Scratch vs 10 vs 20 Handicap - How The Stats Compare

How do the stats compare between scratch, 10 and 20 handicap golfers? Find out...

A golfer hits a tee shot from behind with a statistical table overlayed
(Image credit: Future)

How do the stats compare between golfers that regularly shoot in the low 70s (scratch players) to those who shoot in the low 80s (10 indexes) and those in the low 90s (20 handicappers)?

In this piece we take a look at the stats and numbers on how the different abilities compare and contrast in all areas of the game - and there's some really interesting findings. The numbers are from Arccos Golf, with data gleaned from more than 750 million shots around the world.

We'll start with the vital scoring data and then work from the tee all the way up to the green to see how each of these different abilities of golfers fare.

Obviously scratch players shoot lower scores, make more birdies and fewer bogeys, but just what do those numbers actually look like?

Scratch golfers who use Arccos to track their stats make on average 2.2 birdies per round, which is a whopping 1.5 more than 10 handicappers and a huge 1.9 more than 20 handicappers.

Zero index golfers make an average of 4.6 bogeys per round, which is 3.1 fewer than 10 handicappers and almost half the number that 20 handicappers make, who bogey half the holes they play on average.

There's even bigger differences when it comes to doubles or worse, with scratch golfers making just 0.7 per round, compared to 2.9 for 10 handicappers and 6.6 for 20 handicaps.

Want to shoot lower scores? Avoid doubles!

Table showing birdies, pars, bogeys and doubles+ made by different levels of golfer

(Image credit: Future)

But how do scratch golfers shoot those lower numbers? Let's take a look at the data from drives, approaches, short game and putting.

Driving isn't always considered the most important part of the game but hitting it long and straight definitely helps, as these numbers show.

Scratch players average 259 yards off the tee with 51% of fairways found, while 20 handicappers are 46 yards shorter on average and hit 10% fewer fairways. The 10 handicap numbers are in the middle of those, as you'd expect, with a 233 yard average and 46% of fairways found.

Table showing driving distance and accuracy of different handicap abilities

(Image credit: Future)

Scratch golfers' ability to hit longer, straighter drives then translates into more greens in regulation, closer approaches and therefore more birdies.

The average scratch golfer hits 56% of greens in regulation, which equates to 10 per round. That number drops down to 36% for 10 handicappers, around 6.5, and even further to 20% for 20 handicappers, which equals 3.6 greens in reg per round on average.

That means scratch golfers hit more than six greens per round on average versus 20 handicappers.

Table showing how different handicaps fare with greens in regulation and approach numbers

(Image credit: Future)

And on the eight occasions when scratch golfers miss the green in regulation in each round, they can rely on sharp short games to get them up-and-down to save pars.

From within 25 yards, on grass, scratch players get it up-and-down a very impressive 57% of the time, compared to 37% for 10 handicappers and just 23% for 20 handicappers.

From bunker shots inside 25 yards, scratch golfers make sand saves 39% of the time compared to just 21% for 10 handicappers and 13% for 20 handicaps. That means a scratch player is three times more likely to get it up-and-down from a greenside bunker than a 20 index golfer.

Scratch players are also more likely to get it up-and-down from a 25-50 yard bunker shot than 20 handicappers are on chips within 25 yards!

Table showing short game numbers for scratch, 10 and 20 handicappers

(Image credit: Future)

When it comes to the greens, this is where the scratch player really excels. As important as every aspect of the game is, it's the putting green where the birdies are made and the pars are saved.

Most scratch golfers will also devote more of their practice to short game and putting than just beating balls on the driving range - one of the biggest golf practice mistakes made by higher handicappers.

Thanks to the practice, and skills, scratch players rarely three-putt. They three-putt just 1.3 times per round to be precise, which is half the amount that 20 handicappers have - 2.6.

Over an average 18-hole round, scratch players have just 30.7 putts compared to 33.5 for 10 handicappers and 36.2 for 20 handicappers. That means that scratch players save 5.5 shots every single round on the greens compared to the average 20 handicapper.

Play off of 20 and want to shoot lower scores? Work on your putting!

Table showing putting statistics for scratch, 10 and 20 handicap golfers

(Image credit: Future)

Hopefully this data has been helpful to illustrate just where the differences lie between these three different abilities of golfer.

If you want more stats, take a look at our PGA Tour pro vs scratch, scratch vs 18 handicapper and how to break 80 stats articles, or if you want to improve your game head to our golf tips section for expert instruction and drills to help you shoot lower scores.

Elliott Heath
News Editor

Elliott Heath is our News Editor and has been with Golf Monthly since early 2016 after graduating with a degree in Sports Journalism. He manages the Golf Monthly news team as well as our large Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. He covered the 2022 Masters from Augusta National as well as five Open Championships on-site including the 150th at St Andrews. His first Open was in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, when he walked inside the ropes with Jordan Spieth during the Texan's memorable Claret Jug triumph. He has played 35 of our Top 100 golf courses, with his favourites being both Sunningdales, Woodhall Spa, Western Gailes, Old Head and Turnberry. He has been obsessed with the sport since the age of 8 and currently plays off of a six handicap. His golfing highlights are making albatross on the 9th hole on the Hotchkin Course at Woodhall Spa, shooting an under-par round, playing in the Aramco Team Series on the Ladies European Tour and making his one and only hole-in-one at the age of 15 - a long time ago now!

Elliott is currently playing:

Driver: Titleist TSR4

3 wood: Titleist TSi2

Hybrids: Titleist 816 H1

Irons: Mizuno MP5 5-PW

Wedges: Cleveland RTX ZipCore 50, 54, 58

Putter: Odyssey White Hot OG #5

Ball: Srixon Z Star XV