Ok, if someone asks you , I bet most of you can tell your friends how many birdies you had in your last round, and how many Pars, how many lost balls and probably how many putts you took. And some of you may already be tracking your greens in regulation (GIR) and fairways in regulation (FIR), and Up-and-Downs or Sandies. Great. Many of us use those to help us gauge our round and how well we played. As we approach the 2014 season, I would suggest that, while it may seem inconvenient to do so, there are other statistics you should track in each round.
Now tracking stats isn't that hard, if you do a little preparation first. Open up Excel or Word or whatever word processing tool you have, or use one of many of the online custom scorecard printing sites (such as http://www.forescoregolfstats.com/, or http://www.mylooptracker.com/ just to name a couple) and take a custom scorecard with you to the golf course. This will make it easier for you to record your stats. Usually though, I just use the unused lines on a course scorecard and label columns for the stats I want to track. But use whatever is easiest for you. You can also consider getting the Golfers Logbook from Amazon.com. It's pretty cheap and gives you a convenient place to record your statistics until you're ready to analyze them.
Now, on to the statistics you should be tracking.
1) , Putts...but only Putts Per Green in Regulation (PPGR). Only PPGR provides a real measure to how well you putt. Simply looking at putts per round doesn't factor in those time you miss the green and chip close, sealing up a 1 putt. Those time make your Putts Per Round (PPR) artificially lower than they should be. Tracking PPGR will show you a truer measure of your putting skills because now, 1 putts will generally be when you are making birdies, and more times than not, us amateurs aren't making too many of those a round.
2) Also track where you miss the fairway to. Left? Right? See if there is a pattern or even a pattern on particular holes, say Par 5s. Do you tend to miss right or left? This will help you identify an area to work on at the range.
3) What is your % of GIR when you miss the fairway? How often are you able to recover from an errant drive and still record a GIR? So combining statistics can give you even more insight into your game.
4) Approximately how far does you approach shot land from the pin? This is a good measure of how well your ball striking is. The closer you are to the pin, the easier your putting becomes. I realize this will just be an estimate most of the time but even that is better than nothing.
5) Speaking of the last stat, using that in combination with your putting statistics is a great idea too. Understanding how many of your first putts you make from 12 ft, or 16ft, or how many times you 3 putt from 16ft would be very valuable. Maybe you have a tendency to leave those first putts short? Knowing those things
6) When you chip or pitch from around the green, how far does the ball stop from the pin? This will help you measure your short game ability. Depending on your skill level, you may be looking to stop the ball within a 3 foot circle around the flag. For others, a 6 foot circle may be the target. Either way, track it.
Now just tracking stats won't immediately improve your game. And, keep in mind you need to get enough shots in for each category before you really have meaningful data. It's impossible to make any reliable prediction with just stats from 1 round of golf. But if you start tracking at the beginning of the season, by mid-season you should have enough data to really start to see trends. It would also be helpful to record the playing conditions for each round, as you're probably more likely to mess up some chips if you're playing in wet conditions. Then use the results to help tailor your range sessions. While you would want to work on all aspects of your golf game while at the range, this analysis may identify specific areas that need more work. Maybe you 3 putt too often and need to work on your lag putting. Or maybe your first chips leave you well out from the pin and you need to work on your short game options when around the green.
Anyway, taking time to look at your game will ultimately make you better prepared for your next round. Good luck.