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What Is Your 'Scratch Level'?

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One of the things that most non-golfers do not understand is that every golfer, excluding a few hundred amateur golfers and tour players, would trade his or her current golf game to be a scratch golfer. A "Scratch Golfer" is someone who shoots par or even under par, somewhat frequently. The three biggest reasons I've found that a player cannot be a "Scratch" are distance, short game and athletic ability. However, every single golfer has a "Scratch Level", or rather the highest level one can play at with length and short game being the only real obstacles.

How does a golfer evaluate their "Scratch Level" you ask? As previously stated, the biggest influence in a players "Scratch Level" are distance, or in this case how many greens can one reach in regulation and short game, and short game, how frequently can the golfer save par when the green is not hit in regulation? Take the scorecard from the course that you regularly play and go hole by hole and figure out how many of the par 3's you can reach in one shot, how many of the par 4's you can reach in two shots, and how many of the par 5's you can reach in three shots. For example, if Player A is only able to reach eight greens a round in regulation, of the 18 greens, how realistic is it that Player A will be a "Scratch"? The answer is: not very realistic. Player A would have to hit every green that was reachable and get the ball up and down on all 10 holes where the green was not hit in regulation and also probably have no penalty shots or three putts throughout the entire course of the round.

PGATOUR.com statistics show that the tour average in scrambling through March 17, 2013 is 59.64 percent. So I would say for the average player to hit that level would be unrealistic given the differentiated talent levels. A lofty goal for someone who is not a tour player would be to get the ball up and down and save par on 50 percent of the occasions. Distance is also a factor in short game, because if Player A is playing a really long golf course where is the ball being left on the holes that are not able to be hit in regulation? The ball is probably ending up further from the green than would usual, making even that 50 percent goal somewhat unrealistic.

My goal rationed assessment of Player A would be that his "Scratch Level" would be a seven handicap. This player would realistically hit 50 percent of the greens that were reachable, four of eight, and then average a two putt on those four greens. Of the 14 missed greens, saving par 50 percent of the time would be a very good average. If on the remaining seven holes, bogeys were made the player would shoot seven over par, ergo Player A would have a "Scratch Level" of a seven handicap. There is no exact or perfect way to set goals, and this is merely one option for the golfing public. If you are a golfer like Player A and your handicap is higher than seven, start to figure out what your weaknesses are and address them. If you are like Player A and are a seven handicap or less, then congratulations because you have a tour level short game and ball striking ability.

If you feel like you are getting the most out of your ball striking and want to shoot lower scores "Tee It Forward." I saw a stat on television during Friday's round at Doral in 2013, the Cadillac Championship that Bubba Watson's average distance for his second shots on the par fours was a mere 115 yards. What would you shoot if you only had 115 yards in on your second shots of all of the par fours? If you would like to play the game more like Bubba Watson, then I have a solution for you. The PGA of America, through its "Play Golf America" and "Get Golf Ready" campaigns, has teamed up with the USGA a couple years ago for a program called "Tee It Forward." This program encourages golfers to play from a shorter set of tees to make the game more length appropriate, play faster, and give the golfer a better chance to shoot a low score, thus, making the golfing experience more enjoyable for everyone.

If you have any questions you can reach me through my website JJAGOLF.com.

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