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Improving in fits and starts; lowest round by 8 strokes today! What to focus on next?


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When you were improving, did you improve gradually, or did it come together all at once?  What caused your improvements?  I had been shooting mid to high 80's at my local course (a slope 131 track but tougher this time of year due to wet fairways and lack of rollout on drives). Heck, I shot 115 back in April when I was struggling with my swing.  Yesterday I broke through and went 76, and even on the back 9 after a sluggish start.   Honestly, it felt easy.  I didn't make any putts I shouldn't have made; I just didn't make a ton of mistakes.  I counted 4 "mistakes" in terms of bad putts, duffed chips that cost me strokes, and one bad luck event due to standing water.  Seems about right I suppose. 

 

When you made that "jump", was it all at once, or did it take a lot of time? I have been golfing again since July (I played a lot as a 13-14 year old but am now early 40's and haven't picked up a club since high school).  I have been really struggling with my timing, which partially has to do with the fact that I am a pretty strong guy (despite being fairly slender) and I just swing way, way too hard.  I was injured for a few weeks and the most I could do was take 30-yard PW swings: that may have really helped with my strike and timing, looking back.   But yeah, I was about ready to give up.  Not being able to get much under 90 for a good 8 months is really, really frustrating! 

 

I look back at the round and think "that is about how I should play on a regular basis" if I am not a bonehead.  I had 3 birdies and lipped out on 2 more, so I am getting chances. I just need to get more consistent off the tee and not do really, really dumb things like chunking chips 3 feet or not check the wind and be off by 2 clubs.  Still a noob I suppose. 

 

When you got to this point, what was your primary area of focus? The least consistent part of my game is still my swing, followed by putting. I am long enough off the tee that a wayward drive can really kill me.  

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Being in the zone so to speak.  When pros experience it, they win tournaments.  When we ams experience it, we shoot low scores and get to brag to our friends.  It's easy.  Just point and shoot.  Get on the green one or two putt, move onto the next hole.  Round usually seems like it goes by quickly.  Hands, back, elbows and other joints aren't nearly as sore.  Perfect day.  When I make the periodic "jumps" it usually is a long time coming.  Figuring out my swing and putting all the pieces together.  Short game clicks as well and bam, I shoot in the low 70's.  I'm hoping that I shoot even or under for at least one round before the year is over.  Best score for this year has been 73. 

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14 hours ago, Gsea said:

Might want to wait until you string a few of these rounds together b4 jumping the gun. Congrats tho

I agree with this based on personal experience.  When I first focused on breaking 100 back in 2008, I shot a 45 for 9 within a few weeks of starting, breaking 50 for the first time ever. I thought I was all set. I didn't break 100 for a couple more years. Once I broke 100, I went out and played carefree golf and shot in the low 90s a couple times. Start to work on breaking 90 and that took a few more years, lol. Break 90 and I had a number of rounds in the 80s. 

 

I quit playing from 2013-late 2019. Now I'm trying to shoot under 85, which I've done once before prior to my hiatus. April 2020,  I play a quick 9 and shoot a 41 which is my best 9 ever. Everything was clicking. Played 18 the next day and the zone was gone, lol. I have seen periodic flashes of very good golf but can't seem to have it be more than a 1 off for 9 holes, I love the 51/41 I posted last week.

 

The way I am approaching things is focus on the biggest issue. I use Arccos, so have a good idea where my problems are, approach shots. Thins and chunks sprinkled in with the odd shank. If my irons are on, I'm likely going to do pretty good unless my driver goes MIA that day. Now my short game and putting are okay but not great. I'm starting to work on them a little more since the improvements there will be faster than the full swing. Regardless, full swing work gets the majority of my practice time.

 

My advice is look at how much practice time you have. Look at what areas of your game need work. Now figure out the time commitment to see results. Use that to guide you. Putting may be low hanging fruit, so you could practice it a lot and make some real strides. Or you can be like me and work on it some to start getting better while focusing on a bigger/slower issue to fix. For the most part, there is no right or wrong, it's what's best for you. 

 

 

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15 hours ago, RoyalMustang said:

When you got to this point, what was your primary area of focus? The least consistent part of my game is still my swing, followed by putting.

This answer seems pretty obvious.  Whatever you did consistently well, work to do it all the time.  Apparently you hit the ball consistently well with full swing shots, if you made a few short game and putting "mistakes", reinforce that until you hit the ball consistently well constantly.  One round doesn't mean you've solved it, but it shows that you're capable of solving it.

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When I first got a cap as I began playing competitive golf trying to make the clubs interclub teams I was at a 12. Then jumped go a 9, then to a 5 and plateaued there for a few years then the last two years I'm about a 1. Now it's more about fine tuning things, mainly shortgame to nix some bogies to get to scratch/+

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14 hours ago, Gsea said:

Might want to wait until you string a few of these rounds together b4 jumping the gun. Congrats tho

I shot three rounds in the 70's earlier this year and I was thinking of playing once every two weeks since, I "got this". Even before being able to start that playing once every two weeks, golf gods smacked me with a smooth 94. lol 

 

But congrats on the new personal best! It should only get better from there. 

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What I spend a lot of time on is making sure that my driver is a weapon and not a liability. A LOT of work those 30-70 yard wedge shots. It's embarrassing on potentially driveable par 4s to come up 20yda short and make par or worse.

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10 hours ago, davep043 said:

This answer seems pretty obvious.  Whatever you did consistently well, work to do it all the time.  Apparently you hit the ball consistently well with full swing shots, if you made a few short game and putting "mistakes", reinforce that until you hit the ball consistently well constantly.  One round doesn't mean you've solved it, but it shows that you're capable of solving it.

 

Actually, the largest improvement was being laid off for 3 weeks due to a joint strain in my back. I took 10 days off and only did 30-40 yard punch shots for the other 10 days (I have a park nearby that has roughly 40 yards of grass tucked in the trees).  It really helped with my tempo and face feel.  Now I am staying behind the ball and making square contact, with a smoother, easier tempo.  

 

When I get tense, I make mistakes, but when I just let my shoulders flow naturally, good things happen! 

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10 hours ago, SNIPERBBB said:

What I spend a lot of time on is making sure that my driver is a weapon and not a liability. A LOT of work those 30-70 yard wedge shots. It's embarrassing on potentially driveable par 4s to come up 20yda short and make par or worse.

 

Thanks!  Yeah, the 30-70 yarders are really coming along.  I took a lesson today and have never hit my driver so well: I took 12 swings and 9 would have been middle of the fairway, and I was carrying 275 with beat-up range balls.  That has been a HUGE liability for me in the past as I spray it everywhere, but if I can work on my tempo and just stay behind the ball, I am in really good shape.  I had 10/14 fairways when I shot 76.  

 

I played again today and shot an 80; the difference was 7/14 fairways and a penalty ball.  I took a lesson afterward and things came together.  Bummer I start a new job next week and won't be playing much!  

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Posted (edited)
8 minutes ago, RoyalMustang said:

 

Actually, the largest improvement was being laid off for 3 weeks due to a joint strain in my back. I took 10 days off and only did 30-40 yard punch shots for the other 10 days (I have a park nearby that has roughly 40 yards of grass tucked in the trees).  It really helped with my tempo and face feel.  Now I am staying behind the ball and making square contact, with a smoother, easier tempo.  

 

When I get tense, I make mistakes, but when I just let my shoulders flow naturally, good things happen! 

Good.  Practice that stuff for a month, until it happens every single time.  One round does not mean its there forever, proper practice can ingrained it.  Practice until you keep the right tempo, even when you get anxious.  When that much is automatic, then move to something new.  Sure, spend some time on other aspects, but making your full swing changes permanent is the best thing you can do.

Edited by davep043
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11 hours ago, SNIPERBBB said:

When I first got a cap as I began playing competitive golf trying to make the clubs interclub teams I was at a 12. Then jumped go a 9, then to a 5 and plateaued there for a few years then the last two years I'm about a 1. Now it's more about fine tuning things, mainly shortgame to nix some bogies to get to scratch/+

 

Cool. I am building out a plan. Areas to work on:

 

1) 3/4 to full swing. Tempo and weight distribution-load right, transition, move left while staying behind the ball.  If I do this correctly and turn well, I won't hit worse than an 8/10 shot.   Get more comfortable not swinging "hard" with the driver. Tempo is all I really need. 

2) shorter game: consistent shoulder rotation: keep the club moving forward but don't lead with the hands. Soft hands.  My short game is starting to save some pars.  Keep doing the 30-50 yard pitch and punch shots for rhythm and impact feel. 

3) putting: more consistency. Keeping the putter down the line after impact, head down, and putter head low.  This results in a solid strike every time and good distance control. 

 

 

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Posted (edited)
2 minutes ago, davep043 said:

Good.  Practice that stuff for a month, until it happens every single time.  One round does not mean its there forever, proper practice can ingrained it.  When that much is automatic, then move to something new.  Sure, spend some time on other aspects, but making your full swing changes permanent is the best thing you can do.

 

Thanks! I just spent 45 minutes out there this evening, hitting 120 balls with same easy wedge 40 yards; identical tempo and balance.  It is becoming repeatable and hopefully something I soon won't have to think about due to muscle memory

 

Unfortunately, the local course has moved to mats 5 days a week due to heavy range use and they have done nothing but hurt my swing. 

Edited by RoyalMustang
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14 minutes ago, RoyalMustang said:

 

Thanks! I just spent 45 minutes out there this evening, hitting 120 balls with same easy wedge 40 yards; identical tempo and balance.  It is becoming repeatable and hopefully something I soon won't have to think about due to muscle memory

 

Unfortunately, the local course has moved to mats 5 days a week due to heavy range use and they have done nothing but hurt my swing. 

Yeah get off those mats ASAP. They're barely good for hitting driver off of. Need to bring your own tee for them unless they're the kind of mats that except real tees. The tees that they tend to have are usually a ball too high for all but the most severe of chronic driver toppers.

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