Golfers are generally a highly competitive bunch. While many try to play simply for fun it is very hard to resist the urge to be competitive.
What makes the game even more interesting is that you not only compete with other players but also with yourself. Many players wonder what percentage of golfers break 100.
If you have been playing for many years, this goal might be a distant memory. For new golfers, it is generally one of the first significant milestones and a goal many set for themselves.
Once that has been achieved there is little time to celebrate as the player then wants to break 90 then 80 and lower according to their skill, experience, and commitment. You can never win at golf because you will always want to improve.
Why Not Use The Handicap System To Measure Progress?
While this is a useful measurement tool to determine your improvement people like to set a numerical score goal as it is something that can be measured immediately and is tangible.
Many golfers play frequently but never get a formal handicap so this is a great tool for them.
If you want to use handicap as a measurement tool, the official US Golf Association, USGA, provides interesting statistics.
If you follow the trends you will notice an ongoing improvement amongst golfers. People are clearly playing and practicing more often in this shows in the figures.
Improvements in golf equipment and more investment by players are other factors that contribute towards this improvement.
The average male handicap has improved from 16.3 to 14.4 in the past 25 years. The trends for lady golfers are similar. Although it is hard to compare apples with apples, this is a greater improvement over time than most other sports.
Some might argue that this is all due to technological improvements in equipment and in real terms they have not improved significantly if at all.
Others argue that other aspects of golf, such as the short game especially faster green speeds, has made the game more challenging. Either way, there is constant improvement.
Why Do Golfers Want To Break 100?
Handicap or no handicap, most players set their first major goal at breaking 100. Some natural golfers that have had a bit of practice before playing on a course might even break 100 before setting this goal.
They will generally go straight on to trying to break 90 as their first goal. For the average beginner, 100 is a mental barrier that they wish to conquer before setting their aim at 90 or 80.
There is lots of advice on how to achieve this first goal but the technique or focus will differ from golfer to golfer. Look to see where you are wasting stokes and try to work on the weakness in your game.
It might be driving or longer shots but more often than not it is in the short game, approach shots and putting.
You do not need dramatic improvement to break 100 and you can do it without birdies and even without pars. 9 Double bogeys and 9 bogeys will do the trick.
Just focus on the areas where you are giving shots away and you should break this barrier fairly easily.
Golf is meant to be a challenge and would not be as exciting and addictive if it were very easy. Your mental game is also very important so achieving this and other milestones will boost your confidence and give you a sense of achievement.
So How Many Golfers Break 100?
Back to the original question. Just as you see with many other aspects of golf, there are multiple variables.
As with all statistics, there are various ways to measure and present them. This results in a range of answers. There is no perfect answer but the examples will give you a good idea.
As we said, the handicap statistics are available on the USGA site and that will give you accurate data. In terms of scoring, there are a number of studies. One was an analysis done by mygolfspy a few years ago.
They took data from TheGrint site as well as the app. The sample was from 15,000 USGA compliant golfers that had submitted 5 or more scores to the site. This means that only players with an official handicap were measured.
They found that an impressive 86% of players break 100. Obviously, the real figure, if all players were included, would be a lot lower.
This gives you an idea of golfers that take the game relatively seriously and play enough to have an official handicap.
The results also found that 49% of their sample broke 90 regularly and 10% broke 80 regularly. This should be encouraging if you are just starting out. Breaking 100 is a good first goal to set and hopefully, you will be aiming at 90 before too long.
Another interesting insight that came from this study was that there were not a huge amount of birdies or better. As we pointed out above, the greatest gains came from avoiding the double bogeys or worse.
In another report dated a few years before the above, golfbloggers based their findings on the National Golf Foundation data. According to their statistics, 55% of golfers break 100. Here is the breakdown according to their study:
- Under 80 – 5%
- 80-89 – 21%
- 90-99 – 29%
- 100-109 – 24%
- 110-119 – 10%
- 120+ – 11%
It is important to understand that the results of whatever statistics you look at assume that the rules have been followed. Many casual golfers are fairly relaxed with some aspects of the game and scoring and this will skew the results somewhat.
If you adhered to the rules and laws strictly it is possible that the number of golfers breaking 100 would be a bit lower.
While we expect all golfers to be honest, the system is not perfect and there are a few inaccuracies in any system. Sometimes it is due to intention while some occasions comes down to ignorance.
The stats do at least give you some indication of where the average golfers sit.
What do the professionals average?
Current PGA statistics show that the top professionals consistently average less than 70 while many are marginally above this number. While most golfers will not reach these low scores it shows you what can be done.
Remember that it becomes harder to shave off a stroke or two the lower your average becomes.
What it all comes down to is a personal challenge. It is in your interests to measure yourself accurately in order to know when you have reached that goal.
However you measure the averages, what is encouraging is to know that many people are breaking a 100 and even 90.
These are realistic goals for most dedicated golfers. Keep setting targets and goals and measure your progress. The more you practice and play the more your game will improve.
Nick Lomas is the founder of GolfSpan, an avid golfer, not quite a pro but has over 15-years of experience playing and coaching golfers from all over the world. His mission is to bring the golfing community a better experience then it comes to choosing the right golf gear, and finding the right set up for your game.