What Is Greens In Regulation In Golf? 4 Strategies To Increase Your GIR

Like many other sports, golf is increasingly fixated on statistics. A visit to the PGA Tour website offers users access to over 100 statistical metrics to assess each of the Tour’s players.

Looking up your favorite tour players’ stats can be a lot of fun or severely demoralizing. It’s essential to focus on the stats that matter for your game specifically. 

Certainly, improving every aspect of your game will contribute to a lower score. However, giving equal weight to every available statistic can be tricky.

Instead, hobbyists and beginner golfers should concentrate on a select few statistics to enhance their performance. Arguably, one of the most crucial among them is greens in regulation.

In this article, we will cover;

  • Understanding What Greens In Regulation Golf Means 
  • Greens In Regulation for High Handicappers
  • Greens In Regulation Goals Based on Handicaps 
  • 4 Strategies To Increase Greens In Regulation 

Keep reading to discover why this stat is so important and how you can start hitting more greens in regulation!

what is greens in regulation? GIR explained

Understanding Greens in Regulation Meaning (GIR)

The term “greens in regulation” in golf signifies when a player successfully lands their golf ball on the putting surface of a hole using two strokes less than the hole’s designated par on the scorecard.

Par represents the expected number of strokes for a scratch player to complete a specific hole, loosely associated with its length but considering other factors.

For instance, on a par four hole, a player has two shots to reach the putting surface, followed by two putts to sink the ball into the hole.

Now that we have established the definition of par, we can calculate the green in regulation for each par rating. This involves subtracting the two putts assumed for any player to complete the hole once they reach the putting surface.

  • Par 3: A player should hit the green with their tee shot.
  • Par 4: The player needs to reach the green with their second shot.
  • Par 5: The player needs to reach the green with their third shot. 
golf course with view over the green

For the green in regulation statistic to apply, the ball must remain on the putting surface; it cannot be in the fringe or greenside rough. This statistic places a premium on precise ball striking and accuracy.

Should a golfer hit the green of a par 4 hole in a single shot or a par 5 hole in just two shots, they are deemed to be on the green in fewer strokes than regulation dictates.

Tracking Greens in Regulation (GIR) and Its Impact on Your Golf Game for High Handicappers

For golfers with higher handicaps, achieving a Green in Regulation (GIR) is a significant accomplishment. As your golf skills progress, you will likely notice an improvement in your GIR percentage over time. You can monitor these statistics using various methods. 

The simplest approach is to record each GIR on your scorecard and then tally them after each round. Alternatively, many golfers prefer to utilize a golf stat tracking application, accessible either on their mobile device or via a golf watch.

Hitting a green in regulation increases your likelihood of securing a birdie, and if you go under regulation, the chance of making an eagle becomes even more promising.

golf green and flag

Determining Your Greens in Regulation Goals: Handicap-Based Expectations

Ideally, hitting all 18 greens in regulation would result in a perfect 100% greens in regulation (GIR) percentage. However, this is quite rare, and even top-tier PGA Tour golfers seldom accomplish it.

The PGA Tour average hovers around 65%, equating to approximately 12 greens hit in an 18-hole round of golf.

During the 2021-2022 season, Scottie Scheffler boasted the highest GIR percentage at 72.29%, while Lucas Herbert had the lowest at 57.82%. 

Notably, Tiger Woods, often regarded as the greatest of all time, set an extraordinary record with a remarkable 75.15% GIR in 2000, when the tour began tracking this statistic.

annotated image depicting a GIR and a non GIR based on the golf ball lie

Considering that PGA Tour professionals typically miss the green at least six times per round, what should amateur golfers aim for in terms of greens in regulation? Here are approximate expectations based on your handicap:

HandicapApproximate PercentageGreens In Regulation
24+10%0 to 2 greens per round
18 to 2416%1 to 3 greens per round
10 to 1827%2 to 5 greens per round
5 to 939%4 to 7 greens per round
1 to 450%6 to 9 greens per round
0 to +261%8 to 11 greens per round

4 Strategies To Increase Your Greens In Regulation

Improving your golf game undeniably hinges on successfully reaching the green in as few shots as possible.

When you reach the green two shots under par, you’ll find yourself with excellent opportunities for birdie putts, significantly increasing your chances of making par.

golfer on course with iron club

#1: Mastering Distance Control

Distance control, often overlooked but incredibly important, plays a substantial role in improving your likelihood of hitting more greens.

When you have a clear understanding of how far you can hit each club, it simplifies the process of choosing the right club, increasing the likelihood of landing your tee shot or approach shot at pin-high distances.

Even if your aim is slightly off, precise distance control often ensures that you still find yourself on the green, securing another Greens in Regulation (GIR) opportunity.

#2: Enhancing Your Tee Shot for Improved Approach Shots

The farther your tee shot travels, the shorter your subsequent approach shots become.

PGA Tour statistics clearly demonstrate that proximity to the green significantly increases your chances of hitting more greens in regulation.

We all aspire to gain distance off the tee, but not at the expense of accuracy.

Hence, it’s crucial to refine your swing with the guidance of skilled coaches to ensure that other aspects of your game remain unaffected.

golfer and putter

#3: Avoid Neglecting Your Putting Game

Neglecting your putting skills can quickly sabotage your chances of achieving a green in regulation, especially if you end up three-putting for a bogey

Eliminating three-putts is closely tied to improving your GIR statistics. The positive aspect is that you don’t have to be an exceptional putter. 

Making wise decisions with your first putt and concentrating on bringing it within tap-in range is far more manageable than attempting to sink 12-foot putts for par after missing the green.

#4: Staying In the Fairway Matters

In general, keeping your tee shots in the fairway allows you to reach greens in regulation.

If you constantly find yourself in fairway bunkers or thick rough, your ability to execute successful approaches to the green diminishes.

While length off the tee is valuable, prioritize driving accuracy and aim to find more fairways if your goal is to increase your greens hit and ultimately lower your scores.

golf course on a sunny day

How to Monitor Greens in Regulation (GIR)

Keeping tabs on your Greens in Regulation (GIR) can be insightful when assessing a player’s precision and consistency during approach shots. Here are several methods for tracking GIR:

Traditional Approach

To record your Greens in Regulation (GIR), use one of the blank rows on your scorecard. Whenever you successfully hit the green in regulation for a hole, place a checkmark in the corresponding box. 

If you miss the green in regulation, mark it with an “X” instead. After completing your round, tally up the checkmarks to determine your GIR count.

Digital Applications

Numerous online apps are available to golfers for monitoring their greens in regulation statistics. When selecting an app to track your GIR, take into account factors like user-friendliness, accuracy, and compatibility with your device.

golf fairway and green


Does The Fringe Count As The Green For Greens In Regulation (Gir) In Golf?

Tour statistics typically do not consider the fringe as a green hit. Even if you’re using a putter from the fringe, it would still count as a missed green according to tour standards.

How Many Greens In Regulation Should I Aim To Hit?

The number of GIRs you should target varies based on your handicap. It’s worth noting that even proficient golfers with low handicaps typically hit 10-12 greens per round. Golfers with handicaps between 10 and 18 typically hit 5 to 7 greens, while players with handicaps above 18 typically manage 3 to 4 greens or fewer.

How Do You Calculate Greens In Regulation (GIR)?

To calculate your GIR, tally the number of greens you hit in the appropriate number of shots and then divide this by 18, finally multiplying by 100 to obtain your percentage.

golf lady on the course getting ready to take a shot

What Was Tiger Woods’ Average Greens In Regulation (GIR)?

Tiger Woods showcased his best GIR performance with 75.2% during the 1999-2000 season. Even in his prime, his percentage occasionally dropped as low as 67%. In recent campaigns, he has maintained an average below 60%.

What Constitutes Greens In Regulation In Golf?

Greens in Regulation (GIR) in golf means successfully getting the ball from tee to green in one, two, or three shots, depending on whether the hole is a par three, par four, or par five, respectively.

What Is Greens In Regulation In Golf? 4 Strategies To Increase Your GIR 1

Final Thoughts: The Importance of Greens in Regulation

Increasing your greens in regulation stat can be a strategy for beginner golfers to improve their scores, but it shouldn’t be the sole statistic you prioritize. 

Simply hitting the green doesn’t guarantee success; if your putting skills are lacking, you might end up with a higher score than if you strategically place the ball closer to the hole, even if it’s on the fringe.

To improve your overall performance, work on reducing your putting average and increasing your accuracy in hitting fairways to find yourself on the green in regulation much more often.

Next Up: What Is Scrambling In Golf? A Complete Guide

Photo of author
After graduating from the Professional Golf Management program in Palm Springs, CA, I moved back to Toronto, Canada, turned pro and became a Class 'A' member of the PGA of Canada. I then began working at some of the city's most prominent country clubs. While this was exciting, it wasn't as fulfilling as teaching, and I made the change from a pro shop professional to a teaching professional. Within two years, I was the Lead Teaching Professional at one of Toronto's busiest golf instruction facilities. Since then, I've stepped back from the stress of running a successful golf academy to focus on helping golfers in a different way. Knowledge is key so improving a players golf IQ is crucial when choosing things like the right equipment or how to cure a slice. As a writer I can help a wide range of people while still having a little time to golf myself!

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.