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Higher handicap getting serious. Any advice?


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Find one shot shape and stick to that. Watching weekend amateurs playing army golf makes my eye twitch.

Go play!     Enjoy the process of the game.  Your scores will ebb and flow, and that's ok.   Range time is nice, but that isn't really the point of this endeavor.     Gol

If you like practicing, then practice more but be sure to get some guidance to make sure you not practicing/repeating bad moves.   If you like playing, then play more and remind yourself to

1 hour ago, Murphy76 said:

 

Go play!  

 

Enjoy the process of the game.  Your scores will ebb and flow, and that's ok.

 

Range time is nice, but that isn't really the point of this endeavor.  

 

Golf is about the whole experience:  

 

-being outside in a beautiful setting

-spending relaxed time with your friends and family

-hitting shots that would be the envy of professionals (1-in-100)

-earning lower scores at a glacier pace

-one of the sweet experiences of this short life

 

 

 


This is good advice. 
 

Also, learn to love practicing putting.  
 

And then go practice putting a lot.  

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If you like practicing, then practice more but be sure to get some guidance to make sure you not practicing/repeating bad moves.

 

If you like playing, then play more and remind yourself to enjoy the act of hitting the shots just as much as you enjoy the results of hitting them well.

 

If what you really want is to become a "good" golfer (whatever level of "good" is your goal) then my best advice is:

 

a) make sure that's what you really want out of the game

b) pace yourself and do not under any circumstances put it on a specific time frame

c) when you regress or don't make progress for a while give yourself a break, it is a marathon not a sprint

 

Generally speaking, the more you can get your enjoyment out of the process instead of the results, the more the game has to offer you. Results are fickle and can disappoint on any given day or week or month. But you have total control over the process and can always choose to play and practice the way you want, regardless of that day's fickle results. 

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Few things that seem to be helping me this season are a more serious approach to my putting, making a solid effort on all putts, and missing approaches short, had a tendency to miss long and it just seemed to cost a lot more strokes than missing short and being on the fringe/front skirt area. Also a tendency to hit more chips/pitches with my 52 and allowing for more release, than the typical lob wedge from everywhere throw it at the pin mentality (which is hard to break lol) 

 

And for me I tend to play all par 5s as 3 shotters, (unless I'm inside 200 for 2nd) but laying up to a yardage I feel comfortable hitting a wedge in, has given me more birdie looks, and easy pars, then going for it with 3 wood and spraying it. Same with getting into trouble off the tee, I'll take my medicine, punch it out and try to recover from there, instead of trying to pull off the miracle shot through the trees over the pond ect. Course experience seems to benefit me more than beating balls on the range, but that's just me, and I could def stand to take a couple lessons haha, but the whole course management thing when your in the heat of it, staying cool and not making that big number, really helps keep total score down for me. 👍

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All of the posters presented some great advice.  I would add only one more item regarding your choice of coaches.  While there are a lot of very capable coaches out there try to find one that speaks to you in way you can understand.  If you can't communicate effectively with your coach he could be brilliant but you may never get what he's trying to teach you.

 

Good luck and have fun!

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Play as much as you can.

 

I don't go to the range much because I can practice on my home course. Hitting off mats doesn't do much for me and everything I hit looks like it went about 150. 

 

The only way I've been able to dial in my yardage is to hit balls at a green of known distance.

 

But I also don't keep score because it has no impact on my life, so there is that. 

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Op:

 

Depending on how serious you want to get and the amount of time and money are available there are several recommendations I will offer.

 

1.  time and money to burn - find a good teacher in your area and start putting in the time.  This will require 4-6 hours a day of fitness, stretching, diet, practice and occasional play.

 

2.  time and money are limited - find a good teacher in your area and do an 8 week program meeting once per week and practice 3-4 days a week on the specific lesson each week.  play 18 1 day a week,

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11 hours ago, Kevin P said:

Like the title says. I’m hitting the range, working on contact, and hitting driver consistently. Plan on moving on to shaping shots once my ball striking gets better. Chipping has always been the best part of my game. 

I would not personally worry very much about shaping shots until you are at least a single digit.  I would focus much more on finding a consistent stock shot shape.  In my humble opinion, unless you get to be a plus handicap, having a stock shot shape that you use over 90% of the time will lead to lower scores than trying to shape shots throughout the round.  Learning how to flight the ball is more important, and falls under the category of shaping, but hitting a draw or fade on command is over rated for all but the best ball strikers.  Other advice, of the same type, is to develop a shot pattern where you have a consistent miss, rather than a two way miss.  If you can develop this it is so much easier to get around the course.  
you can’t work enough on shots 50 yards and in.  Pitching, chipping and putting.  When I play with high handicappers they miss the green by 30 yards and end up missing again and making a bogey.  The good players are getting these up and down fairly often for par, and almost never duffing or skulling the pitch and making double.  If you can get to the point where you are very rarely turning these situations into a double and are regularly saving par, it really keeps you in rounds.  
The other thing that can really lower your scores easily is to learn to manage the course.  Learn where to miss and when to attack the pins and when to hit safer shots towards the center of the green.  Think about the around the green and the green topography.  Think of the consequences, good and bad, of different shots.  In general I try to be aggressive off the tee and a little more conservative into many greens.  Don’t miss the green in places that will leave you a near impossible up and down.  
good luck!

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51 minutes ago, jomatty said:

I would not personally worry very much about shaping shots until you are at least a single digit.  I would focus much more on finding a consistent stock shot shape.  In my humble opinion, unless you get to be a plus handicap, having a stock shot shape that you use over 90% of the time will lead to lower scores than trying to shape shots throughout the round.  Learning how to flight the ball is more important, and falls under the category of shaping, but hitting a draw or fade on command is over rated for all but the best ball strikers.  Other advice, of the same type, is to develop a shot pattern where you have a consistent miss, rather than a two way miss.  If you can develop this it is so much easier to get around the course.  
you can’t work enough on shots 50 yards and in.  Pitching, chipping and putting.  When I play with high handicappers they miss the green by 30 yards and end up missing again and making a bogey.  The good players are getting these up and down fairly often for par, and almost never duffing or skulling the pitch and making double.  If you can get to the point where you are very rarely turning these situations into a double and are regularly saving par, it really keeps you in rounds.  
The other thing that can really lower your scores easily is to learn to manage the course.  Learn where to miss and when to attack the pins and when to hit safer shots towards the center of the green.  Think about the around the green and the green topography.  Think of the consequences, good and bad, of different shots.  In general I try to be aggressive off the tee and a little more conservative into many greens.  Don’t miss the green in places that will leave you a near impossible up and down.  
good luck!

That is excellent advice, I will keep this comment in mind on my journey! Thank you

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I would suggest finding a happy medium between practicing and playing. If you want to get better and are a high handicapper, it likely means you have meaningful deficiencies in your swing, and the only way to overcome these deficiencies is quality range time (see more on that below). That said, you can't get better at scoring, which is the real goal of golf without playing. Find the happy medium (i.e., range twice a week and play 18 once a week or whatever works best for your schedule) and you should be able to progress effectively. 

 

As for practice, the goal should be to have a clear plan and improve whatever your biggest issue is until that issue is resolved and then move onto the next. You can work on more than one thing, but I have found it incredibly helpful to have a primary focus. Identifying this focus is the hard part, and that's where having a coach (in person or online) can go a long way. For instance, your coach can identify your takeaway as the primary issue and then you can work on that for weeks / months until you improve that element, which will cascade throughout your swing, in theory. Then, move onto the next thing (e.g., your pivot) and the compound effects can have massive results. 

 

Video / feedback is also important. The old adage that feel isn't real is incredibly true, so at least checking via video on a consistent basis can make sure you aren't far afield of your goal. 

 

Finally, be comfortable with the ups and downs. I can't tell you how many times I've gotten worse before I got better or even just got worse for no reason. Don't let these slumps make you give up on your goal or make golf not fun. Appreciate the process, the game, being outside, learning new things about your swings, etc. and you'll "win" either way. 

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Here is how I improved.  PLAYING with a regular group every week with people who play better than me.  The group has to play for money (we did one dollar per hole skins and five dollar closest to the hole on the par 3 holes).

 

When you play for money and don't win any money back, you will force yourself to get better by thinking more about your game and how to improve. You can take all the lessons you want and play all the casual B.S. rounds you want, but until you have something on the line, your mind won't be in the game.

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3 hours ago, bcski said:

 

As others have said, don't worry about shaping shots. Maybe as an escape shot that you need to bend to get the ball back into play. Just better off getting the ball on the green when a particular pin placement doesn't match up with your shot shape.

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Learn how to recover. Most high handicaps I see get in trouble and just compound it. Learn your true distances, not some fantasy yardage you may hit 1/100, most everyone I play with is constantly short. I wouldn't worry about working the ball beyond maybe trajectory control, and even then that is something for way down the line. 

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1. As mentioned 1000x above, find a good instructor you connect with. This is so important. 

 

2. Practice what they teach you by hitting balls slo-mo into a net so you're not distracted by the ball flight. 3x at 20-50% speed, then 3-6 regular speed.

 

3. Stay off the YouTube golf instruction. You do not need a bunch of conflicting swing theories or videos that address problems that aren't yours. It's unfair to yourself, and to the instructor who took the time to work with you. I've fallen into this trap, and it ain't good. Find a method you like that helps you. At the end of the day, it's about hitting good shots and lowering your scores and having fun.

 

4. You'll likely be working on a lot of swing flaws at first. Work on 1 at a time for 10-20 min max, then the next one. Don't try do it all at once, or you'll blow a gasket mentally and actually curtail the speed of your improvement. Remember, you're retraining motor skills in one of the most difficult of sports. Cut yourself some slack.

 

5. Take a lesson devoted entirely to putting and short game. Practice your short game more than your long game. As a high-handicapper, you're gonna miss a lot of greens, and you'll be amazed by how much you can lower your scores by getting up and down for bogey or par. Short game mastery is a lot of fun, and builds confidence -- especially on days when you're really spraying the ball. I shoot in the high 70s to low 80s, and often miss plenty of greens. What keeps my score from ballooning is the ability to turn a bogey into a par (sometimes).

 

6. Make bogey your par for a while. Your job is to avoid the big number-- doubles, triples, or worse.

 

7. Play from the forward tees for a while, then the middle ones. You're not good enough to play from the back yet. I don't care how long you hit it. Playing from the forward tees will help mitigate the effect of your misses and build your confidence up. If your pals give you crap about it, have them take a look at your improved scorecard and pace of play. Or better yet, ditch 'em as playing partners, they suck.

 

8. Use your 3-wood more if you can. Loft is your friend when you mishit the ball.

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Practice and play as often as you can.  My ball striking is the weakest part of my game and my short game is decent so we seem to be similar in that way.  I would say get a few lessons then take what you learn, process it and work on it at the range.  Best way to improve ball striking IMO.  Half or more strokes come from putting so spend more time practicing that. 

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21 hours ago, bcski said:

Op:

 

Depending on how serious you want to get and the amount of time and money are available there are several recommendations I will offer.

 

1.  time and money to burn - find a good teacher in your area and start putting in the time.  This will require 4-6 hours a day of fitness, stretching, diet, practice and occasional play.

 

2.  time and money are limited - find a good teacher in your area and do an 8 week program meeting once per week and practice 3-4 days a week on the specific lesson each week.  play 18 1 day a week,

1. OP you are not a pro and nobody who isn't is putting in 4-6 hours a day of fitness/practice, etc.

2. You absolutely would not need to meet with a teacher once a week for 8 weeks and if you find a teacher that believes you need this, find another.

 

Like others have said, find an instructor you connect with, let he or she evaluate your swing and goals (i.e., are you looking for just some things to help you but not making any significant changes or are you going to be addressing root issue(s) in your swing over time?).  

 

Go from there.  

 

Find some of Monte's discussions on here about why golfers don't get better and do the opposite!  Short game and putting are out there as well in the mix but see where your instructor's evaluation will take you then put in the work and make the effort.

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On 6/10/2021 at 7:20 PM, Kevin P said:

Like the title says. I’m hitting the range, working on contact, and hitting driver consistently. Plan on moving on to shaping shots once my ball striking gets better. Chipping has always been the best part of my game. 

Work on swinging faster before working on shaping shots.
 

I will mention that very rarely is there an actual need to shape any shot, especially if your shots are mostly straight.

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1. Get rid of any thought about shaping shots until your handicap is under 3.

2. Get lessons about every 3-4 weeks and work on just a couple things at a time. Put a plan together on what to work on and for how long with your instructor. People way underestimate how long it takes even small changes to become ingrained. 

3. Play as often as you can.

4. Have setup keys to check. Solid setup helps a ton.

3 play as often as you can.

5. Learn what you do to not hit it well and what positions your instructor wants you in. Get it in video with your instructor and then learn how to record yourself so you can spot check your own progress in-between lessons.

3. Play as often as you can.

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22 hours ago, bcski said:

Practice DOES NOT make perfect.

 

PERFECT PRACTICE makes PERFECT

Depends on what you call perfect practice. 

 

Some of my best practice sessions have been when I'm hitting it the worst. Figuring out how to go from bad to good in a range session does wonders for swing awareness and intra round adjustments. 

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19 minutes ago, getitdaily said:

Depends on what you call perfect practice. 

 

Some of my best practice sessions have been when I'm hitting it the worst. Figuring out how to go from bad to good in a range session does wonders for swing awareness and intra round adjustments. 

I can relate to that,  However, I was referring to ingraining muscle memory...

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Understand the concepts of shot shaping even if you can't do it yet !!!!  Not taught early enough!  If you understand why the ball does what it does you'll have a huge advantage of getting better as you can correct yourself and know what you did plus you can have a much deeper conversation with a teacher/better players who help you.... or you can stay at the kids table lol

 

Other is get really good hitting different shots with your lob wedge....  low, lob, open face, all the different yards, buttery smooth, hard etc.... not only useful cause you're gonna miss a lot a lot of greens but it develops touch which helps throughout your bag.  When learning I used to play lob shots on all green side shots as they were the toughest as low runners were easy and lobs are fun, friends would ridicule me sayin that's not the right shot,  but I'd say the other shots are much easier and I'm trying to improve plus its just fun.... I play par golf and they really haven't improved much lol

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