What Is a Green in Regulation (GIR)?

Definition of the Golf Term and Statistical Category

Jordan Spieth lines up a putt after hitting the green in two. Greens in regulation are also called GIR or greenies. Todd Warshaw/Getty Images

A "green in regulation," often abbreviated GIR, is a statistical category on the professional golf tours, as well as a popular method for amateurs and recreational players to rate their rounds.

A golfer earns a GIR by getting his ball onto the putting green:

  • in one stroke on a par-3 hole;
  • in two (or fewer) strokes on a par-4;
  • or in three (or fewer) strokes on a par-5.

Par-6 holes are rare, but getting your ball on the green in four or fewer strokes on a par-6 also counts as a green-in-regulation.

Why That Many Strokes for a GIR?

To achieve a green in regulation, your golf ball must be on the putting surface in the expected number of strokes in relation to par. And the par number for a hole always includes two putts. On a par-4 hole, for example, that par of 4 is made up of a drive, an approach shot into the green, a putt to the hole, and a putt into the hole. So to achieve a GIR:

  • Subtract two putting strokes from a par-3 hole and that means you have to be on the green on your first shot to claim a green in regulation;
  • Subtract two putting strokes from a par-4 and you have to be on the green by your second shot for a GIR;
  • And subtract two putting strokes from a par-5 hole and you have to be on the green by your third shot for a GIR.

Greens In Regulation and Recreational Golfers

To claim a green in regulation, your ball must be on the putting surface. Being 1-inch off the green, in the fringe, but still able to putt the ball does not count. The ball must be on the putting surface. Or, as the PGA Tour defines it, "if any portion of the ball is touching the putting surface after the GIR stroke" - the first stroke on a par-3, second on a par-4 or third on a par-5 - then it counts as a green in regulation.

For high-handicappers, achieving a GIR is a scarce treat. A golfer's GIR percentage, in general, should increase as the golfer's game improves. That's why many golfers, of all skill levels, like to track their greens-in-regulation stats over time. You can do this on your scorecard.

Also note that "greenie" is a slang term for a green in regulation, and "Greenies" is the name of a side bet often played among groups of golfers who enjoy wagering. A golfer in the group wins a "greenie" (and whatever that is worth) by making a GIR.

Greens in Regulation on the Pro Golf Tours

The PGA Tour, European Tour, LPGA Tour, and most other professional golf tours track GIR as a statistical category. The tours rank golfers based on GIR percentage - hitting 18 out of 18 greens is a 100-percent GIR rating.

You can view the current leaders here:

How many greens are hit by the pro golfers during a round of golf? A lot more than most of us hit! Since the PGA Tour began officially keeping the GIR stat in 1980, the lowest GIR to lead the tour is 70.34-percent by Justin Rose in 2012; and the highest is 75.15-percent by Tiger Woods in 2000. Even the worst golfer on the PGA Tour at hitting greens typically has around a 60-percent GIR percentage over the course of a year.

The highest greens-in-regulation percentages recorded on the major tours for one season are:

  • PGA Tour: 75.15-percent, Tiger Woods, 2000
  • European Tour: 80.8-percent, Justin Rose, 2012
  • LPGA Tour: 79.7-percent, Annika Sorenstam in 2001 and 2002

(PGA Tour record since 1980, European Tour since 1998, LPGA Tour since 1992.)

Since the tour began tracking GIR, no golfer on the PGA Tour has hit all 72 greens in regulation in a four-round tournament, but two have come close. Peter Jacobsen at the 1995 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and Jerry Kelly at the 1996 Walt Disney World/Oldsmobile Classic each hit 69 of 72 greens, the tour record.