What Does Greens In Regulation Mean In Golf?

Golf is a classic pastime enjoyed by millions around the world for many years. It’s a special kind of game that requires skill and finesse to master.

If you’ve just started watching the game or even playing then you might have heard the term ‘greens in regulation’ and wondered what it meant. Don’t worry – we’ll explain it all here!

Greens in regulation (or GIR) is an important concept for any golfer to understand if they want to improve their game. Essentially, it’s a measure of how well you’re able to get the ball on the green within the allotted number of strokes per hole.

In this article, we’ll explore exactly what greens in regulation means, its importance in golf as well as some tips and strategies on improving your GIR score. Let’s get started!

What Does Greens In Regulation Mean In Golf

Understanding The Terminology Greens In Regulation

Every hole has a ‘par score’ or the number of shots it should take you to complete the hole. Depending on the length of the hole it will be designated as a par 3, par 4 or par 5.  You do get the occasional par 6 or par 7 but they are almost as rare as hens teeth.

Since you are expected to take two putts on every green this means each type of hole will need a certain number of shots to reach the green.

ParShots for a green in regulation
Number of shots to achieve greens in regulation

So if you hit the green with your second shot on a par four that would count as a green in regulation. At the end of the round, you would add up the number of greens you hit to work out your greens in regulation percentage. 

Depending on your skill level your greens in regulation percentage would be higher or lower. An experienced golfer might expect to hit 12-14 greens per round giving a percentage in the region of 60-70%. (12/18*100=66.67%)

Average handicap golfers might aim for 40-50%, while high handicappers and beginners might only manage one or two greens in regulation every time they play.

Keeping track of this statistic is one way to see how well you are playing. If you have a handicap in single figures but you only hit 50% of the greens in the right number then you might need to look at your driving or iron play.

On the flip side if you hit a lot of greens in regulation but aren’t scoring as well as you’d like to then it may suggest that your approach play is not getting close enough to the hole or that you’re putting all green reading needs some work.

Hitting more greens in regulation should help reduce your scores but only if your proximity to the hole is good since you don’t tend to make many putts beyond about 8 feet on any sort of regular basis.

Greens hit in regulationGIR%Greens hit in regulationGIR%
GIR% for number of greens hit

Importance Of Hitting The Fairway

Depending on the type of golf course you are playing hitting the fairway can make all the difference to your chances of hitting the green in regulation. Of course, this your GIR percentage won’t be directly affected by your fairways hit percentage but for most of us if we aren’t hitting fairways it will make our approach shots that bit harder.

The modern game is mostly about smashing the ball as far as possible to leave yourself the shortest club for your approach. This so-called bomb and gouge technique has proved popular and successful for PGA Tour players like Tiger Woods but for ordinary amateur golfers, I don’t believe it is the best way to play.

Importance For Players

Just because you’ve hit all 18 greens in regulation numbers doesn’t necessarily mean you will have a great score. If you’re leaving yourself 30, 40 or even more feet from the flag then achieving a high percentage of greens in regulation is unlikely to have the effect you were hoping for.

You should also avoid getting dragged into thinking about greens in regulation if your handicap isn’t in single digits. In reality, if you play off an 18 handicap then you effectively have any shot to reach the green. Assuming you’re putting isn’t terrible you can aim to reach par threes in two shots, par fours in three shots et cetera.

In fact no matter what your handicap there will probably be some holes that you are very unlikely to reach consistently in the correct number of shots. Give yourself a break and apply your own personal par to the hole. You can either base this par on the stroke index for the hole or your own experience of playing.

If your handicap is 28 that means you have two shots on holes with a stroke index from 1-10. Do yourself a favor and add those two shots to the par four that hole. Rather than straining for a four on a 450-yard par four give yourself the luxury of up to 6 shots and you’ll probably find yourself getting a five a good percentage of the time.

Matt Fryer tips on hitting more greens

Comparing Amateur And Professional Averages

Greens in regulation used to be a key golf statistic. Although it is probably less popular now with professionals who look at strokes gained, proximity to hole and footage of putts made. Even single-figure amateur golfers typically only average around 50% greens in regulation while PGA Tour players are usually around 65%.

Knowing your greens in regulation percentage can be helpful for understanding how well or poorly you’re playing. Improving this stat should help lower scores and give amateurs an edge over their competition. With practice and dedication, you can increase your greens in regulation percentage, regardless of skill level by improving shot choices and course management.

At the time of writing the best GIR% on the European Tour is 77.78% and the lowest is 59%! Over on the PGA Tour, Scottie Scheffler is the current leader with 74% of his greens in regulation and the worst performer is currently managing only 59%. On the LPGA Tour, Atthaya Thitikul is showing the men the way with a GIR% of 84% although that’s after only 4 events!

Tips To Improve Your Performance

Improving your GIR statistic should lead to lower scores as long as your proximity to the hole is decent. Even the pros don’t hole that many 40-footers despite what you see on the TV every week.

To improve your GIR, try these tips:

  • Know your yardages. If you don’t know how far each club goes you won’t have a hope of hitting greens regularly.
  • Aim for the fat of the green. Don’t chase flags unless you are a good ball striker and you should get on the putting surface more often.
  • Be realistic. Don’t expect to hit a green in regulation if you are a 20+ handicapper. Realistically you might make 2 or 3.

By following these steps and committing yourself to consistent practice and improvement, you’ll become an even better golfer and achieve lower scores than ever before!

Tracking And Analyzing Your Statistics

To take your game to the next level, keeping track of and analyzing your statistics is key.

For amateurs fairways hit, greens in regulation and total putts are easy stats to track. I’m not saying you need to go to the lengths Matt Fitzpatrick does but just jot down those three numbers during a round of golf and then regularly check that you aren’t letting your game slide.

Impact On Scoring And Gameplay

Greens in regulation (GIR) is an important statistic for any player. How many greens you hit is likely to have an impact on your score. Getting the golf ball onto some part of the green in as few strokes as possible should lower your scores.

If you improve your GIR percentage this should lead to a greater number of birdie putts although of course, that’s not much use if you are 50 feet away!

What Does Greens In Regulation Mean In Golf: Conclusion

Greens in regulation is an important statistic for any golfer, regardless of experience or skill level. It can tell us a lot about how well we are playing and give us insight into our strengths and weaknesses on the course.

Knowing this information allows us to make adjustments that will help improve our game and ultimately lower our scores. With practice, and a better understanding of the game, every golfer can become more successful when they turn up at their golf club.

Do you have what it takes to be successful?

Frequently Asked Questions [FAQ]

Does the fringe count as the green for GIR in golf?

Statistics on the major world tours would not include the fringe as a green hit. Even if you are using a putter that would count for a missed green on tour.

How many greens in regulation should I hit?

The number of greens in regulation that you should be hitting is relative to your handicap. Bear in mind that even low-handicap golfers will only hit 10-12 greens per round. Golfers with handicaps between 10 and 18 will hit 5 to 7 greens. Players with handicaps above 18 will hit 3-4 greens or less.

How do you calculate greens in regulation?

To calculate greens in regulation and the total number of greens that you managed to hit in the correct number of shots and then divide this by 18 and multiply by a hundred to give yourself a percentage.

What is Tiger Woods average greens in regulation?

Not surprisingly Tiger Woods’s best performance was 75.2% GIR in the 99-2000 season. Even during his peak years, his percentage dropped as low as 67%. In his most recent campaigns, he has averaged below 60%.

What defines greens in regulation in golf?

Greens in regulation refers to a player getting their ball from tee to green in one, two or three shots depending on whether the hole is a par three, par four or par five respectively.

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