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I started golfing in about 2005-6.  I broke 100 for the first time about 6 years ago or so.  On Friday, I finally broke 90 with a an 87.  My previous personal best was a 92.  I've really had two goals recently.  One was to break 90, and the other was to get through a round without any flubs or mishits (I don't think I've ever had a round where I didn't chunk or top a ball about 40 yards or so).  Right now, I'm mostly just going to try to keep my momentum going, but at some point, I guess I'll need a new goal.

I think there are three things that really helped me improve.  I hit a long plateau in which I was learning and practicing more than ever with no appreciable results.  I can't promise these thoughts will help you, but that is certainly my hope.

First, I started swinging the club very frequently.  I used to practice a lot, but it was several long range sessions over a month.  I'd often go weeks at a time without swinging a club, and I don't believe that allowed me to address fundamental swing changes or rebuild my swing.  That frequency may be enough for better golfers to improve, maintain, or it might be enough for those more talented than I, but it just didn't work for me.  I started practicing more often (at least once every other day), and for a much shorter duration (sometimes only 10-15 minutes, but usually about 30-45).  I bought my dad a simulator for xmas, so I've been going to his house a lot which is near my office, but I also swing the club in the grass in my back yard, etc.  I just make sure I get some swings in at least every other day.

Second, I broke my 9i during a lesson and started playing much thinner soled clubs (my dad's old irons) off a very firm and unforgiving mat. This resulted in fat shots ending up much shorter than I was used to. When I was swinging a 7i, hitting fat, but still carrying 140 and having the ball go 150, I ended up with a playable looking result. To clarify, with wide soled clubs, I'd hit reasonable distances at the range, and then go out to the course, where the turf is less forgiving, and my chunks would result in much worse shots. With thinner soled clubs, I couldn't get away with chunks, even off a mat, so I had to learn how to move my low point forward and make better contact. I've posted about this before, and many of you have disagreed with me. I'm not advocating for beginners to buy blades or anything crazy, but just realize that a plush mat and thick soled game improvement irons can mask low point issues. So play off of turf as much as possible (range or course), or at least do some drills or find some aids to help with low point control if you have to hit off a mat.

Third is just a thought about how I practiced, and honestly, it may be the most important.  I used to go to the range and usually only hit an 8 or 7i (or both).  I just really wanted to hit a nice little draw with an 8i about 140 carry, or 150 carry with a 7.  I thought that was reasonable for my swing speed, and would help me improve my iron play.  So I'd just swing and swing trying to come more from the inside.  That method did not work for several reasons.  As stated before, the mat and my clubs allowed me to hit decent shots at the range that couldn't translate to the course.  But I think the bigger issue is that even though I was usually able to grind my irons into working the way I wanted, it took a lot of time and effort, and that process is just not relevant to the game of golf.  If golf, you never hit the same shot twice.  In practice, that was all I was doing.  Since I've been playing the simulator, I've been aiming at targets, considering hazards, thinking about risk, and playing each shot as it comes.  Somehow that has helped me improve my contact more than just banging away at the same shot over and over.  I still prepare for practice in a similar way.  I'll google some of the issues I'm having, watch some instructional videos, take some notes, and then review those right before I play.  But now instead of hitting 200 shots where I'm trying to change the path of my 7i over and over, I'm playing different clubs, different shapes, different trajectories, and somehow it's accelerated my improvement.  I also think playing has forced me to practice the hybrid a lot more.  Having a 180-200 yard club that I feel I can trust/is reliable has been a game changer.  I know not everyone can buy a simulator, but to the extent possible, play instead of going to the range, and when you do go to the range, play games and hit all your clubs.  Don't just swing the same iron over and over.  Trust me, it's a fools errand that I'm all too familiar with.

 

 

Edited by bonvivantva
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Titleist 913D2

Ping G2 3W

Ping G2 3H 18*, 4H 22*

Mizuno JPX900

Cleveland CBX 56, 60

Odyssey White Hot RX #2

Snell MTBX

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Couldn’t agree more, you make some great points. I just broke 90 today, after playing for about 3 years. After playing terrible yesterday and shooting 99. Been hovering in the low to mid 90s for a year and a half. I try to get short game practice, range time and play once a week. I made one of my goals for the year to play 9 holes more instead of range time. I just feel I get more out of it than wacking a bucket of balls and I don’t feel as much pressure to score for whatever reason like I do when playing 18.


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3 hours ago, LeftyRM7 said:

Couldn’t agree more, you make some great points. I just broke 90 today, after playing for about 3 years. After playing terrible yesterday and shooting 99. Been hovering in the low to mid 90s for a year and a half. I try to get short game practice, range time and play once a week. I made one of my goals for the year to play 9 holes more instead of range time. I just feel I get more out of it than wacking a bucket of balls and I don’t feel as much pressure to score for whatever reason like I do when playing 18.


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Congratulations!  There is a 9 hole course near me.  It's actually closer than the range I used to frequent.  I'm going to start trying to play there as much as I can.  I don't particularly enjoy playing alone/getting paired up with people I don't know, but it definitely beats range time for improvement.  Another reason I have been hesitant is that it's walking only, but I just bought a push cart.


Titleist 913D2

Ping G2 3W

Ping G2 3H 18*, 4H 22*

Mizuno JPX900

Cleveland CBX 56, 60

Odyssey White Hot RX #2

Snell MTBX

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13 hours ago, bonvivantva said:

I started golfing in about 2005-6.  I broke 100 for the first time about 6 years ago or so.  On Friday, I finally broke 90 with a an 87.  My previous personal best was a 92.  I've really had two goals recently.  One was to break 90, and the other was to get through a round without any flubs or mishits (I don't think I've ever had a round where I didn't chunk or top a ball about 40 yards or so).  Right now, I'm mostly just going to try to keep my momentum going, but at some point, I guess I'll need a new goal.

I think there are three things that really helped me improve.  I hit a long plateau in which I was learning and practicing more than ever with no appreciable results.  I can't promise these thoughts will help you, but that is certainly my hope.

First, I started swinging the club very frequently.  I used to practice a lot, but it was several long range sessions over a month.  I'd often go weeks at a time without swinging a club, and I don't believe that allowed me to address fundamental swing changes or rebuild my swing.  That frequency may be enough for better golfers to improve, maintain, or it might be enough for those more talented than I, but it just didn't work for me.  I started practicing more often (at least once every other day), and for a much shorter duration (sometimes only 10-15 minutes, but usually about 30-45).  I bought my dad a simulator for xmas, so I've been going to his house a lot which is near my office, but I also swing the club in the grass in my back yard, etc.  I just make sure I get some swings in at least every other day.

Second, I broke my 9i during a lesson and started playing much thinner soled clubs (my dad's old irons) off a very firm and unforgiving mat. This resulted in fat shots ending up much shorter than I was used to. When I was swinging a 7i, hitting fat, but still carrying 140 and having the ball go 150, I ended up with a playable looking result. To clarify, with wide soled clubs, I'd hit reasonable distances at the range, and then go out to the course, where the turf is less forgiving, and my chunks would result in much worse shots. With thinner soled clubs, I couldn't get away with chunks, even off a mat, so I had to learn how to move my low point forward and make better contact. I've posted about this before, and many of you have disagreed with me. I'm not advocating for beginners to buy blades or anything crazy, but just realize that a plush mat and thick soled game improvement irons can mask low point issues. So play off of turf as much as possible (range or course), or at least do some drills or find some aids to help with low point control if you have to hit off a mat.

Third is just a thought about how I practiced, and honestly, it may be the most important.  I used to go to the range and usually only hit an 8 or 7i (or both).  I just really wanted to hit a nice little draw with an 8i about 140 carry, or 150 carry with a 7.  I thought that was reasonable for my swing speed, and would help me improve my iron play.  So I'd just swing and swing trying to come more from the inside.  That method did not work for several reasons.  As stated before, the mat and my clubs allowed me to hit decent shots at the range that couldn't translate to the course.  But I think the bigger issue is that even though I was usually able to grind my irons into working the way I wanted, it took a lot of time and effort, and that process is just not relevant to the game of golf.  If golf, you never hit the same shot twice.  In practice, that was all I was doing.  Since I've been playing the simulator, I've been aiming at targets, considering hazards, thinking about risk, and playing each shot as it comes.  Somehow that has helped me improve my contact more than just banging away at the same shot over and over.  I still prepare for practice in a similar way.  I'll google some of the issues I'm having, watch some instructional videos, take some notes, and then review those right before I play.  But now instead of hitting 200 shots where I'm trying to change the path of my 7i over and over, I'm playing different clubs, different shapes, different trajectories, and somehow it's accelerated my improvement.  I also think playing has forced me to practice the hybrid a lot more.  Having a 180-200 yard club that I feel I can trust/is reliable has been a game changer.  I know not everyone can buy a simulator, but to the extent possible, play instead of going to the range, and when you do go to the range, play games and hit all your clubs.  Don't just swing the same iron over and over.  Trust me, it's a fools errand that I'm all too familiar with.

 

 

Congratulations! I was stuck on the 90 plateau for awhile, then 85 and the floor suddenly dropped to 75. Haven’t been able to get the floor lowered much more. 
 

Variability training is the key. I will still hit a 7 iron for 50 balls, but what might not be observable to those not paying attention is each shot has a different look to it. I’m trying to create small changes in my FEEL that result in different paths to different targets. I’ll also try to hit the shots different distances with the same tempo by slowing everything down or speeding everything up. I think it was Greg Norman who said take a full swing and hit it half as hard to learn control. 

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Stats: 5'4", Male, R-Handed, Moderate Tempo, Driver SS 106mph
 

Driver: Ping i25, S-flex PWR 65 shaft
3w/5w: Callaway X-Hot, S-flex Fubuki shafts
3i: FOURTEEN FH-1000, DG X100
4i-PW: Mizuno MP-4, DG S300
Wedges: Titleist SM7
56* Wedge: Callaway Jaws w/ 12* of bounce

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Congratulations on breaking 90!  Hopefully it's just the first of many times this year.  

My biggest hurdle was breaking 80 consistently and what changed for me was managing misses and/or playing with what I had that day.   IE typcially i fade the ball but that day I am pulling everything.  I wouldn't fight it, but played with it and picked a small target and if my miss happened, course management was more in play so I wouldn't be in a place where the big number could happen.

Secondly, being able to get up and down more frequently from 100 yards and in is huge.  Or have a goal of getting up and down from 100 yards 20% of the time for a first goal.

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Driver:  image.png.3c6db1120d888f669e07d4a8f890b3f1.pngMavrik Sub Zero 9* (Set to 10) Ventus Blue 6X

3 Wood: :titelist-small: 917F2 Fujikura Pro 84 Tour Spec S

3 Hybrid: :titelist-small: 818 H2 Hybrid Tensei Blue 80 X

Irons 4-PW: :mizuno-small: MP 18 SC Dynamic Gold AMT X

Gap/Sand Wedge:  :titelist-small: Vokey SM6 49*  SM8 54* 

Lob Wedge:  :titelist-small: Vokey SM6 58* Nippon Modus Wedge

Putter:  image.png.cca2328f4144a299c795aa9b8f3bf677.png Inovai 6.0              :scotty-small: Pro Platinum Newport 2 35"  

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I agreed with your statement about practicing with about not hitting the same iron over & over.  Normally, I'll change up my clubs from odd to even on the the different days at the range, i.e. Driver, Utility, 5, 7, 9, GW or Driver, Fairway, 6, 8, W, SW.  This leaves my LW & putter on the practice greens every day at the range.  On the driving range, if I get 30 balls, then I hit 5 with club...60 balls, then I hit 10 with each club.

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Driver: :cobra-small: King F9 Speedback, set to 10.5° draw, R Flex

Fairway: :cobra-small: King F6 3-4W, set to 16°, R Flex

Hybrid: :cobra-small: King F6 3-4H, set to 22°, R Flex

Irons 5-GW: :ping-small: G15 Black Dot, R Flex

Wedges: :cleveland-small: CBX2 56° & 60°

Putter: :ping-small: Karsten TR Anser 5 w/ WinnPro X Black/Blue 1.32" Grip

Ball: Titleist AVX

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33 minutes ago, tesparza said:

I agreed with your statement about practicing with about not hitting the same iron over & over.  Normally, I'll change up my clubs from odd to even on the the different days at the range, i.e. Driver, Utility, 5, 7, 9, GW or Driver, Fairway, 6, 8, W, SW.  This leaves my LW & putter on the practice greens every day at the range.  On the driving range, if I get 30 balls, then I hit 5 with club...60 balls, then I hit 10 with each club.

I think my problem started out innocently enough; I just wanted to hit a few decent shots in a row with a particular club.  However, however many balls/however much time I had would go by, and I'd never had moved on.  I also used to only go to the range with I had a lot of time to kill, so I didn't have to be very intentional about my practice time.  Now, I usually find myself with 45 minutes over lunch, or about the same after work, so I really have to have a plan to maximize a quick practice session.  The simulator really helps with being intentional, but you could probably do something similar at the range, and you could definitely do it with a portable launch monitor.  Basically I have different goals/metics for different clubs.  With my GW, I like to try to hit 102, 103, or 104 total carry.  I also generally imagine a very small target.  So a sign on the simulator range, but really I'm pin seeking.  With a 9i, I like to try to imagine a small to medium green is the target and I'm just trying to hit the middle. So if I carry about 125-130 and don't go offline by more than 5-10 yards in either direction, I call it a success.  With mid irons, I'm more worried about total distance and shot shape.  For instance I might try to hit a baby draw or fade, and keep the direction more or less on the target line, but I'm mostly concerned about shape and distance.  With the hybrid, I still practice more like I used to overall.  I care about accuracy, but mostly I'm just trying to hit it as hard as I can while making good contact.  Basically maximizing distance.  But even as a pre-round warm up, I'll rarely hit the same club more than 3 times in a row.


Titleist 913D2

Ping G2 3W

Ping G2 3H 18*, 4H 22*

Mizuno JPX900

Cleveland CBX 56, 60

Odyssey White Hot RX #2

Snell MTBX

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4 hours ago, juspoole said:

Congratulations on breaking 90!  Hopefully it's just the first of many times this year.  

My biggest hurdle was breaking 80 consistently and what changed for me was managing misses and/or playing with what I had that day.   IE typcially i fade the ball but that day I am pulling everything.  I wouldn't fight it, but played with it and picked a small target and if my miss happened, course management was more in play so I wouldn't be in a place where the big number could happen.

Secondly, being able to get up and down more frequently from 100 yards and in is huge.  Or have a goal of getting up and down from 100 yards 20% of the time for a first goal.

My miss with wedges and irons tends to be left.  I definitely have been aiming for right-center of greens, which as been working out pretty well.  

2nd and approach shots have typically been my weakness, though I think I could simplify that by saying contact has traditionally been my weakness.  The last three rounds I played, I had one day where I was still adjusting to a new driver, but other than that, approach and 2nd shots were my strength.  I really don't think I could have struck the ball much better.  If anything, to score better I'll need to reduce three putts.  But right now my focus will definitely just be trying to keep the momentum going on my ball striking.  If I keep playing this well, I think it will encourage me to get out a lot more than I usually do.


Titleist 913D2

Ping G2 3W

Ping G2 3H 18*, 4H 22*

Mizuno JPX900

Cleveland CBX 56, 60

Odyssey White Hot RX #2

Snell MTBX

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Exciting. Keep working on your game and sub 90 will be your normal. Seems like once I broke 90 I got more serious and really started playing safer/smarter golf. Minimizing the big mistakes. Not trying to do things that I knew were low percentage. Choking down on the driver and just getting balls out in the fairway. And very quickly, I found it hard to shoot over 90. Every round starting being 82-89. Now my focus is on 80. I have broken it many times, but would like that to be my "bad round." Right now the "bad round" is 85. Always progress. Let's keep it going.   

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  • Driver: :ping-small: G410 Plus 9*, Tensei Orange 60X
  • Hybrids::adams-small:  Super XTD 17* Hybrid Fubuki AX:callaway-small:,  Apex 20* Hybrid, AD-DI 85S
  • Irons: :srixon-small: U85 4I AD DI 95S, Z585 5-6, Z785 7-PW, Modus 120s
  • Wedges: :ping-small:: Glide 3.0 52, Modus 120x:taylormade-small:, Hi Toe 56 & 60, Modus 120x
  • Putter: :EVNROLL:  ER3 @ 33"
  • RH in Phoenix, AZ

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14 minutes ago, scooterhd2 said:

Exciting. Keep working on your game and sub 90 will be your normal. Seems like once I broke 90 I got more serious and really started playing safer/smarter golf. Minimizing the big mistakes. Not trying to do things that I knew were low percentage. Choking down on the driver and just getting balls out in the fairway. And very quickly, I found it hard to shoot over 90. Every round starting being 82-89. Now my focus is on 80. I have broken it many times, but would like that to be my "bad round." Right now the "bad round" is 85. Always progress. Let's keep it going.   

I've been struggling for a long time, so I really really hope I can keep it going.  

I'm definitely playing smarter.  When decent contact eluded me, it was hard not to just hit whatever club could maybe get me near the green.  Before this season, which has been obviously limited, I never tried to play to a specific distance.  Now I've been trying to leave myself 100-80 in where I can, and it's made a huge difference now that I can actually stick greens with decent contact from a more reliable swing.


Titleist 913D2

Ping G2 3W

Ping G2 3H 18*, 4H 22*

Mizuno JPX900

Cleveland CBX 56, 60

Odyssey White Hot RX #2

Snell MTBX

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44 minutes ago, bonvivantva said:

I've been struggling for a long time, so I really really hope I can keep it going.  

I'm definitely playing smarter.  When decent contact eluded me, it was hard not to just hit whatever club could maybe get me near the green.  Before this season, which has been obviously limited, I never tried to play to a specific distance.  Now I've been trying to leave myself 100-80 in where I can, and it's made a huge difference now that I can actually stick greens with decent contact from a more reliable swing.

These thoughts are crucial. I found myself always trying to play the perfect shot. I was out there shooting 90-100 anyway and blow up holes seemed bound to happen, so why not try to hit a few memorable shots. Let's go for birdie. Let's aim right at the flag. Let's try to carry the water or hit driver off every tee box.

Once I broke 90, I was like oh I actually can do this. Then I started playing like a caddy was giving me direction. Sounds crazy, but I would take out loud to myself about my club selection and what shot I was trying to hit, like I had to convince someone it was the right play. Started aiming to the fat part of the green. Started thinking about approach shots as you mentioned. Instead of trying to nuke a 3 wood from a bad lie, I'd just hit 6 iron and give myself an 80 yard 3rd shot on a par 5. Aim for middle green, 2 putt and the hole is a success. I started hitting a 4 iron off the tee on shorter holes with tighter fairways or where bunkers would come into play with the driver. And really focused on limiting damage from bad shots and not letting one lead to another. Not letting bogeys turn into doubles or triples. Just let alone will keep you under 90.  

 

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  • Driver: :ping-small: G410 Plus 9*, Tensei Orange 60X
  • Hybrids::adams-small:  Super XTD 17* Hybrid Fubuki AX:callaway-small:,  Apex 20* Hybrid, AD-DI 85S
  • Irons: :srixon-small: U85 4I AD DI 95S, Z585 5-6, Z785 7-PW, Modus 120s
  • Wedges: :ping-small:: Glide 3.0 52, Modus 120x:taylormade-small:, Hi Toe 56 & 60, Modus 120x
  • Putter: :EVNROLL:  ER3 @ 33"
  • RH in Phoenix, AZ

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