How to Predict Your Golf Score by the Number of Greens Hit in Regulation

The Greenbrier Classic - Round One

Golf lends itself to a high degree of statistical analysis. At the game’s highest levels, golfers are judged by statistics such as average driving distance, proximity to the hole and strokes gained while putting. But the stat that best predicts a player’s performance is the number of greens hit in regulation, according to Lucius Riccio, a longtime member of the United States Golf Association’s handicap research team. Running Riccio’s formula can help you determine what you’re doing well on the course, and which parts of your game need improvement.

Add the number of greens you’ve hit in regulation during a round. To determine whether you’ve hit a green in regulation, subtract two from a hole’s par. To hit a par-3 green in regulation, for example, your tee shot must land on the green.

Multiply the number of greens you’ve hit in regulation by two.

Subtract your total from 95 to predict your 18-hole score. For example, if you hit four of 18 greens in regulation, multiply 4 times 2, for a total of 8. Subtract 8 from 95, for a predicted score of 87.


Gather some old scorecards in which you’ve recorded your total score, and the number of greens you hit in regulation. If you don’t have any old scorecards -- or haven’t listed the number of greens you hit in regulation -- begin recording the statistic when you play and keep the scorecards. Run the calculation listed above on each scorecard and monitor whether your scores are close to the predicted numbers. If your scores are consistently better than predicted, you’re either hitting your approach shots very close to the hole, or you’re putting very well, or both. When you practice, focus on improving your long game so you can hit more greens in regulation.

If the calculations show that you’re scoring worse than expected, you need to work on your putting.