A Miscellany of Golf Numbers

A copy of 20-year-old Francis Ouimet’s playoff scorecard at the 1913 U.S. Open at The Country Club in Brookline, MA. Ouimet, defeated Vardon by five strokes and Ted Ray by 6.


Like it or not, golf is a game of numbers – lots of them. Numbers unlike people don’t have attitudes, moods, excuses, injuries, charisma, hangovers, good days, bad days, preferences or biases. They are cold, hard and unforgiving and while they don’t tell the whole story – the why – they are interesting, entertaining and meaningful for anyone who has gone to or watched a tournament on TV, has ever carried a pencil and scorecard or has had a $2-$2-$4 Nassau on the line. (Think about it. No numbers, no betting!)

I was reminded of why numbers are such an interesting, integral and fun part of golf as I watched the end of the BMW Championship at Caves Valley CC (MD). After 18 holes Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Cantlay were tied at 27 under par. Cantlay won on the sixth extra hole by making a 17-foot birdie putt and DeChambeau then missed his tying 10-foot birdie putt. For the week Cantlay averaged 36 yards shorter off the tee than DeChambeau, but he made 537 feet of putts, including 20 putts of 10 feet or more, the most since the PGA Tour started keeping such statistics in 1999. And finally, DeChambeau became the first player to shoot a 261 on the PGA Tour and not win. Oh, my!

Below are some numbers, statistics and facts that could make you the Most Interesting Man at your next dinner party.

DYK that whiffing a wrong ball is a two-stroke penalty, but if you do it again, it’s still just a total of two strokes?

DYK that at the end of 2020 there were approximately 16,100 golf courses in the U.S. Of that number, 10,400 were open to the public (2,500 Municipal and 7,900 daily fee)?

DYK that in 2020 24.8 million people took their games to the golf course?

DYK that according to the USGA at the end of 2020, 2,417,905 golfers in the U.S. had a handicap index.

DYK that average handicap index for men is 14.2 and 27.5 for women? The most common handicap index range for men is 13.0-13.9, which consists of 5.42% or just more than 95,000 golfers. The second most-common handicap is 12.0-12.9 (5.41%). That’s also slightly more than the third-most common handicap, 14.0-14.9, which is 5.37%.

DYK that only 35,883 men’s and women’s players have a plus handicap index (below 0.0). That number makes up 1.85% of men’s golfers and 0.69% of women’s players?

DYK that the average drive on the PGA Tour this year is 296.1 yards and that Bryson DeChambeau leads the tour with an average of 323 yards, which is four yards more than Rory McIlroy?

DYK that PGA pros make 87.78% of their putts from 3 to 5 feet and 42.15% of their putts from 10 feet?

DYK putts typically make up 41% of shots during a round?

DYK that Jim Furyk holds the record for the lowest round ever on the PGA Tour. In 2016 at the Travelers Championship, he shot a 12-under par 58, recording 10 birdies, an eagle and seven pars on the TPC at River Highlands in Cromwell, CT?

DYK that Phil Mickelson was a 200-1 shot at the PGA Championship in May? That made him the longest-shot Major winner in the last 20 years.

DYK Jack Nicklaus had career winnings of $5,734,000 on the PGA Tour, which is 319th on the all-time list? In all, he had 73 tour wins including 18 Majors. With his 39 PGA Tour wins and eight Majors, Tom Watson is ranked 186th with $11,081,000; Phil Mickelson (45 wins and 6 Majors) is second all-time in winnings with $94,814,000 and Tiger Woods (82 wins and 15 Majors) ranks first with $120,851,000).

DYK Sam Snead remains the PGA Tour's oldest title winner. He won the 1965 Greater Greensboro Open when he was 52 years and 10 months. In 1979, his last season on tour, he became the first PGA player to shoot his age with a 67 in the Quad Cities Open and capped that weekend with a 66.

DYK that South Africa's David Frost is the PGA Tour's record holder for the least number of putts with just 92 putts over four rounds. He set the record at the 2005 MCI Heritage at Harbour Town.  

DYK that Cameron Smith tied the PGA Tour record for fewest putts in a round (18) during his second-round 62 at this year’s FedEx St. Jude Invitational. He is now tied with 11 other players. All told, Smith made 110 feet, 3 inches worth of putts. He saved par eight times in eight tries.

DYK that The Pete Dye Course at French Lick Resort (IN) is the longest U.S. course -- 8,102 yards. It has a course rating of 80.0 and slope of 148. The next four longest are: The Reserve at Moonlight Basin (Big Sky, MT) -- 8,000 yds.; Antler Creek GC (Falcon, CO) -- 8,058 yds.; Fighting Joe Course at The Shoals (Muscle Shoals, AL) -- 8,092 yds., and Ross Bridge (Hoover, AL) -- 8,191 yds.

Play Away!

Allan Stark

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