For decades, the Putts Per Round (PPR) metric has been used to track the performance of golfers on the putting green — across players of all skill levels.
Simply put, it’s a measure of your putting efficiency through 18 holes.
In this article, I’ll break down the average putts per round by handicap level. That way, you can see how putting performance varies according to skill level.
So without hesitation, let’s get into it!
Putts Per Round By Handicap
Below, you’ll find a comparison of putts per round by handicap:
|Handicap||Average Putts Per Round||Strokes Gained Putting||Average Score Over Par||Strokes Gained Overall|
First, let’s clarify the information shown in each column of the table:
- Handicap: The numerical measure of a golfer’s potential
- Average putts per round: The number of putts in an 18-hole round
- Strokes gained putting: The number of putts taken relative to a scratch golfer
- Average score over par: The 18-hole score, relative to par
- Strokes gained overall: The total number of strokes, relative to a scratch golfer
Shot Scope, the industry leader in golf performance tracking technology, collects data from over 200+ million shots by its app users every year.
Similarly, The Grint is an app that delivers a handicap service, while also collecting score information from its large network of golfers around the world.
For the information in this study, I combined datasets to provide a realistic overview.
From the data, I was surprised to see that when comparing a scratch golfer to a 25-handicapper — the number of putts per round differed by just 4 shots.
Considering the differences in average scores relative to par, the number of strokes lost on the green is far less significant than those lost elsewhere on the course.
The difference in the number of putts per round by handicap is probably less than you’d expect. This means the vast majority of strokes lost happen between the tee and the green — rather than on the green itself.
Having said that, it’s important to consider greens in regulation when comparing putts per round by handicap. For instance, scratch golfers are more likely to hit the green on their second shot from a full-swing mid-iron or wedge.
On the other hand, higher handicappers are likely to miss the green more frequently on approach shots. This means they’re probably chipping onto the green from a much closer range, increasing their chances of taking fewer putts on the green itself.
3 Putts Per Round By Handicap
|Handicap||Average Holes Per 3 Putt||Average 3 Putts Per Round|
On average, a scratch golfer will 3 putt one in every 39.2 holes. This equates to just 0.46 3 putts per round — a drastically low number!
At the other end of the spectrum, a 25-handicapper will 3 putt one in every 7.6 holes on average. This equates to 2.37 3 putts per round.
When comparing the number of 3 putts per round by handicap, the data tells us that scratch golfers will 3 putt only once every two rounds. However, a 25-handicap golfer will 3 putt at least twice per round.
Ultimately, the data shows how far scratch golfers excel compared to the general golfing population. Eliminating 3 putts goes a long way to posting a good score.
Once again, it’s worth noting that scratch golfers are more likely to hit greens in regulation compared to higher handicappers — which can skew the data.
How to Reduce Your Putts Per Round
To reduce the number of putts per round — regardless of your handicap — there are several fundamental areas you can focus on improving:
- Green Reading: Understanding how the ball will react to the slope and the grain direction will give you the best chance of minimizing three-putts. Methods like AimPoint can be useful for methodically reading the break of the slope.
- Putting Technique: Practice consistently to improve your stroke, rhythm, grip, and stance. That way, you can build a solid and reliable technique that will unlock a level of consistency on the greens.
- Master Distance Control: Often, three-putts come as a result of improper distance control. I’ve had times where I’ve obsessed over the line and ended up either overhitting or falling well short of the hole. By improving your lag putting and distance control, you’ll give yourself a shorter second putt.
- Improve Approach Shots: Lastly, an easy way to improve your chances on the greens is to hit the ball closer in the first place! Sounds easy — I know. But seriously, improving your approaches will reduce your putts per round.
Check out the video below by Rick Shiels, where he enlists renowned putting coach Phil Kenyon to give some key advice to help you improve your putting game:
In summary, the number of putts per round by handicap ranges from 29.3 putts for a scratch golfer — up to 33.3 putts for a 25-handicapper.
The difference in strokes gained surprised me! Scratch golfers are separated from 25-handicap golfers by just 4 strokes per round on the greens.
However, it’s worth remembering that this data doesn’t factor in proximity to the hole for the first putt. Scratch golfers are more likely to attack the pin on their second shot, which puts them at a disadvantage compared to a closer approach shot.
That said, I believe the data shows that the true gains can be made elsewhere on the golf course — most likely by eliminating duff shots and by improved chipping.