How Good Do I Need To Be ?

Aspiring players naturally want to know how good they need to be to compete at a certain level. This often applies to entries for the biggest events, but also relates to selection for teams at various levels too.

For example, how good do I need to be to play for the County Under 18 Team or the County 1st Team, or how good do I need to be to play for England. And for the most advanced players, how good do I need to be to play on the European Tour?

An analysis of County and Duchess Salver results over the last few years, together with tournament scoring at the elite level in 2015, goes a long way to answering many of these questions.
Who's This?

Practicing as a young County Junior player
In addition to our own Duchess Salver events and County match results, we looked at twenty three other elite level tournaments that were played in the UK during 2015, and allocated each of them to one of seven categories:-
  • Duchess Salver
  • International Boys (U18) Amateur
  • National Men’s Amateur
  • International Men’s Amateur
  • European Tour Qualifying Stage 1
  • European Challenge Tour
  • European Tour

In each of the events, we then looked at the average score to CSS per round of the players who made the cut (if applicable), those who finished in 10th place, and finally, those who finished 1st. As there is no CSS in the pro events, we used the SSS for those instead.

In common with the approach that we use for our own County Stroke Averages, using the Average Score to CSS (or SSS) helps negate the scoring differences that arise due to the relative difficulty of the courses being played. It provides an excellent measure for comparing scoring across different events on different courses.

So what did we find?

Two key things. Firstly, when the standard scratch is taken into account, scoring across events that are in the same category is remarkably consistent. Secondly, there is a very obvious progression in measurable scoring terms as players move up the ladder.

 Category  Made Cut  10th Place  1st Place
Duchess Salver 4.33 1.61 -2.95
International Boys (U18) Amateur 1.25 -0.54 -3.85
National Mens Amateur 0.83 -1.08 -3.46
Interational Mens Amateur -0.47 -2.90 -5.25
European Tour Qualifying - Stage 1 N/A -3.52 -5.25
European Challenge Tour -3.50 -5.50 -7.08
European Tour -4.25 -6.88 -9.00

# Data for Duchess Salver taken from an average over from 2013-2015. All other data based on results in 2015 only.

How does that help us?

Well, hopefully it should provide concrete information on which people can judge how much they need to improve to play at the level they aspire to.

For example, if you’re currently competing at the top end of the County Men’s game (Duchess Salver) and dream of playing in the Walker Cup (International Men’s Amateur), then you need to find a way of improving by approximately three or four shots a round…..every round.

And if you’re capable of competing well at the very top of the amateur game, being able to finish in the top 10 of International Men’s Amateur events, then another couple of shots saved per round should see you being able to make cuts on the European Tour.

Whilst these examples relate to the very top of the Men’s game, then as you would expect, a similar pattern emerges when looking at the development of players through the junior ranks. The Average to CSS that would almost certainly see a player prosper at each of our respective age group levels is shown below.

These two ‘staircase’ diagrams provide a complete pathway from the very beginning of competitive golf to the top of the professional game (just click either of the images if you'd like a printable pdf).

At the top of the game especially, don’t ever under estimate how tough it will be to progress. As an example of that, take a look at the final standings in the England Golf Order of Merit for 2009.

Chris Wood

Winner of the 2013 Qatar Masters
The table includes 217 players who managed to perform well enough to register a placing. Relating those players to our event categories above, a high percentage would have been playing regularly at either National Men’s Amateur or International Men’s Amateur level.

Five years later, at the end of 2014, only 4 of those 217 players finished in the top 150 on the European Tour Order of Merit.

It’s an enormously competitive environment, and requires a very special level of commitment over a long period of time to get to the top; the stats suggest that staying there is just as hard too.
It can be done however. Our own Chris Wood is living proof of that. Whatever your level, always remember though that it’s a staircase, not an escalator. Effort is required to move up to the next level.

Where are your next two shots coming from?
Print Print | Sitemap
A GolfBUFF Website