Scratch Vs 18 Handicap - How The Stats Compare

Data from Arccos Golf shows how and where scratch players make up a shot per hole on 18-handicappers

Scratch golfer vs 18 handicapper pictured hitting a shot
(Image credit: Future)

We know the stats behind a scratch golfer, with zero digit players hitting 10 out of 18 greens, making a total of 2.2 birdies a round and 5.2 putts per round. But how does that compare to an 18-handicapper and which are the main areas where the biggest differences occur?

The stats in this article come courtesy of Arccos Golf, with data gleaned from more than 540 million shots from 11.5 million rounds worldwide using its Smart Sensors.

The first and most obvious area of difference between scratch and 18-handicap players comes with scoring, with scratch players averaging 2.2 birdies per round, 10.5 pars, 4.6 bogeys and just 0.7 doubles or worse, compared to 18-handicappers averaging just 0.4 birdies, 4 pars, 8.9 bogeys and 5.7 doubles or worse.

Scratch players play par-3s in 3.1 shots, par-4s in 4.2 shots and par-5s in 4.7, with 18-handicappers 0.8 shots higher on par-3s, 1.1 shots higher on par-4s and 1.3 shots higher on par-5s, illustrating that the longer the hole is, the more strokes a scratch golfer gains compared to an 18-handicapper.

The strokes are gained throughout the round of golf across all aspects of the game, whether it's putting, chipping, approaches and driving. A scratch player hits 56% of greens for example, with an 18-handicapper finding just 23%. Scratch players get up-and-down from inside 25 yards 57% of the time compared to 26% for an 18-handicapper.

The scratch golfer is also unsurprisingly significantly better off the tee, too, with an average distance of 259 yards, finding 51% of fairways versus 217 yards for an 18-handicapper, who finds 42% of fairways.

SCRATCH HANDICAP VS 18 HANDICAP - THE STATS

AVERAGE PUTTS PER ROUND

Scratch

  • 1 putts: 5.2
  • 2 putts: 11.5
  • 3 putts+: 1.3

18-handicap

  • 1 putts: 3.1
  • 2 putts: 11.1
  • 3 putts+: 3.7

AROUND THE GREEN

Scratch

  • Average distance to pin 0-25 yards: 12ft
  • Up-and-down 0-25 yards: 57%
  • Average distance to pin 25-50 yards: 20ft
  • Up-and-down 25-50 yards: 35%

18-handicap

  • Average distance to pin 0-25 yards: 20ft
  • Up-and-down 0-25 yards: 26%
  • Average distance to pin 25-50 yards: 29ft
  • Up-and-down 25-50 yards: 12%

SAND

Scratch

  • Average distance to pin 0-25 yards: 17ft
  • Up-and-down 0-25 yards: 39%
  • Average distance to pin 25-50 yards: 24ft
  • Up-and-down 25-50 yards: 27%

18-handicap

  • Average distance to pin 0-25 yards: 27ft
  • Up-and-down 0-25 yards: 15%
  • Average distance to pin 25-50 yards: 35ft
  • Up-and-down 25-50 yards: 9%

APPROACH

Scratch

  • Greens in regulation: 56% (10/18)
  • GIR approaches: 26ft
  • All approaches: 44ft

18-handicap

  • Greens in regulation: 23% (4/18)
  • GIR approaches: 35ft
  • All approaches: 81ft

OFF THE TEE

Scratch

  • Distance off the tee: 259 yards
  • Driving accuracy: 51%

18-handicap

  • Distance off the tee: 217 yards
  • Driving accuracy: 42%

SCORING

Scratch

  • Par 3: 3.1
  • Par 4: 4.2
  • Par 5: 4.7

18-handicap

  • Par 3: 3.9
  • Par 4: 5.3
  • Par 5: 6

Scratch

  • Birdies: 2.2
  • Par: 10.5
  • Bogeys: 4.6
  • Doubles+: 0.7

18-handicap

  • Birdies: 0.4
  • Par: 4
  • Bogeys: 8.9
  • Doubles+: 5.7
Elliott Heath
Elliott Heath

Elliott Heath is our Senior Staff Writer and has been with Golf Monthly since early 2016. He graduated in Sports Journalism in 2016 and currently manages the Golf Monthly news, courses and travel sections as well as our large Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. Elliott has interviewed some huge names in the golf world including Sergio Garcia, Thomas Bjorn, Bernd Wiesberger and Scotty Cameron as well as a number of professionals on the DP World and PGA Tours. He has also covered the 2022 Masters from Augusta National as well as three Open Championships including at Carnoustie in 2018 when he was inside the ropes with Tiger Woods. He has played 31 of our Top 100 golf courses, with his favourites being both Sunningdales, Woodhall Spa, Old Head and Alwoodley. He currently plays at West Byfleet Golf Club in Surrey, where his handicap index floats anywhere between 4-6. His golfing highlight is making albatross on the 9th hole on the Hotchkin Course at Woodhall Spa, and he has made one hole-in-one.


Elliott is currently playing:


Driver: Honma TR20

3 wood: TaylorMade SIM2 Max

2 iron: Mizuno MP-18 MMC Fli-Hi

Irons: Mizuno MP5 4-PW

Wedges: Cleveland RTX ZipCore 50, 54, 58

Putter: Odyssey White Hot OG #5

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x