Most golfers have the goal of getting better and eventually becoming a scratch golfer.
But what is a scratch golfer, how can you become one, and what separates them from your ordinary golfers?
In this blog post, we’ll cover everything you need to know about scratch golfers so you can understand and get on the right track!
Here's What We'll Cover
What exactly is a scratch golfer?
A scratch golfer is someone who averages a score of zero strokes on the golf course or has a zero handicap. This means that over the span of an entire round, they’re expected to shoot par or close to it.
Scratch golfers are what we aspire to be when we play, but it’s also what many amateur players strive for as well.
The term “scratch golfer” was coined because when you write your score next to your name on a scorecard, you use what looks like an X (or what some people call a “scratch”) to signify that you’re not counting any of your strokes during that round.
What makes somebody a scratch golfer?
As the USGA officially states in rule 14370, a scratch golfer is “a player who can play to a Course Handicap of zero on any rated golf courses. A male scratch golfer, for rating purposes, can hit tee shots an average of 250 yards and can reach a 470-yard hole in two shots at sea level. A female scratch golfer, for rating purposes, can hit tee shots an average of 210 yards and can reach a 400-yard hole in two shots at sea level.”
And as the R&A states, a scratch golfer is “a player with a Handicap Index of 0.0.”
To qualify as a scratch golfer, you should be able to play to a course handicap of zero on any rated golf course, more often than not.
No golfer, not even the best professional golfers, can score par or better every time.
Average statistics for a scratch golfer
On average, here are the statistics it takes to become a scratch golfer:
- Hit 67% Greens-In-Regulation (GIR)
- Hit 53% of Fairways off the tee
- Average 1.67 putts per hole
- Scrambling to get up and down 54% of the time
- Sand saves 59% of the time
- Drive the ball about 251 yards
How long does it take to become a scratch golfer?
Like anything, to become a great golfer, it takes a lot of time and practice to improve and be the best you possibly can be.
Generally speaking, it takes about 10,000 hours to become an expert at anything.
So if you’re looking to become a scratch golfer and aren’t naturally skilled or talented, that’s about how long it would take for you.
While it may seem like a lot of hours, because it is, you’ll see drastic improvements by consistently playing and practicing to the best of your abilities!
What percentage of players are scratch golfers?
Let me preface this by saying not every golfer is looking to become a scratch golfer or has the time to do so.
From a single-digit handicap to a scratch golfer takes time, dedication, and practice. Most golfers will not reach that peak unless they make significant investments of time, effort, and practice.
Taking a look at the official handicap statistics, only 1.85% of male golfers and 0.69% of women golfers are scratch golfers or better.
What’s the difference between a scratch golfer and a professional?
A professional golfer will typically shoot 5 or 6 shots better on the same course and conditions than a scratch golfer.
Generally speaking, professional golfers outperform scratch golfers in the following categories:
- Greens in Regulation: A scratch golfer will hit 67% of GIR while a professional golfer will hit 70.33% of GIR.
- Fairways Hit: A scratch golfer will hit 53% of fairways while a professional golfer will hit 66.4% of fairways.
- Putts Per Hole: A scratch golfer needs 1.67 putts on each hole while a professional golfer only needs 1.57 putts on each hole.
- Scrambling up and down: Professionals can scramble up and down 63% of the time while scratch golfers can only do it 54% of the time.
- Sand saves: Professionals save out of the sand at 58.73% while scratch golfers get up and down out of the sand 59% of the time.
- Average driving distance: Professional golfers average 305.7 yards off the tee while scratch golfers average 251 yards. This difference can add up to 2.5 shots per round to a scratch golfers score, which is about half of the difference.
Becoming a scratch golfer is a massive accomplishment that takes a lot of commitment to learning, practicing, and loving the game.
While it may be a goal of yours, don’t be discouraged if you aren’t there yet and focus on improving and progressing your game instead.
If you continue to practice effectively and play often, you’ll keep getting closer and closer until you’re officially a scratch golfer!
And if that’s not a goal of yours, being a high-handicap golfer who enjoys the game and exercise it brings is completely okay!