App Store when your order arrives. Requires iOS 15.0 or later. See our FAQ pages for questions about subscriptions.
Average # of fairways hit
Lou’s take: “The small gap between scratch and 20-handicaps might come as a surprise, but there’s a good reason. Everyone hits their drives into a ‘cone,’ and the farther you get from the tee box, the wider the cone gets. By being long off the tee, lower handicap players have more opportunity to miss the fairway.”
Your goal: Avoid the mindset of slowing down your swing to try to hit fairways. It’s true that the longer you bomb it, the more difficult it is to find the fairway. But that’s normal! Your 9-iron from the rough will leave you in a better position than your 6-iron from the fairway.
Average proximity to the hole from 100 yards in the fairway
Lou’s take: “From 100 yards, the recreational golfer’s objective is to put it anywhere on the green and two-putt. Do that as a 10-handicap and you’ll definitely gain shots on your approach.”
Your goal: Even from 100 yards, pick a target at the center of the green. Flag-hunting is for showboats and those who didn’t get enough beach time over the summer. Hit it to the center of the green, make your two-putt and take solace knowing you avoided disaster.
Up-and-down % from 30 yards
Lou’s take: “It sounds ridiculous, but it’s so important that your focus on these shots is to simply give yourself a putt. Make sure your next shot is a putt. Players would improve their scores so much if they just did that.”
Your goal: Know when to take your medicine, even if that means aiming away from the flag.
Make rate from 6 feet
Lou’s take: “If you’re not a scratch player, you are making less than half of your putts from six feet. Even if you’re a really good recreational golfer, from six feet it’s essentially a coin flip.”
Your goal: Be determined but earthbound. Practice your putting inside 10 feet. A great tool is the Cup Reducer from Short Game Gains (below). If you can make putts into a reduced-size cup, a real one will look like a basketball hoop. But don’t be hard on yourself when those putts don’t always fall — even the pros don’t make ’em all.
The ability to narrow down your focus on a smaller target is something you will hear the best golfers in the world constantly talk about. With the help from the Short Game Gains putting cup reducer you can decrease the size of the hole two different levels. You can also put graphics on the actual cup to further narrow down your focus on a specific part of the actual hole. Putting to a smaller target in practice will also make the regular cup look bigger during the round which can increase your confidence and help you put a better stroke on your putts!
Three-putt % from 40 feet
Lou’s take: “Speed control, particularly on long putts, is immensely important. But the data suggests that rec players aren’t always mindful of that. Unless you’re inside six or seven feet, two-putting is the key to good scoring. The best way to reduce three-putts is to center your pattern around the hole, and that starts with speed control.”
Your goal: Be sure to dial in your speed before a round. Get the speed of your lag putts correct and you’ll three-putt far less often.