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Thinking of becoming a Tour Player - This is what it takes!

Thinking of becoming a Tour Player – This is what it takes!

Thinking of becoming a Tour Player – This is what it takes!

Golf Chats is a website to encourage discussions on various subjects relating to the game of golf. I am Mel Sole, Director of Instruction of the Mel Sole Golf School and SAPGA Master Professional.  I invite you to enter into a discussion on this or any article on the website.  The input is for the entire subscriber base to learn something new each time!  Please post your comments below.  Keep it clean and tasteful.  We are here to learn from one another!

Occasionally a golfer approaches me with the request to help with his/her game as he/she considers trying to qualify for the PGA or LPGA Tour.  One of the first things I emphasize is how good they have to be before they even attempt a qualifying school.  Peter Sanders of Golfwrx has put together a great statistical analysis of the true difference between a scratch player and a PGA Tour player.  If you still think you can make it, give me a call.  I will be happy to help you on your journey!

You might ask: How would I know the differences between a scratch golfer and a PGA Tour player?

Well, it is my full-time job to know these type of things about golf. I have been studying the game from a statistical standpoint for 27 years. I created the Strokes Gained analysis website,, and work with PGA Tour members to extract clear answers from the Tour’s overwhelming 653 ShotLink stats.

My experience tells me that there is no such thing as an average game, no matter the handicap level. We’re all snowflakes and find our own unique way to shoot our number. With that said,’s 260,000+ round database enables us to create a composite sketch of the average golfer at each level. One of the beauties of our averages is that they are smooth across all five major facets so that every individual golfer’s strengths and weaknesses — and we all have them — stand out clearly by comparison.

The Data Used for this Study

  • Mr. Scratch: I averaged the 8,360 rounds in our database that match the zero handicap criteria. In other words, the rounds when Mr. Scratch actually played to his 0 handicap.
  • PGA Tour: The average of the 14,557 ShotLink rounds recorded in the 2015 season.

The Math

The USGA’s Course and Slope rating system does a sophisticated job of evaluating the relative difficulty of our golf courses. I joined my local course rating committee shortly after the new “Slope” system was added. My specific goal was to gain an understanding of how the system works so that I could effectively apply it in my analysis program.

Thinking of becoming a Tour Player - This is what it takes!

For the purposes of this article, the Course Rating reflects the relative course par for the scratch golfer. The chart below tells us that the PGA Tour scoring average is 2.25 strokes better than Mr. Scratch. Further, Tour players are playing courses that are 3.2 strokes more difficult. The net result is a 5.45-shot difference between Tour players and Mr. Scratch, but let’s just call it 5.5.

Thinking of becoming a Tour Player – This is what it takes!


Thinking of becoming a Tour Player - This is what it takes!

The chart above shows us that the biggest piece of the 5.5-shot pie falls into the Driving category, or Distance, which makes sense to me. To play the game for a living, one must be able to hit it straight and far. Even Zach Johnson, with whom I have had the great pleasure of working with for five years, is often considered a short hitter. I contend that he is simply more intelligent and recognizes the true value of accuracy. Zach is averaging 281 yards this year, only seven off of the Tour average. Short? Not by my standards.

The chart below indicates that the driving distance gap between the Tour and Mr. Scratch is 33 yards. The average approach shot distance on the PGA Tour is 175 yards. Adding the 33 yards to all 14 driving holes puts Mr. Scratch’s average approach distance at just over 205 yards. The Strokes Gained value of this added distance is 2.52 strokes (0.18 per attempt x 14 driving holes = 2.52).

Read the rest of this article on the difference between a scratch player and the PGA Tour players. Go here!

Source: Peter Sanders     Golfwrx

Pictures: Peter Sanders     Golfwrx

Thanks for reading – Thinking of becoming a Tour Player – This is what it takes!

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