If you’ve ever played golf or watched it on TV, you’ve probably heard that in order to salvage a hole’s score, a player must “go up-and-down.” But do you know what does up and down mean in golf?
That’s a strange term that’s only used in golf, and it needs to be explained.
What does up and down mean in golf
Up and downs are defined as the percentage of times a player misses the green and has to take one shot to get the ball onto the green and another stroke to make the putt.
When your golf ball is sitting around the green or in a greenside bunker, the term “up and down” refers to the act of using only two strokes to get it into the hole. If you can do it, you’ve completed a “up and down.”
Consider this scenario: you’ve hit your tee shot and your approach to the green, but your approach shot falls just short of the putting surface. You can still make par if you do an up-and-down, though. The first stroke should be used to get the ball onto the green, and the second strokes should be used to get the ball down into the cup. An up-and-down is equal to two strokes from off the green to the hole.
“Up and down” can technically refer to any two strokes that result in the ball going into the hole. However, in common parlance, “up and down” refers almost entirely to shots from just off the green and from greenside bunkers, scenarios in which holeing out with only two strokes is the most likely outcome.
This is distinct from scrambling, which is defined as the percentage of times a player misses the green in regulation but still makes par or better. Because an up and down does not need the player to make par or better, it is a stat that catches more successful events.
Up and downs, on the other hand, are notoriously difficult to agree on, as many players have different ideas about what constitutes an up and down. For example, on the PGA Tour, only scrambling is measured, not ups and downs. Players frequently argue about where a ‘long short game shot’ stops and a ‘up and down shot’ begins, making it impossible to compare up and down percentages between players.
What does getting up and down mean in golf
Getting up-and-down in golf is using two strokes, including a putt, to get the ball in the hole from off the green.
Getting the ball onto the green from off the green is the up element of up-and-down. The ball is usually near the green, and the shot is usually made as a pitch or chip. However, this isn’t a requirement. In a literal sense, an up-and-up down’s shot can be hit from anywhere on the course.
Putting the ball into the hole with one putt is the down component of an up-and-down.
Although some people consider it an up-and-down if a player’s second shot of the up-and-down is struck with a putter but not from the putting surface, the down component is not to be another shot from off the green.
An up-and-down does not have to be done to achieve a specific score. For par, bogey, birdie, eagle, or any other score, a player can get up-and-down.
Making an up-and-down is a terrific way to finish a hole in golf since it signifies a player used the fewest amount of strokes possible. Making a large number of up-and-downs throughout a round is typically a sign that a player is trying to save face by relying on their ability to perform well under pressure.
How golfers use the term up and down
When talking about up-and-downs, golfers use a variety of phrases. “I need to get this up and down to make my par,” a golfer, for example, would say. Or “I made my putt to get up and down,” for example.
A fellow competitor may congratulate you with a “Hey, good up-and-down.”
On television golf broadcasts, broadcasters would say things such, “He made an up and down on the last hole” or “If she gets this up and down, she’ll save par.”
It’s important to note that you don’t have to “save par” to get an up-and-down. You’ve made an up-and-down if you’re near the green and get the ball up onto the green and then down into the hole in two strokes, regardless of your hole score.
Up and Down Stats
During rounds of golf, many golfers like to keep track of their up-and-down opportunities and success/failure rates. You can accomplish this with a lot of golf stat tracking systems or apps.
Alternatively, you may just put “Up and Down” on a blank line on the scorecard. Then, for each hole where an up-and-down is possible, make a note of whether you succeeded or not.
Simple stat tracking can help you improve by recognizing your game’s strengths and weaknesses, indicating which aspects of your game require the most attention during practice.
The professional golf circuits provide statistics on the world’s greatest players that illustrate how good they are at getting up and down, either indirectly or for specific scenarios.
For example, on the PGA Tour, there are two stat categories for up-and-downs: sand save percentage and scrambling.
“the proportion of time a player was able to get ‘up and down’ once in a greenside sand bunker (independent of score),” according to the tour. So, albeit only from greenside bunkers, that’s a direct measure of up-and-down success.
The scrambling statistic is defined by the PGA Tour as “the percent of times a player misses the green in regulation but still makes par or better,” which is an indirect means of determining how good a golfer is at up-and-downs.
Recommendations to Improve Your Up-and-Down Success
Do you want to increase your success rate on up-and-down opportunities? Then practice chipping, pitching, bump-and-runs, putting from the fringe, bunker shots, and other short strokes around the green. It also helps if you can sink a couple of putts! But getting that first up-and-down shot closer to the hole is crucial.
YouTube is a terrific resource for finding golf instructional videos on a variety of topics. Two films that closely pertain to up-and-downs are “The Basics of Great Chip Shots” and “When to Putt, Chip, or Putt from Off the Green” (hint: chipping over pitching when everything else is equal). More short game videos can be found by searching YouTube for up-and-down.
They do convey a story, but just part of it, as do many of the ‘conventional’ golf numbers. They’re great as additional variables since they help narrow down what’s going on, but only with the support of other data points.
I’d suggest looking into Strokes Gained Around the Green, and if feasible, Strokes Gained from various distances and lies, to narrow down exactly what’s going on with the shot you hit around the green. The Strokes Gained factors isolate shots hit from around the green on their own, without being influenced or affected by other variables.
I hope that after reading my article you will be able to tell what does up and down mean in golf and is it important for you.