If you are more or less seriously playing golf, then you’re most likely interested in how your performance stacks up against your peers.
Many amateur golfers appear to particularly wonder what percentage of golfers break 100. 90-100 is generally considered an average golf score, so I’m not at all surprised that people are interested in this stat.
Although this question is fairly simple, finding answers for it is challenging. Still, I will do my best to provide you with precise numbers below!
So What Is The Percentage Of Golfers Who Break 100?
To hopefully find out what percentage of golfers break 100, we are going to have a look at two sources:
- A study by MyGolfSpy.
- USGA handicaps.
Let’s have a look at them without further ado.
First up, we have a 2014 report from MyGolfSpy. This report was based on data from 15,000 golfers from the TheGrint app and website.
An important thing to pinpoint here is that the sample included only golfers that:
- Are part of a golf club that is compliant with the USGA (United States Golf Association).
- Have uploaded 5 or more scores to TheGrint.
Why do these two points matter? Because we could expect that those 15,000 golfers are more experienced players. With this in mind, I think it is safe to say that this data does not generalize well to the entire golf population. It will actually show higher percentages.
MyGolfSpy points out an interesting stat that reinforces my idea – the highest percentage of golfers that track their scores is found in the 11-15 handicap group. In contrast, only a small percentage of players with handicaps over 20 track their scores.
Anyway, the data gathered by MyGolfSpy is as follows:
It turns out that a whopping 86% of golfers break 100! Aside from that:
- 14% of golfers do not break 100.
- 49% of golfers break 90 regularly.
- 10% of golfers break 80 regularly.
Here, remember the point I made earlier – this data appears to apply to more seasoned golf players. What this means is that the actual percentage across all golf players (including amateurs) is most likely much, much lower.
How much lower? I’m afraid there is no precise answer to this question. Unless we get access to more comprehensive datasets, we most likely will never find out how many golfers actually break 100.
However, there is also some older data from 2010 from GolfBlogger that claims that only 55% of adult golfers break 100. The score percentages brought by GolfBlogger are as follows:
|Average score||% of adult golfers|
|Less than 80||5|
These numbers have been sourced by GolfBlogger from the NGF (National Golf Foundation), so we are likely again seeing the scores of savvier golfers.
With that said, why is there such a huge difference between NGF and TheGrint? Well, there could be several reasons:
- Golfers may have become better over the 4 years that separate the two reports. Between 2010 and 2014, the handicap among men and women has dipped (though it did increase in the following years).
- There could be differences in how data was preprocessed before the calculations. MyGolfSpy removed scores with abnormal handicap differentials, for example, and I don’t know if NGF had done the same.
- Perhaps the skill level of the golfers analyzed by the NGF was lower.
- Possibly, golfers who have plugged their scores into TheGrint app haven’t been strictly following game rules and scoring procedures, making their performance seem better.
I hope that you can see how difficult estimating the actual percentage of golfers that break 100 is. In fact, I’d even say that it is impossible unless we gain access to datasets that incorporate not only USGA-registered but also amateur golfers.
With that said, I think that we can fairly safely assume that most people do break 100. If you are more or less serious about golf, then you shouldn’t have to struggle a lot to reach that 100 mark.
What about USGA handicap data?
We could also use USGA handicaps to calculate how many golfers are breaking 100. However, there are a few issues with handicaps as it pertains to scores:
- USGA handicaps are again most likely representative of more skilled golfers.
- Although handicaps are based on golf scores, they are adjusted for the course difficulty. This means that we cannot directly calculate golf scores based on handicaps.
To demonstrate the second point, let’s have a look at this chart from a 2016 study by MyGolfSpy:
This chart clearly shows that you cannot directly translate handicaps into scores. For example, golfers with a handicap of 6-10 aren’t averaging 6-10 strokes over par. In reality, the average score is much higher than you might have thought based on just the handicap.
With that being said, the lower the handicap, the lower the difference between par and average scores is. This most likely just shows that more skilled golfers are more consistent on the course.
Now, based on the chart above, we could assume that anyone with a handicap of 21-25 will score below 100 on average. If we have a look at the USGA handicap chart, 21-25 corresponds to:
- 84.26% – 90.77% of male golfers.
- 27.11% – 37.85% of female golfers.
The male stats are close to what we’ve seen with the 2014 MyGolfSpy report. As for women, MyGolfSpy appears to have averaged the data for men and women, so we can’t directly apply MyGolfSpy’s handicaps to female USGA handicaps.
Additionally, remember that handicaps for male and female golfers have slight differences in calculation because each golf course has different course and slope ratings for men and women.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you have a look at the “Scores by Handicap Bracket” chart from earlier, then you’ll notice that the average score for all handicaps is 90.8. But keep in mind that this data only contains golfers who are members of USGA-compliant golf clubs.
With that, I’d say that 90-100 is a great score for an amateur golfer. And needless to say, the lower you go, the better.
Over 100 is a good score for a beginning golfer. If you’ve been playing for months and can’t break 100-110 though, then there may be something wrong with your form.
This depends on a bunch of factors:
- The best 10 differentials of your 20 last scores.
- The course rating.
- The course’s slope rating.
For calculations, you may use an online handicap calculator – the calculation of a handicap is quite an involved process, so you shouldn’t do it manually.
The 18th Hole
So what percentage of golfers break 100?
Well, based on the data we’ve had a look at, anywhere from 55% to 86%. The range of numbers is quite huge, but this appears to be the best we have.
As I mentioned a few times throughout the post, remember that these numbers apply to more savvy golfers. In reality, probably fewer people break 100 and way more people stay above 100.
Does this all matter though? Well:
- If you just play for fun, then it may not matter for you.
- If you are a competitive amateur, then becoming better at the game is not a bad thing.
- If you are playing professionally, then you should obviously score as low as you can.
But all in all, I don’t think that amateur golfers should worry much about their performance.