Every golfer has the ability to make a birdie, whether that be from a stunning iron shot, a holed chip or a long putt. But how many do golfers make in each round?
Thanks to data from Arccos Golf we can see these fascinating numbers, with data gleaned from more than 540 million shots from 11.5 million rounds worldwide.
Many golfers may overestimate how many birdies they make on average, with single figure handicappers perhaps estimating they make two per round and 18-handicappers thinking they might average one per round, but how accurate are those assumptions?
Golfers who average two birdies per round are in fact 1-handicappers, with 7-index players averaging one birdie per round. That means everyone with a handicap of 8-or-lower averages fewer than one birdie per round.
The elite +4 handicappers average a total of 3.4 birdies per round, with that number decreasing by 0.3 all the way until scratch – a huge gap that illustrates how the better golfer makes more birdies in their rounds.
As you go down the handicaps, the birdie average decreases in much smaller increments, meaning that scores are made by way of avoiding double bogeys and blobs as opposed to simply making more birdies.
For example, 11-handicappers make just 0.1 more birdies on average than 15-handicappers, but 11-handicaps have just 3.2 doubles or worse compared to 4.5 for the 15-index players.
While there’s a 0.3 gap in birdies made between +4 and +3 handicappers, there’s the same 0.3 gap between 10-handicappers and golfers with a 19-index. The difference in double bogeys or worse made between +3 and +4 players is just 0.1 (0.2 vs 0.3), while the difference in doubles or worse between 10s and 19s is a whopping 3.2 (2.9 vs 6.1).
If you’re a scratch-or-better player, the data shows you likely need to make more birdies to shoot lower scores, whereas if you’re a single figure or mid-handicap player and want to shoot lower scores, work on avoiding doubles or worse.
What about tour pros? In the 2022 PGA Tour season, Cam Smith led the birdie average with 4.6 per round – on some of the world’s toughest courses – with the usual leading tour number somewhere between 4-5 birdies per round.
How many birdies do golfers make per round?
- +4: 3.4
- +3: 3.1
- +2: 2.8
- +1: 2.5
- 0: 2.2
- 1: 2.0
- 2: 1.8
- 3: 1.6
- 4: 1.4
- 5: 1.2
- 6: 1.1
- 7: 1.0
- 8: 0.9
- 9: 0.8
- 10: 0.7
- 11: 0.6
For more fascinating statistical looks at how golfers score, check out our articles on scratch handicap stats, scratch vs 18-handicappers and the stats on how to break 80.