Golf Skills Tests that Help Me Reach Scratch Golf

It’s a new golf season and I’m excited to share my journey on my YouTube Channel of improving my golf game and lowering my scores back to scratch golf.

In this blog post I’ll detail how I setup my golf practices to help me focus on drills, routines, and processes that lower my golf score quicker. Having a practice plan is key to your success if you want to get better at golf.

Before I build myself a practice plan to follow, I always start off with testing.

The Analysis Stages

Each golf season I like to start off with some initial tests and go through a quick analysis to see where my golf game is at. This helps me define weaknesses and strengths so I can plan my practices around them to develop my skills deeper.

Give yourself a week to conduct various tests:

  • Monday – find club distances
  • Tuesday – 9 holes of golf
  • Wednesday – 9 holes of golf
  • Thursday – 9 holes of golf
  • Saturday – 18 holes of golf
  • Sunday – chipping & putting tests on practice green

What Are My Golf Club Distances?

The first test I will run is analyzing my current club distances. I want to know how far I can hit a golf ball with each of my golf clubs so I can make smarter decisions on the golf course when facing different yardages.

It also allows me to see if I’m lacking distance and have room for improvement, whether it be swing speed, or accuracy related with ball striking (face contact).

To test my golf club distances, I found space at the driving range and used the PRGR swing monitor to track each golf shot for each club. It stores the data so I can document it later in my spreadsheet and calculate my average distances for each club.

Here are my current golf club distances after testing:

  • Driver – 283 yards
  • 3 wood – 250 yards
  • 2 iron – 233yards
  • 4 iron – 218 yards
  • 5 iron – 205 yards
  • 6 iron – 189 yards
  • 7 iron – 175 yards
  • 8 iron – 162 yards
  • 9 iron – 151 yards
  • PW – 136 yards
  • GW – 122 yards
  • 54W – 108 yards
  • 58W – 80 yards

One area I fixed from my analysis was removing a 5 wood that I never use and installing a 54 degree wedge back into my golf bag to help cover a distance gap I was facing between my gap wedge and 58 degree wedge.

I face far more shots in the 80-125 yard range so it made sense to focus more on getting wedges dialed in instead of having so many long clubs (4 iron, 2 iron, 5 wood, 3 wood).

What is my Driver Swing Speed?

After hitting indoors during winter months on a Uneekor golf simulator, I got a pretty good feel for my swing speed with it ranging between 109 – 114 mph.

This data was further validated in the spring when I was finding club distances at the driving range using my PRGR swing monitor. This device shows swing speed as well as ball speed in addition to the carry distance and total distance numbers I was looking at for club distances.

When it came to swinging my driver, the swing analysis monitor confirmed what the Uneekor data was telling me as it showed my swing speed to also be around 111-113 mph consistently.

Now depending on how well I strike the ball on the club face (accuracy), it then determines the ball speed generated and affects total distance.

For most of my drives so far, I’m averaging in the 280’s. Occasionally, I’ll have a 300 yard drive and sometimes I’ll have the 260 yard and 270 yard drive out on the golf course as well.

As I work towards achieving scratch golf again, I’d like to see ball speed increase to gain me extra distance and this will require increasing swing speed while also improving my contact on the clubface and doing so consistently.

How Am I Scoring for 9 Holes & 18 Holes?

After some driving range tests, I like to go play a few rounds of golf for 1-2 days to see where my game stands currently scoring wise.

I’ll play a few 9 hole rounds of golf if I don’t have much time each day and then I’ll try to get a full 18 holes in as well. After I have about 36 holes of data to go off of, this gives me an idea of where I stand and what tendencies I’m seeing.

For the 2024 season, my first 18 hole score was 84 (40,44) after battling cold and wind. Upon playing on warmer sunny days I had 9 hole scores of 40, 41, and 39.

I feel pretty confident I’m around an 80 right now which places me at a 7 or 8 handicap to start golf season in April after months of winter and not playing outdoors.

Practice Green Testing – Putting & Chipping

For this stage of analysis, I want to see how well my short game can hold up to different skills tests and give me a reference point to compare to in the future so I can see I’ve improved statistically.

Putting Skills Test

For this test, I’ll start by picking a hole on the practice green to mark off 3 foot putts, going around the hole in a circle until I’ve marked 5 locations.

Next, I’ll putt 5 balls at each of these 5 markers so that by the time I’ve made my way around the hole in a circle, I’ll have attempted 25 putts total from 3 feet. For the first test, I made 23/25 putts so I’ll multiple by 4 to get my percentage which is 92% from 3 feet. Not bad.

I’ll setup this same test 3 more times from 5 feet, 7 feet, and 9 feet but at different holes on the practice green. This way it refreshes each test and I’m not playing the same putt and break getting to know it well.

  • 5 feet – I made 21/25 (84%)
  • 7 feet – I made 15/25 (60%)
  • 9 feet – I made 8 / 25 (32%)

Stage 2 of putting tests involve lag putts, which are long distance putts that I try to get within 3 feet or less of the hole.

I’ll mark off a 20ft, 30ft, 40ft, and 50ft putt and hit 25 putts from each. I’ll record how many balls finish within a 3 foot radius circle I make around the hole using ball markers or tees.

Here are my results from this lag putt test:

  • 20 Feet – 22/25 (88%) within 3 feet or less
  • 30 Feet – 16/25 (64%) within 3 feet or less
  • 40 Feet – 13/25 (52%) within 3 feet or less
  • 50 Feet – 10/25 (40%) within 3 feet or less

This helps explain why you tend to 3-putt when you face longer putts on the green and shows the importance of trying to hit your approach shots closer to the flag as well as chip shots to cut down 3 putting chances.

If I can stay 25 feet or less from the hole, I have pretty good odds of two-putting and avoid wasting strokes putting on the greens. 3 putting is a quick way to increase your golf score and if you have several 3 putts per round, then there’s room for improvement.

Low handicap golfers still tend to average 1 or 2 of the dreaded three putts per 18 holes played. But higher handicaps tend to average 5-8 three putts per 18 holes. That’s a lot of strokes you can reduce from your golf score!

Chipping Skills Test

Chipping is all about getting the ball within 2-3 feet of the hole so you leave yourself a short putt to finish. Getting up & down around the green (also known as scrambling) is a skill that must be developed to a high level if you want to really lower your golf scores.

For chipping, I like to test my ability by setting up a chip shot to 3 different holes, one close by, one that’s mid distance away, and one that is far away.

I’ll chip 25 balls to each hole and determine my percentage of chips that finished inside of a 3-foot radius circle around the hole using ball markers to build the circle zone.


  • Short Hole – 20/25 (80%)
  • Medium Hole – 14/25 (56%)
  • Far Hole – 10/25 (40%)

Pitching (10 yards away from green)

I also like to step off the green 10 yards by taking 10 big strides (1 stride = 1 yard).

Then I’ll pitch 11 balls onto the green to a chosen hole near the middle of the practice green and determine the average proximity to the hole.

To measure the distance each ball remains from the hole, I’ll use my shoe (1 foot) or my putter (3 foot) as rough estimate measuring devices.

For this test, I found my average pitch shot to a middle hole (center of the green) from 10 yards off the green in the rough was approximately 7 feet.

This means anytime I miss a green by 10 yards, I can expect my skill level to be able to pitch it within 10 feet of the hole and give myself a chance to still make a par by sinking the putt. More often than not I’ll likely face a 7-foot putt according to this test.

How to Practice Golf Using these Skills Tests

Now that I’ve completed my early season tests to assess my skills currently, I can use the results to tailor different practice plans and drills to improve my putting, chipping, pitching, etc.

I’ll start a fitness routine in the gym to hopefully improve flexibility, power, and thus improve my golf swing speed. This can add to my club distances and overall driver distance on the golf course.

I’ll design putting practices that work on both my short range putting inside 10 feet as well as longer lag putts from 20-50 feet.

I can build chipping drills to work on hitting more chips inside 3 feet from various scenarios so I can consistently give myself short par saving putts and use my short game as a crutch to achieve low golf scores in times when my swing is missing greens in regulation on my approach shots.

Overall, if you found this blog article helpful, please follow more of my journey by subscribing to my YouTube channel and checking out our current programs for students:

Be great today

Nick Foy Golf

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