10+ handicap to scratch

 robdalky ·  
robdalkyrobdalky Members  198WRX Points: 85Posts: 198 Fairways
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I am interested to hear from anyone who has (after college age) successfully gone from a 10+ handicap to scratch. The vast majority of scratch players I know (100%?) got there by college at the latest.

If anyone here claims to be that unicorn that has made that midlife journey from 10+ to 0.0 or better - how'd you do it?

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  • BiggErnBiggErn Members  2786WRX Points: 711Posts: 2,786 Titanium Tees
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    From 10+ to scratch is a monumental drop off.

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  • rgk5rgk5 rgk5(OLB) Members  3807WRX Points: 405Handicap: 6Posts: 3,807 Titanium Tees
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    It took me seven years, 1967-72. Stayed between zero and two for about 20 years. Now? Abysmal by comparison. :'(

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    On -, @Schnee
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  • Exactice808Exactice808 Just want to hit ball far and go find it... Members  4841WRX Points: 429Handicap: 7-27Posts: 4,841 Titanium Tees
    Joined:  edited Jun 12, 2019 #9

    Not a scratch, no where near..... but deep down aspiring (the want).... that being said lowest I reached was 7 GHIN. then had kids.... game over..... kids getting a little older to be self sufficient and watch kids youtube and kids netflix so I can run to the range for an hour on a more common basis.

    My humble take...
    There are 2 generalized people that can reach scatch per say
    1) Naturally gifted and talented with exceptional hand eye coordination
    2) Motivated people that are willing to put what ever time and effort it takes to get there. (that have the time to do so)

    There is NO difference per say in ability per above, but the fact remains that one will reach scratch likey fast than the other purely basing, that scratch is their goal.

    I am the latter of the 2 that has mediocre Hand eye coordination, But with enough practice and effort it can be done. We all know the major drops from say; (Generically)
    100's to 90, that is just improving overall contact/ball striking.
    90-80's is finding the gift of short game and putting.
    80-70 is when you have the complete game, The biggest thing here is putting it all together.
    my opinion, Hitting scratch, is playing intelligent golf with a complete game.

    I know I am stuck at the 14 range right now because I refuse to take par or even bogey and always taking risk for the birdie. WHICH the turn out is NOT a favorable percentage. BUT if I chose to play intelligently... the overall average would decrease.
    Next is just building consistency.... FACT Scratch is 18 pars, NO matter how you get there... 4 bogeys, 4 birdies.... even par. The issue at hand is you cannot give up strokes unless you can get birdies as well. It has to be complete...... I know for me, averaging a double or triple a round kills an potential when I average 1 birdie per round..... knowing this is understanding the flaw.....for me..... 2 personal Flaws,.

    1) Lack of consistency.... (Either not enough practice to engrave consistency, or just physical lapse breakdown)
    2) Un-intelligent golf. Foot on the pedal is not optimal golf.....

    Anyway my useless rant... but hopefully just some food for thought, evaluating literally why you cant shoot even par.....and the make up to cover the lapse in judgement if its good enough.... can we average more birdies than loss shots thats the reality.... If I cant make more birdies than bogeys and doubles...and the dreaded triple well. Its back to the drawing board to exclusively work on it and fix it....
    No real magic behind it... but realistic goals and effort....

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  • pearsonifiedpearsonified Extreme enthusiast Members  1823WRX Points: 123Handicap: 2.3Posts: 1,823 Platinum Tees
    Joined:  edited Jun 12, 2019 #10

    I played 500 rounds (and about 100 tournament rounds) in 5 years, and I got to 0.3.

    Playing as much as you can with better players is a huge advantage.

    But at the end of the day, you just gotta want it.

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  • bogeyprobogeypro The Original Bogeypro ALClubWRX  3491WRX Points: 400Handicap: +1Posts: 3,491 ClubWRX
    Joined:  edited Jun 12, 2019 #11

    On -, @robdalky said:

    I am interested to hear from anyone who has (after college age) successfully gone from a 10+ handicap to scratch. The vast majority of scratch players I know (100%?) got there by college at the latest.

    If anyone here claims to be that unicorn that has made that midlife journey from 10+ to 0.0 or better - how'd you do it?

    I didn't start playing until I was probably 20. Been at scratch or better most of my adult life now. I practice often and play alot of 9 hole rounds. I play 18 for tournaments or money games.
    Its all about practicing with a purpose. don't just beat balls. have a goal.... i don't hit over about 80 balls in a practice session. can't practice short game enough... wedge game is an insurance policy and putting is the icing on the cake. Practice putting with consistent speed and the reads will come with experience.

    1 way to go lower is game management. be real with your ability and play to your strengths. Avoid big numbers and take advantage of the easy shots.

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  • Aviador NavalAviador Naval equus mortuus non caedis Members  1220WRX Points: 216Handicap: 3Posts: 1,220 Platinum Tees
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    A laser range finder, humility, discipline, and some basic course management can turn a 10 into a 5 overnight. Much of the remainder will be eliminating penalty/jail off the tee and improving short game.

    Regarding short game, there are diminishing returns on proximity to hole for routine chips/pitches. There are no diminishing returns for reaching the point that a six foot putt feels like a gimme.

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  • longballjslongballjs New JerseyMembers  1516WRX Points: 149Handicap: 2.4Posts: 1,516 Platinum Tees
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    My father, now 66, started golf at 30, read everything he could, Harvey Penick books, Hogan books,Nicklaus books, peelz books, Floyd books, etc. he practiced a lot. Got himself down to a low handicap of 3, won a club championship, shot par a few times. His main focus was short game. He could hit a driver 240, had a less than impressive long game, but got up and down from everywhere. Every chip was to within a few feet. Never missed putts. People love me for scrambles because I can hit it a decent amount, people loved him cuz he made every putt he looked at and he was as good from inside 60 yards as anyone I’ve known. Not saying neglect the long game, but put more into short game.

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  • elthrillelthrill Members  201WRX Points: 92Posts: 201 Fairways
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    i'm getting pretty close and I was about a 18 handicap....... need to get the rounds logged this summer.
    i dont think there is any secret, but if you want to do it later in life you need better fundamentals than the kids. If you learn a bad motor pattern as a kid, you can get so good with the timing of it that it just works for you. You cant really do that as a person who picks the game up later. the swing mechanics have to be simple and solid. Once you get the right swing mechanics, you will feel so much freedom through the bag, because each club is just a repeat of your swing that is so ingrained. It feels so simple. I know most amateurs never get to that point and the driver, short irons, long irons, and wedges all feel just a little different to them and it just seems hard to ever have a swing that repeats. some specific things that helped me:
    1.) swing the club every **** day. even if just 15 minutes in the backyard. grip, setup, alignment, takeaway. repeat x1000
    2.) pitch and chip until you are **** confident you can get the ball inside 10 feet on any ball inside 50 yards. get a little mat for your backyard. You just have to get up and down all the time if you are going to be a scratch player and you don't hit it 300+. its just a fact of life for a golfer who cant hit wedge into every par 4.
    3.) yes, you have to putt well, but I'm a huge believer that putting is way over complicated and misunderstood. Putting is 100% feel and eye. EVERY HUMAN ON THE PLANET WITH 2 EYES AND ANY EXPERIENCE IN TOSSING A BALL CAN PUTT EXTREMELY WELL IF YOU WILL FREE YOUR **** MIND AND STOP BEING SO MECHANICAL. FEEL the path to the target. SEE the path and speed the ball takes to get there. ROLL the ball to match that path and speed. Its really the easiest part of the game. So you miss some 5 footers, ok...go make a few 20 footers. Take the pressure off yourself and have fun rolling the ball to the hole. they will go in I promise you. (the only mechanical thing that I believe is critical is taking your hands and arms out of the stroke. The shoulders control the putting stroke. hands are just a connection to the club.) And guess what, once you get the right mindset, putting practice isnt more than 30 minutes a week. it requires very little maintenance. I know guys that love to knock in 4 footers 1000 times a week like Phil, but i think thats a silly waste of time. youll never get the same put on the golf course. spend the time on your approach shots and driving, way more strokes there than with 4 footers.
    4.) and this is the biggest thing and should be #1. you just have to be fascinated with the game. the swing and getting better consume most of my free thoughts. its crazy. but if you have the intense fascination with feeling that beautiful squash of the ball against the clubface, you'll improve. you will just find a way to practice and grind to improve. Doesnt matter where you live or how much money you have or how fancy your clubs are. This is a game of mental fascination which is why its the greatest game in the world.

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  • bazinkybazinky Members  1714WRX Points: 198Posts: 1,714 Platinum Tees
    Joined:  edited Jun 12, 2019 #15

    On -, @robdalky said:

    I am interested to hear from anyone who has (after college age) successfully gone from a 10+ handicap to scratch. The vast majority of scratch players I know (100%?) got there by college at the latest.

    If anyone here claims to be that unicorn that has made that midlife journey from 10+ to 0.0 or better - how'd you do it?

    The reason that it's so rare is that most of the guys guys of who pick up the game later and have the talent to make it to to scratch don't have the final piece of the puzzle, which is sufficient time to play and practice. I picked up the game after college, and at my peak got down to about a 2. I was never able to play and practice more than 2-3 times per week except for a few brief periods due to the need to work (and now with being a husband and father, I have even less time). I'm confident I could have got down to scratch if I had been able to play more frequently.

    Time is the number one factor. Every single golfer that I know who has been scratch or better has had at least one long, sustained period (6 + months) where they were able to play and prctice at least 4-5 times per week.

    To quote an old club pro I knew, " There are two types of golfers that get to scratch. Those that played and practiced a lot, and those that lied about it."

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  • Rory4PresRory4Pres Members  1337WRX Points: 373Handicap: 1Posts: 1,337 Platinum Tees
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    I was around a 4-5 handicap and got down to scratch by stopping by the putting green on the way home from work. Once a week or so I'd chip a little. I'd play about twice a week, no range time. Just putting a lot really made a huge difference in my game. So if you were a 10+ handicap, I'd say you'd need to get some lessons, work on the range, chipping and putting on a very regular basis. Also make sure you are using the right equipment for your game.
    To get good at golf, you have to invest the time. Also, lastly, don't let your brain tell you what you "can't do". (aka, when you stand over a birdie putt, don't mentally think "oh man, this is for birdie, don't screw this up" but rather focus on the task at hand (the line and speed needed to make it).

    Good luck.

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  • TB07TB07 Members  6110WRX Points: 148Posts: 6,110 Titanium Tees
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    I did around that time frame. It was just after high school when I took up golf seriously and was near scratch 4-5 years after. How it was done was by constantly working on technique . Mostly swing.

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  • TheCityGameTheCityGame Traj like Minaj Members  16441WRX Points: 3,573Handicap: 2ishPosts: 16,441 Titanium Tees
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    I'm like a 2 right now (next adjustment is going to be 1.6 maybe). Anyway. . .
    1) I played when I was a kid, but I never got good. I was a 15 maybe.
    2) I played 4/5 times a year between the ages of 18 and 40, and then at 40, I started getting serious.
    3) I got back to about a 15 pretty quickly.
    4) Since then, just grinding. No secret to it. Hard work on all aspects of game. Pushing through the frustrating times (there are slumps at every level). Challenging myself to play in club events, then club championships, then state events (quals, fourballs, club matches).

    I feel like improvement has been like going to finer and finer grit sand paper. Like, you start out taking out the HUGE stuff. . .missing shorties, hitting drives OB, fats and thins, leaving 15 footers short.

    Then, you just keep polishing. Working on partial wedges, tightening up dispersion. Figuring out how to adjust to a hole that doesn't bend your favorite way. Learning how to make adjustments in round. Hitting better sand shots. Learning to commit to a shot. Learning to get comfortable at new scoring levels. Learning to play better in different weather, different green conditions, etc etc.

    Never feeling like any score or any handicap level was out of range even to the point of self-delusion. (and I still don't. I told a guy the other day I'm in "late July form" and he said, "nice, you're peaking." I said, "nope. Still getting better.")

    I've started taking my health more seriously the last couple years (through yoga) and it's helped avoid injury (I think) and made me stronger through the core.

    I've had a few lessons along the way, but I've done a LOT more work on my own through mindful practice (Adam Young's "The Practice Manual" is a great piece of writing if you really want to grind on your own game).

    Getting low has just been a lot of "work". Fortunately, I really enjoy practicing and have a job that allows me some flexibility.

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  • PepperturboPepperturbo Midwest and SouthwestMembers  16530WRX Points: 868Handicap: Low-Mid SDPosts: 16,530 Titanium Tees
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    I took up the game at 40 and reached high single digit inside of five years around running a company. Reached "2" index a few years later. Whether someone reaches scratch or better depends on athletic ability, practice time, dedication and desire.

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  • Chowdah86Chowdah86 Members  342WRX Points: 39Posts: 342 Greens
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    Played crappy munis when I was a kid, but never did well, didn't keep a Handicap, was the worst among friends. Stopped playing in college and picked it up at 23, fell in love with the game and decided to give it a real effort. Began keeping my handicap when I embarked on the journey. Went from 30+ down to 12 for a couple years. Then rocketed down to 4.5 and now around 6. Sorry, not scratch.

    I read every book, watched every clinic. Exclusively from the pros- I don't take advice from people who don't play for a living. Only had 4 lessons from different guys, all were absolutely, completely, utterly useless.

    Major for me:
    1) Grip Stance Aim and ball position Always the same.
    2) Take video
    3) Grip pressure: and tension in general. Keep the same through the swing.
    3) One swing. Swing with the same effort and rhythm every time, just pop different clubs into your hands.
    4) Play golf on golf courses, not rubber mats
    5) Spend the majority of your time mastering your green-side wedge and your putter.
    6) Carefully work on adding comfortable consistent ball speed to your ‘one swing’. Know and Play your comfortable yardages, never reach.

    Posted:
  • rich_s2rich_s2 wisconsinMembers  1009WRX Points: 789Handicap: 1.6Posts: 1,009 Platinum Tees
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    I know a lot of people, golf is hard, especially mentally. People with high goals that underestimate the game's difficulty don't last long enough to get to scratch. Out of all the people I play with, only 2 have what it takes to get better. By that I mean the time and dedication. I went from a 10 to a 5-6 pretty quick in the last year but am learning how much harder going from 5-6 to scratch is. I do love a challenge though.

    Posted:
  • dubbelbogeydubbelbogey Members  540WRX Points: 256Posts: 540 Golden Tee
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    Another variant of this question: who has done it after retirement?

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  • robdalkyrobdalky Members  198WRX Points: 85Posts: 198 Fairways
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    So far, rgk and bogey appear to be the only ones who have pulled this off. Looks like Dan who has probably had 10K students in his career had 3 or 4 that have done it. Well done mates.

    RP - great post. About the mental game - fake it until you make it?

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  • Exactice808Exactice808 Just want to hit ball far and go find it... Members  4841WRX Points: 429Handicap: 7-27Posts: 4,841 Titanium Tees
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    On -, @dubbelbogey said:

    Another variant of this question: who has done it after retirement?

    Honestly, per prior poster above, its the accordion effect.

    College students (considering funds to play and practice) have the reasonable ample time to practice.
    Family/Middle aged is tougher, Either you have family to deal with or you have a job to deal with. Ample practice is less likely during this phase. SECONDLY finances. to play and practice lets face it $40-$80+ a week on green fees then add in 1-2baskets per week can add up real fast in cost... My kids day care is more than my Mortgage......

    Retired.... AH.... kids are out.... bills should be paid. Set income, plus hopefully (retirement fund)
    I play with 2 retired guys that are low single digits...., Funny thing is one plays with M2 super game improvident irons. the other. Ping Eye2s and a 45" 7 wood.

    Lets face it golf requires a high degree of hand eye coordination. 2 degrees of change with face angle at impact can skew a shot offline quite a bit..... you need full control of your game, to include emotions at a scratch level....... period.

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  • GLF4EVRGLF4EVR Members  846WRX Points: 77Posts: 846 Golden Tee
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    Not sure if I have this story correct. One time a reporter asked Hogan the toughest distance in golf & Hogan immediately said, "6 inches...the space between your ears". Working in the VA for 28 years that saying applies to many things. It really fits on this topic. Most golfers by the time they reach single digits have learned to avoid the "cookie cutter" golf swing advice. You do tinker with things, but you use what works for you. The lowest I ever got to was a 3 & that was my teenage years. I am close to 61 now & really thinking of retiring at 62. The local course is a 70 & my best was last year before bilateral foot surgery...a 72. Right now I am everywhere. I can run 6-8 holes at par with birdie chances, then reel off a double & a triple. Last weekend was a 48 on the front & a 39 on the back. Did not have my first par till the 7th hole. Once I retire I can get out more & plan on getting close to what my best was. It just takes what everyone has been talking about....mental is the main thing. Said another way it is "FOCUS"...instead of what is usually human instinct.."F--k Us".

    Posted:
  • iteachgolfiteachgolf Members  17144WRX Points: 1,342Posts: 17,144 Titanium Tees
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    On -, @robdalky said:

    So far, rgk and bogey appear to be the only ones who have pulled this off. Looks like Dan who has probably had 10K students in his career had 3 or 4 that have done it. Well done mates.

    RP - great post. About the mental game - fake it until you make it?

    On -, @robdalky said:

    So far, rgk and bogey appear to be the only ones who have pulled this off. Looks like Dan who has probably had 10K students in his career had 3 or 4 that have done it. Well done mates.

    RP - great post. About the mental game - fake it until you make it?

    Not even close to 10k students, that’s an insane number. And if you changed it to 15 handicap to 2 handicap and it’d be well over 100 students.

    Posted:
  • nfmotonfmoto Members  250WRX Points: 97Posts: 250 Greens
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    I've done it 2x.
    Early 20's, and late 20's after a 4 year injury hiatus.

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  • nbean8nbean8 Members  30WRX Points: 35Handicap: 2Posts: 30 Bunkers
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    I had casually golfed as a teenager, maybe 5 or so rounds per year. Was never really great, and had a wicked slice. Continued around that same pace through college, but had some improvement in my swing. Playing baseball through college, I never had the opportunity to play much more than those few times a year. A year or two after I graduated, I joined a league at a public course, and my first indexes were around 10.

    Since then, I am now hovering in the 2's and was in the 1's last summer. I'll take some nines and occasionally a whole round under par, but have never been down to the 0's or +. The main reason for this, I believe, is time. Getting from 10 - 2 over past years, I was playing at least twice a week and hitting the range another time or two. Having a wife and child now, I'll only average around one round, and/or one practice session per week. Playing in the northeast also doesn't help, taking 3 - 4 months off in the winter really sets you back each spring.

    The next most important thing, is to have the desire to be good. Quite simply, you have to love the game.

    Now if you have the time and you have the desire, you then must have to have some natural ability / awareness of what your body is doing. Having spatial awareness allows you to understand how and why your hitting shots with a certain result. This is for both good and bad shots.

    Lastly, I believe you have to build a metal bank of knowledge that you can draw from. This knowledge bank contains all of your tournament experiences, successes, failures, course management, understanding of your swing mechanics, etc. This is another way of looking at what RP posted about mental toughness.

    You have to have all four elements to be a scratch player. If any one of these elements are missing, you end up somewhere like me, hovering around a 2 - 5 probably. Still pretty solid, but not exactly winning any amateur events or club championships.

    Posted:
  • jchuckpjchuckp Members  3WRX Points: 5Posts: 3 Starters
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    I went from a 7 to a 3, then scratch. The main difference was playing within my self, minimizing risks and the understanding that one bad shot should not cost me two, or three. Short game is key, but so is discipline and mental toughness. I was a scratch at 26 years of age, and still a 3 at 43 years of age. While I may not be as physically gifted as I used to be, I am considerably stronger mentally. If I hit a bad shot, or put myself in a difficult situation, I have the confidence, and discipline to not let that bad shot cost me anything more. I simply get the ball back in play, focus on my ideal yardage for the next shot, clear the mind and execute. In the end, it comes down to your ability to check your ego, remove all doubt, take dead aim and swing the handle. Stay focused when you're on the course, don't let you mind wander, one shot, one ball, mind over matter.

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  • jchuckpjchuckp Members  3WRX Points: 5Posts: 3 Starters
    Joined:  #30

    I went from a 7 to a 3, then scratch. The main difference was playing within myself, minimizing risks and the understanding that one bad shot should not cost me two, or three. Short game is key, but so is discipline and mental toughness. I was a scratch at 26 years of age, and am still a 3 at 43 years of age. While I may not be as physically gifted as I used to be, I am considerably stronger mentally. If I hit a bad shot, or put myself in a difficult situation, I have the confidence, and discipline to not let that bad shot cost me anything more. I simply get the ball back in play, focus on my ideal yardage for the next shot, clear the mind and execute. In the end, it comes down to your ability to check your ego, remove all doubt, take dead aim and swing the handle. Stay focused when you're on the course, don't let you mind wander, one shot, one ball, mind over matter.

    Posted:
  • GolfWRXGolfWRX Warning Points: 0  11 Members Posts: 11 #ad
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  • kobe123kobe123 Golf Is A Way Of Life Jr. Boomers  1299WRX Points: 194Posts: 1,299 Platinum Tees
    Joined:  #31

    Alright, I'll chime in. I'm not sure when I was a 10, but I'm currently a 0.3 but got down to a +2 last year. (I currently take online lessons from Dan) Here is how I've practiced and what I've learned:

    1. Learn how to reduce big numbers. This is a game changer. Huge numbers hurt me in college. I specifically remember having 16 pars and two triples.
    2. Learn your ball flight.
    3. Get better with the driver (OB shots will kill your game)
    4. Work on 10 feet and in putts (Anything outside that range statistically you're not going to make)
    5. Find someone like Dan and take their advice even if you manage to struggle in the beginning. You'll get better in the end.
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