How Good Are Professional Golfers at Pitching?
All golfers want to play better, improve their handicap, and lower their scores on a consistent basis. Most amateurs might think that the best way to do just that is to gain extra yards off the tee, but that isn’t necessarily the answer.
Yes hitting longer drives will help, but the key to consistent improvement is better performance with your scoring clubs. That 280+ yard drive is of no use if you miss the green from 60 yards away.
In order to grasp how good the best players in the world are with their scoring clubs, let’s take a look at the 5 following key pitching statistics from the 2017 PGA Tour season.
- Green in Regulation (GIR) Percentage <75 Yards
- Approaches from 50-75 Yards – Proximity to Hole
- Approaches from 50-75 Yards – Relation to Par
- Scrambling > 30 Yards
- Proximity to Hole – 30+ Yards
Green in Regulation (GIR) Percentage <75 Yards
A common mistake that a lot of amateur golfers make is to miss the green with a wedge in their hands, but to make it worse a lot of greens are missed from within 75 yards of the green.
In 2017 Luke Donald hit 95.08% of greens from 75 yards and in, Donald had 61 attempts, missing the green on only 3 occasions.
Dustin Johnson, arguable one of the longest hitters on tour was able to capitalize on his length to some extent in 2017. Johnson had 191 approach shots within 75 yards of the green, hitting the green on 170 times.
In 2018 Johnson will most likely want to be better from 75 yards and in, with his distance off the tee he will be hard to beat if he is firing on all cylinders with his scoring clubs.
Approaches from 50-75 Yards – Proximity to Hole
Hitting the green is priority number 1 with a wedge in hand, but ideally you want to hit it as close as possible to the hole.
Seamus Power was the leader in that stat, with an average proximity to the hole of 7’10”.
Hitting it close is important, but making the putt that follows is what matters most.
Jordan Spieth had 26 approach shots between 50 and 75 yards in 2017, his average proximity to the hole was 11’4”.
Spieth is renowned for making a lot of putts over 10 feet, and when looking at this stat that fact holds true, Spieth was 12 under par for the 26 attempts that he had. In comparison Dustin Johnson also had 26 attempts, but he was only 4 under par.
Approaches from 50-75 Yards – Relation to Par
Yet again Jordan Spieth performed very well in this category in 2017, Spieth finished -0.462 in relation to par on approach shots hit between 50 and 75 yards.
Professionals that finish over par in this category are definitely surrendering shots to the rest of the field on average.
Si Woo Kim ranked 150th at +0.080 to par, when he won the Players Championship earlier in the year he definitely had better success in this category for that week.
Scrambling >30 Yards
Approach shots between 50 and 75 yards are common for long hitters that hit it a mile off the tee, but shorter hitters often times don’t make it all the way to the green in regulation.
Short hitters are faced with pitch shots from 30+ yards on numerous occasions.
In order to set good practice goals let’s take a look at the scrambling stats from 30+ yards on the PGA Tour in 2017.
Louis Oosthuizen was the leader in this category getting the ball up and down 42.59% of the time when faced with a pitch shot from 30+ yards.
On the other end of the spectrum Whee Kim ranked 150th, getting up and down 24.18% of the time. Trying to get 4 out of 10 pitch shots up and down from 30+ yards will be a good practice goal to set when working on your pitching.
Proximity to Hole – 30+ Yards
Amateur golfers get frustrated when they don’t stick a 30 yard pitch shot right next to the flag. Brian Gay leads this category, his proximity to the hole from 30+ yards is 9’11”.
Anytime you hit a pitch shot within 15 feet from the flag you should be happy as an amateur golfer. Golf is hard enough as it is, don’t beat yourself up on top of that.