These surprising PGA Tour statistics prove you’re holding yourself to an impossible standard

When you watch a PGA Tour event on TV, it’s easy to convince yourself that the pros play flawless golf. The truth is, they don’t! And the fact that recreational players expect a pro-level of perfection in their own games sets up a nearly impossible standard, since even the pros we aim to emulate aren’t able to do what we expect.

On this week’s episode of Off Course with Claude Harmon, golf analytics expert Lou Stagner revealed some surprising PGA Tour statistics that can help golfers of all abilities come back down to earth when it comes to expectations for their own games.

For example, if you think Tour players always chip it tight, consider this stat: From 20 feet away from the hole, 50 percent of Tour players hit it outside of six feet. Surprising, isn’t it? How about this one:

“I’ve put so many things out there, this is one I’ve memorized: It’s the 20-10-8 rule,” Stagner said. “On the PGA Tour, from 20 yards in the rough, when you have at least 10 yards of green to work with, [Tour pros] leave 50 percent of their shots outside of eight feet.”

Golfer reading scorecard
Why the key to lowering your handicap *isn’t* making more birdies
By: Jessica Marksbury

What recreational players need to take away from this is the fact that leaving yourself an eight or even 10-foot putt for par from this distance isn’t really a bad shot at all.

And what about Tiger Woods, the greatest player of his generation, and perhaps, of all-time?

Stagner said Woods missed the green a surprising 20 percent of the time from 100-110 yards from the hole. And that’s Tiger Woods.

Stagner says that that statistic is right around Tour average from that distance. He hopes that by publicizing these numbers on his Twitter feed, he can help give players some greater context of what’s good and bad in their own games.

“If their expectations are warped, if they think they should be hitting everything relatively stiff, when they don’t, they start to get upset,” Stagner said. “And ironically, their reaction, which is unfounded — they shouldn’t be hitting the ball that well, they’re amateur players — when they react the way that they do, they then, in turn, actually impact that skill, and get worse at that skill. And so having realistic expectations can actually help you play a little bit better.”

For more from Stagner, including why the key to lowering your handicap isn’t making more birdies, and the optimal putt-length to practice in your free time, check out the full interview below.

jessica marksbury

Golf.com Photographer

As a four-year member of Columbia’s inaugural class of female varsity golfers, Jessica can out-birdie everyone on the masthead. She can out-hustle them in the office, too, where she’s primarily responsible for producing both print and online features, and overseeing major special projects, such as GOLF’s inaugural Style Is­sue, which debuted in February 2018. Her origi­nal interview series, “A Round With,” debuted in November of 2015, and appeared in both in the magazine and in video form on GOLF.com.