What Is a Scratch Golfer? Meaning, Tips & Statistics

golfer practising to become scratch golfer

Scratch golfer is a term given to a golf player who shoots at or better than the par. A scratch golfer happens to be a pro in golf. In generic terms, you can refer to a scratch golfer as a golfer with zero handicap or with a score below zero.

In case the golfer fails to have a handicap, then you can claim other golfers as scratch players whose average scores remain better or at par.

There are some pro golfers who might shorten this term altogether and mention it only as “scratch.”

                                                  

What Does Scratch Golfer Mean

When you are dealing with the term “scratch golfer”, you’re basically aiming towards handicap rating in USGA and even focusing on slope rating. Whatever rating the course is, a scratch golfer will have a zero handicap.

Male scratch golfers can usually strike tee shots of 250 yards and reach a 460 yard hole just by using a couple of shots.

Similarly, female scratch players are capable of striking shots on average of around 208 yards and can reach a 400 yard hole within just two shots.

Scratch Golfer Handicaps

In general terms, a handicap is associated with scratch golf. It’s defined as a number presented to the trained player to indicate his or her skill on course. It’s often stated as strokes played over par on a round of 18 holes.

Here’s an example that might help you understand the term better. If the golfer has a 0 handicap, then the player with 12 or 19 handicaps can shoot 12 or 19 over par on average.

The Purpose of Handicaps

Handicaps will not just serve as a measure of a player’s progress, but can work with scramble tournaments as well. You can see such tournaments in corporate outings or as part of charity events. Here, the golfers will play on a plane or flat surface.

At the end of a game where the final score is calculated, the golfers will then deduct handicap scores.
 

Slope and course rating:

In the case of a handicap game, rating and course slope will prove to have two significant characteristics. As a general rule, the course rating is a number for a course indicating the difficulty associated with it.

What Does a Scratch Golfer Shoot

Recent studies have indicated that scratch golfers might shoot a course rating at 30 to 40%. When it comes to the championship level, it will hike up to 75 to 79%, at a rough rate.

When it comes to scratch golfers participating in legit tournaments or mini-tours, they are said to shoot around +5 or 8 on a medium scale.

  • If you’re talking about a scratch player known to play at a consistent rate, then that golfer can play from 6700 to 7200 yards.

  • There are times when the scratch or pro golfer might fall short by 30 yards. If you get to correlate this stage with that of the average distance of 175 yards, then the scratch golfer gets the chance to play shots from 205 yards.

  • This form of the game is where the scratch golfers need to add 2.52 strokes over any round.

 

How Many Scratch Golfers are there in the World

The internet shows different numbers when it comes to scratch golfers present in the world. It is really tough to come to a single point with flexible numbers.

It’s stated that most of players will never reach the level of a scratch golfer. As per USGA, there are fewer than 2% of scratch golfers in the world. This mean 2% of players have a handicap of zero or lower.

This is because this level is very challenging to achieve and it takes a lot of time to accomplish this goal.

 

How to Become a Scratch Golfer

Whenever a golfer is given the crown of a scratch golfer, it means that the person is a golfer with zero handicap. If you are playing scratch golf, you are actually playing on one neutral ground.

Trying to become a pro level golfer is what many people dream of, but is of course very hard to reach to that level.

There are specific points that people have to consider when aiming to become a scratch golfer. Learning about those points beforehand will help you know what a scratch golfer generally looks like.

 

What a Scratch Golfer Looks Like

There is a big misunderstanding in what scratch golfers look like. These people have gained the name because they can be quite steady with the games they are playing.

Being a human, chances are high that not all games will go in their way, and they might end up playing bad swings sometimes.

The only difference is that they play with grit and resilience and will not be panic-stricken because of one game. They know how to perform better and make up in the upcoming sessions.

  • According to the stats, a scratch golfer has very impressive statistics. They are 67% in greens in regulations, 53% in fairway hit, 1.67 putts per hole, 54% scrambling, 59% sand saves and covering an average driving distance of 251 yards.

  • The scratch golfer’s game is focusing towards ball striking so there is no need to focus on long distance shots. In case a golfer misses a shot, most of the time you will see them playing up and down for the par.

 

Skills are a Must

If you need to be a scratch golfer, you have to be very skilled in all areas of golf. However, that will not help you move the needle unless you have trust in your own abilities.

There is a chance of you being a pro golfer, but when the time comes you might end up making some crucial mistakes. This is one common error that most of the scratch golfers make.

  • The difference between others and scratch golfers is that they know they can recover from the mistakes already made. You will hardly come across a scratch golfer making the same mistake twice. These golfers know how to mingle their management skills with that of physical talent and mental strength, to say the least.

  • You will hardly find any scratch golfer panicking after hitting a bad shot. They do have confidence in their game and know they can get the score back in the next round. They take the game as it comes and tend to go with the flow.

 

Ways to Reach a Scratch Golfer Skill Level

If you are wondering how to be at that level, then it is really hard to find an answer. Being a pro golfer is not enough. The key way to become a scratch level is to stay composed and not let pressure ruin your performance.

Never sacrifice your patience as you will need it big time while playing golf. It’s a game full of internal and external pressures all which you’ll need to overcome. Only hard work and practise can ever help you achieve this top tier level of player.

  • Remember that there is no other way apart from practising. While playing a round, the chances are high that you will make mistakes, but you will learn from it as well. By staying positive you can reach great heights and learn from the choices you have made. No golfer becomes a pro overnight. It takes years of crafting your skills and adapting to all situations on a course.

  • According to the statistics from USGA, less than 2% golfers will become scratch golfers.

 

Prerequisites You Should Follow

You will need to follow a few prerequisites if you ever hope to become a scratch golfer.

  • Playing well and practising non-stop will assist you in becoming a pro player in golf. But, these stages should have their limitations as well. Playing too much golf or practising more than what your body can take can ultimately lead to your downfall.

    For creating that balance between practise and playing, you need incorporate studying too. Try to see how other pro players are playing before and study their every move.

  • There is no way around other than practising and playing quite a lot. Playing golf on a daily basis and dedicating minimum 4 to 5 hours can help you come closer to the “scratch” level.

  • You need to focus on ball striking. It’s your duty to keep the ball in play every time, and for that, your striking rate matters a lot.

  • Negativity and temper should never be part of the game. You have to remain positive all the way and keep emotions at bay.

  • Being a scratch golfer means there is no room to take unwanted risks. Only smart club selections can help to manage the game right from the start till the end. These golfers will create those targets which they feel will be easier for them to fulfill and won’t create any unrealistic gaming plans.

  • Stay composed and think strategically. Sometimes hitting the ball shorter than you’re capable of is the better choice.

 

How Long Does it Take to Become a Scratch Golfer

It is actually tough to pinpoint a time or number of years that you need to dedicate to becoming a scratch golfer. The result is equivalent to your skills along with the number of hours you have dedicated to practice and study.

Some people with good grip over this game might take ten years to be a successful scratch golfer, while many others will take longer.

  • According to some research and answers from forums, it can easily be stated that golfers have to dedicate around 10 to 12 years of their lives before they can hold the position of a scratch golfer. Even for that, they need to train for 5 to 6 hours daily, if not more, without missing any season.

  • Being a scratch golfer might seem easy, but it is far from being easy. Scratch golfers are pros. It’s only through their hard work and dedicated practicing sessions that they are able to hold on to this elite title.

  • Some people might take extra training to be a scratch golfer faster, but it might not always work for you. I actually do recommend you pay for a few golfing lessons and tell the instructor your goal of reaching a zero handicap.

 

How to Get to a Scratch Handicap

The primary question hitting you hard is how to get to the scratch handicap. Even if you are a great player, trying to become a scratch golfer requires a lot more. There are some stages which you should follow, in order to get to a scratch handicap.

 

Mindset to Become a Scratch Golfer

Mindset is the first key to becoming a scratch golfer; long drives and risky shots have no place here.

  • For the first stage, you need to think deeply about conquering every hole. Your results will quickly improve only if you start thinking strategically. Every hole counts and you need a different strategy for each one.

  • When putting for birdie you have to aim to hole that putt. On the other hand, when playing off the green, then a simple tap is all that’s needed.


  • For the next 20 minutes or so, you have to try focusing on every one of yours shots and make it flawless. Knowing the correct situation when to sink a ball and when to just get close to the flag is important here.

 

Focus on the Big Picture

Not only do you have to think in strategic terms in how to hole the ball, but also your misses. It’s just as important to think of the reason why you missed a shot, as it is to enjoy your successful strokes.

 Being a pro means you have to create customized statistics as well. For every round, you need a separate analytics report. This will give you the chance to analyze your game and then reflect on the changes to improve your performance later.

 

Practise Tips to Become a Scratch Golfer

It’s believed that you have to put in minimum of 2-3 hours of practise per day to become a scratch golfer. Not only that, but you need to play 18 holes on a weekly basis to get better in your game.

This certainly won’t happen quickly. You will keep improving your score on a monthly basis and a keep a record of your results.

  • There are three sectors in the game of golf you have to focus on. The long game, short game and putting. You have to master all three sectors and divide your time between these gaming sessions. I always make a note of understanding the fundamentals of the long game before starting my practise round.

  • Each round of golf comes with its own unique set of challenges. You need to sit down and understand the problems you face first. Create a strategic plan for each hole and create a spreadsheet to record your results each time you play a course.

  • Try to focus on skill games for a change. Here, you need to focus on gaining the highest score. The focus here is not quite leaning towards the techniques but towards outcomes.

    On the other hand, try to keep track of the scores you have already made in your previous games. It will help you track your progress report.

  • Just like any other player, you might have some weaknesses as well. Try to focus on those weak spots first and improvise on techniques to score high.

    The chances are high that experts are working hard to develop their skills and you can do the same. As a result, there will be less misses and more hits with every game you play.

 

Conclusion

Some golfers have this misconception that changing their game plan will help them be a pro, which is not really true.

Learning the basics associated with posture and grip, as well as practising to become flawless will help you get the best results.

If you have learned the basics well, there is no looking back from there. The rest demands on the practise. If you do not trust your own instincts, then you can hire a coach to help you learn the basics.

It is mandatory that you keep these points in mind when you are trying to be a scratch golfer. Going through the discussed points will only clarify that being a pro in golf only deals with professional practise and understanding the skill sets.

If you want to hold that position on your own, then it helps to follow 1 or 3 experts that have currently reached scratch level. Following their own techniques, skill sets to make progress on your journey to becoming part of golf’s best player pool.

Understanding your true score is crucial to becoming a scratch golfer. I recommend reading my other article: net vs gross score

Ernie

Ernie loves documenting interesting facts about golf.

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