What Are Greens in Regulation and Why So Important?

Understanding the Term – Greens in Regulation

If you’re new to the game of golf and wondering what in the world the term green in regulation stands for, then you’ve come to the right place. In today’s brief article we’ll discuss what it means and why it’s important.

A “green in regulation,” also abbreviated GIR, is a statistical category on the PGA Tour that tracks the number of greens the professional golfer reached within the allowed amount of strokes.

To calculate the allowed number of strokes for reaching a green, take the par value and subtract 2 from it (which stands for two putts that you’re allowing yourself).

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Best GIR on the PGA Tour

The tours rank golfers based on GIR percentage – hitting 18 out of 18 greens is a 100-percent GIR rating.

You can view the current leaders here:

Amateur and recreational golfers also keep track of this statistic to judge their performance at hitting approach shots into the green successfully, setting themselves up for birdie putts.

To achieve a green in regulation, your golf ball must be on the putting surface in the expected number of strokes in relation to par. And the par number for a hole always includes two putts.

If the ball sits on the fringe, it does not count as a green in regulation. It has to be on the putting surface. I’ve had some close calls before where the ball is sitting an inch onto the fringe, just missing out on being on the green and unfortunately I can’t count this as a green in regulation.

What Counts as a Green in Regulation?

In order to earn a GIR, your ball must be on the putting green within the following strokes for each par value:

  • in one stroke on a par-3 hole;
  • in two (or fewer) strokes on a par-4;
  • or in three (or fewer) strokes on a par-5.

Par-6 holes are rare, but getting your ball on the green in four or fewer strokes on a par-6 also counts as a green-in-regulation.

A quick way to calculate the GIR number is to simply subtract 2 from the par value. For example a par 4, you would subtract 2, leaving you two strokes.

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Why is the Green in Regulation Statistic Important

The greens in regulation statistic is a great way to measure your ability to hit your approach shot onto the green. On a par 4 hole, you would hit your drive into the fairway and then hit your second shot to the green. You then have two putts to get the ball into the hole to make par on the par 4 hole.

By missing the green on your second shot, you’re jeopardizing your ability to still make par as you can no longer two putt and still make par. Instead you have to hit your 3rd shot onto the green and hopefully make the putt on your 4th shot to save par.

At the end of your round, you’ll be able to see how many greens in regulation you hit and determine weakness in your golf game.

If you’re hitting a high percentage of greens in regulation but still bogeying the hole, then it’s your putting letting you down.

If you’re missing greens in regulation but still making par, then it shows you have a strong short game and are saving par with the wedge and putter.

A low GIR percentage alerts you to the fact that you need to work on your iron play and get a more controllable golf swing that can successfully hit the ball onto the green.

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PGA Tour Green in Regulation Leaders

How many greens are hit by the pro golfers during a round of golf? A lot more than most of us hit!

If you view the PGA Statistics above via the link, you’ll see at the time of publishing this post Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson top the list for #1 and #2 with the highest GIR percentage.

Both golfers are hitting around 75% of the greens in regulation which on an 18 hole course this would translate to about 14 holes out of 18 that they hit the green in regulation. Pretty good! Only 4 to 5 holes that they have to pull out the wedge to save themselves.

Since the PGA Tour began officially keeping the GIR stat in 1980, the lowest GIR to lead the tour is 70.34-percent by Justin Rose in 2012; and the highest is 75.15-percent by Tiger Woods in 2000. Even the worst golfer on the PGA Tour at hitting greens typically has around a 60-percent GIR percentage over the course of a year.

The highest greens-in-regulation percentages recorded on the major tours for one season are:

  • PGA Tour: 75.15-percent, Tiger Woods, 2000
  • European Tour: 80.8-percent, Justin Rose, 2012
  • LPGA Tour: 79.7-percent, Annika Sorenstam in 2001 and 2002

(PGA Tour record since 1980, European Tour since 1998, LPGA Tour since 1992.)

Since the tour began tracking GIR, no golfer on the PGA Tour has hit all 72 greens in regulation in a four-round tournament, but two have come close. Peter Jacobsen at the 1995 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and Jerry Kelly at the 1996 Walt Disney World/Oldsmobile Classic each hit 69 of 72 greens, the tour record.

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How to Find Your Green in Regulation Average

For the next 10 rounds of golf, I want you to track your greens in regulation and see what your average is. On your score card, find an empty row and write in GIR in the name column.

Then for each hole, write in an X if you miss the green and a check mark if you hit the green in regulation.

At the end of 9 holes, tally up your check marks and write the total out of 9. Repeat this for the back 9 holes. At the end of your 18 hole round, add the two scores together to get your total greens in regulation for the entire golf round.

After completing 10 rounds of golf, find the average score and percentage. Total up the number of greens in regulation hit over the 10 rounds and divide this total number by 10 to get your average. Then divide this number by 18 to get the percentage.

Over time you can work to improve your green in regulation percentage, which will help lower your golf scores and take pressure off your short game. It will also give you more birdie opportunities!

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