This is part 5 of our “What are we really measuring?” series. To view the other parts in this series, click here for part 1, here for part 2, here for part 3 and here for part 4.
Putts per round is simply the total number of putts a player has during a round of golf. On the PGA Tour, Wesley Bryan led this statistic in 2017 with 28.13 putts per round; the average was 29.08. It is easy to think that just because you had 33 putts in a round of golf, that it’s as simple as ‘just making a few more putts’ to easily shave strokes of your score.
The ‘Putts per round’ statistic doesn’t take into account from where these putts were hit from.
This number doesn’t take into account from where these putts were hit from making it very difficult to to make any kind of educated guesses regarding the quality of these players’ putting games.
From 8 feet, it takes a player on the PGA Tour 1.5 strokes to hole out.
From 8 feet, it takes a player on the PGA Tour 1.5 strokes to hole out, meaning the player makes the putt half the time on average. From 33 feet it takes that same average player 2.0 strokes to hole out, meaning that the player that gets to hit a putt from 8 feet has an enormous advantage over the player that has to hit the putt from the longer distance.
Even though a putt made from 8 feet and 33 feet both count as just 1 putt, the putt made from 33 feet is a considerably better performance than the one made from 8 ft.
Players who miss more greens in regulation tend to have fewer putts, because it is easier to hit the ball close to the hole from around the green than it is from 200 yards out in the fairway. This difference doesn’t make the latter player a worse putter just because that player takes more strokes with the putter; the key is to include the distance component when we determine how good a putt really is.