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Questions for low and high single digit handicappers


Syks7

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A lot of good advice. I'll add hitting fairways off the tee, in many cases that's not with driver. This goes along with hazard avoidance off the tee. I will hot a mid iron off the tee to avoid fairway bunkers if it will require a very good shot to avoid the bunkers. Same goes for any hazard off the tee box.

Know how long you hit your irons ON AVERAGE, not when you hit them flush.

Sometimes missing the GIR is better.

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48 minutes ago, JDHolmes said:

A lot of good advice. I'll add hitting fairways off the tee, in many cases that's not with driver. This goes along with hazard avoidance off the tee. I will hot a mid iron off the tee to avoid fairway bunkers if it will require a very good shot to avoid the bunkers. Same goes for any hazard off the tee box.

Know how long you hit your irons ON AVERAGE, not when you hit them flush.

Sometimes missing the GIR is better.

Sacrificing distance doesn’t always means scoring better and hitting a fairway as noted in a thread I started doesn’t nead to more GIR. 
 

Reducing the miss off the tee is a better goal than saying hit more fairways. Having easier to clubs into the green without having to punch out will lead to having a chance at better scores. 
 

Short game work to keep from having blow up holes is as if not more important 

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3 hours ago, RickyBobby_PR said:

Sacrificing distance doesn’t always means scoring better and hitting a fairway as noted in a thread I started doesn’t nead to more GIR. 
 

Reducing the miss off the tee is a better goal than saying hit more fairways. Having easier to clubs into the green without having to punch out will lead to having a chance at better scores. 
 

Short game work to keep from having blow up holes is as if not more important 

But strokes gained bro! /s

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On 9/21/2021 at 1:07 PM, Syks7 said:

Earlier this year I realized that this game was the only hobby/obsession I actually cared about. I decided, from that realization, that I was tired of being mediocre/ average at the game.  I started really trying to focus on specific aspects of my game, practice with purpose, and play by the rules.  It's been a rough transition but I feel like I'm trending in the right direction.  I have no illusions of getting to scratch but I think cracking into the single digits in the next couple of years and getting to a 5 after that is something that is attainable for me eventually.  I've felt like I'm on the edge of some good golf for a couple months now and I have some questions for those of you that have made the transition from mid to single digits and for those of you that have gotten to the lower half of single digits.

  • When you went from mid to single digits was it like an 'aha' moment where everything just clicked and you had a breakthrough or was it a slow and steady improvement over time?
  • What's a realistic timeline to go from my current 14.5 to a 9.9 if I'm playing 1-2 times a week and practicing at least once a week as well.  (I'm also finally going to get some lessons in the next couple months)
  • I've been hammering away at getting a better short game and learning course management.  Is there anything else I should specifically focus on?
  • What were some of the things that specifically helped you improve your game?
  • Are there some metrics that I should be aiming for in regards to GIR, FIR, putts?
  • Is there anything else you think would be helpful to me?

I'm an "almost" single digit capper at 9 and change, but I was a seven for a long time.

I've never practiced after April.

I never gapped my set for even yardages. I chose the clubs that I liked for specific shots and then filled in.

And I went from an eighteen to a seven essentially by not lifting my left heel anymore,

It took like two seasons once I straightened that out.

Don't expect any of these results, because I'm not offering them as an example.

I can't give a  single example of another player exactly like I am

because we're all different.  Each one of us.

That's the reality.  Not only do we have different levels of potential physically, but we all have different levels of commitment as well.

I was never super competitive.  I liked and continue to like social golf.  You could be outright driven.  I don't know.

Have fun and don't stress!

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Some really great advice here - some repetition here, but my 2c as a long time 5-8 hdcp, who has been as low as a 2. There was no aha to get there, but as many said, eliminating the big numbers and go get properly fit for your irons, it matters.

That said, even when I'm not hitting it well, I can usually guarantee a ceiling on my rounds in the mid 80's at worst because of a few things that I focus on:

  • wedges at LESS THAN a full swing - could I hit my PW 145? sure, but on the course I rarely hit it over 130 bc I find when I have smooth tempo & 90% effort on my PW-LW, I hit the green from on/off the fairway A LOT more and that is huge
  • short game/bunkers - you don't have to become Jordan Speith, but if you can always get it on the green in 1 shot, you'll avoid big numbers
    • my rounds usually go from high 70's to mid 80's depending on how I get off the tee that day, which comes and goes, but the short game keeps me from reaching the 90's 
  • stick to your shot shape unless you absolutely have no other choice - my best rounds come when I see that the shot requires a cut into that back pin and then ignore it and hit my standard draw into the middle of the green, trust is huge, and I trust my draw
  • course management (no stupid risks just because you hit a bad shot before this one)
  • having fun and not being too serious, laugh at your bad shots - I play a lot better when I have a cigar and enjoy the views. Even if I swear when I hit a bad shot, it bothers me for those few seconds and I move on.
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Great thread!

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1 hour ago, tony@CIC said:

Great thread!

 So much great info and tips in one spot, and a couple common answers about how people got there...  short game and staying out of trouble off the tee.

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You should be able to break into the single digits within 1 season.  I dropped about 10 strokes a year the first couple years I played until I got around 10.  I am currently a 7 and have been for awhile.  I don't practice much just play 1-2 time a week.

You need to keep tee shots in play and give yourself a shot at the green.  Approach shots need to hit the green or be reasonably close.  Chip shots to 6' or better.  Bunkers out the first time.  Putt with good speed control. (limit 3 putts)

When in trouble, get out first.  You can always stick it tight from the fairway or make a putt.

Almost nobody hits 3 wood well of the deck, even single digits.  Go with 5w, 7w, or a hybrid or whatever you can hit reliably. 

 

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There were no ah ha moments for me either, much like everyone else in the thread. I'll just repeat what others have said.

  • Minimise penalties off the tee. Just keep the ball in play.
  • Get better at 20-30 yard pitch shots as these will save shots when you just miss a green. I spent maybe an hour on the practice area hitting different lofted clubs to get a feel for how much each one runs out. Now when I miss a green, I'll pick a landing spot and based on that how much run out is needed and pick the club for that job.
  • Play smarter, accept the punch back into play instead of the hero shot and play for your bogey.
  • Play your shot shape on the day. Some days I've got the pulls going on, some I've got a draw, some a fade. Just accept your swing for that day and play it, don't try to fix it on the course.

Since driver is usually my best club/most confidence hitting in the bag I don't subscribe to the iron/hybrid off the tee for safety, I hit driver every opportunity I get. I can just as easily hit a 4 iron 30 yards right compared to my driver and if I thin one off the tee the driver is still leaving me a reasonable shot into a green.

Also, just hit shots you are comfortable with. I rarely hit my 3 wood off the deck into a par 5 as my course is pretty tight and there is a good chance bad things will happen. I'll hit a hybrid instead and play for that 30 yard pitch shot.

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I had an aha moment when I tested the Cleveland Launcher HB irons. The moment was when I realized I couldn't hit 4 or 5 irons consistently in a traditional Gi set. With the Launchers my gapping improved dramatically over 160 yards and instead of coming up short a bunch I was on or close to the greens helping me get up and down way more often. I went from around a 13 to a 9ish during the 6 or so weeks of forum testing. Got down to a 6.3 with that set but went to single length and my handicap is creeping back up for the same reasons mentioned above. 

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22 minutes ago, Wedgie said:

I had an aha moment when I tested the Cleveland Launcher HB irons. The moment was when I realized I couldn't hit 4 or 5 irons consistently in a traditional Gi set. With the Launchers my gapping improved dramatically over 160 yards and instead of coming up short a bunch I was on or close to the greens helping me get up and down way more often. I went from around a 13 to a 9ish during the 6 or so weeks of forum testing. Got down to a 6.3 with that set but went to single length and my handicap is creeping back up for the same reasons mentioned above. 

So this makes me ask - headed back to the Launchers, or sticking with the OLs to groove them?

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Just now, russtopherb said:

So this makes me ask - headed back to the Launchers, or sticking with the OLs to groove them?

Both! I picked up the new Launchers last Friday and the first ball I hit with them was on number 1 on Saturday. Round one was my best round in a month and my second round tied my low score for the year. Tomorrow I will be using the Cobra single lengths in the 8,9,PW and G wedge slots to do more flag hunting. The new Clevelands will round out the rest of the bag. I've been garage golfing all week on SkyTrak and haven't had any issue switching between the two but we will see what happens on the course. The Cleveland gapping is a little wonky for me in the shorter irons and I love the single length "short" irons so this may work.

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Less about aha moments and more about goals - once you break 90 you know how and you play that way.  Same with 80.  This is a fresh topic for me as I've been coaching my 14 yr old who just caught the bug.  I made mistake of getting him 2 lessons too early - so I had to strip him back down and start with basics.  He was so tense and tight after those lessons.  Here's some of what I've told him:

  • Keep it simple - don't try shots you have no business attempting.  It's a game of strategy and course management.  Par is the opponent.  
  • Avoid big numbers and 3-putts.  For the casual golfer, my grandfather would say your goal is a "5" on every hole (that's not a single digit capper per se, but good for beginners like my son).
  • Short game!  Spend more time practicing short game and getting it closer to hole.  Best place to shave strokes - 3 FT par putts go in more than 10 FT putts.  You only hit driver 10-14 times a round so don't spend a whole range session hitting it.  Start range session with shortest club.  I'm actually trying to work the 8-Iron around the greens into my game vs. chipping with SW. 
  • My biggest mistake is thinking too much over a shot - take one casual practice swing, eye target, step up and smash the back of the ball.
  • If in doubt, club up and choke down.  
  • Clubs.  Most say get fitted which is fine, but you can do research and find suitable forgiving irons, drivers, etc.  With the balls and drivers the last 10 years, hard to go too wrong. My son was using some of my old blue dots - then I measured him and realized the clubs may have been hurting him.  Found some orange dots and he immediately had better ball striking and flight.  And make sure shafts are right for you - I just demo'd a SIM 3W and I couldn't make contact with the low-mid trajectory shaft - but mid-high was awesome.
  • As for lessons - careful not to get too much instruction where you're thinking about too many mechanics and changing your swing a lot.  I grew up with very little, but learned the game with basic understanding of feet/alignment, head down/still, left arm straight, relax hands/wrists, slow takeaway.  Different for all, but when I start having an off day I try to get back to those fundamental things.

Dassit!

Edited by FairwayToHeaven
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  • 2 weeks later...

Lessons and Practise and Rounds. When I was on a low handicap I used to play 72 holes and hit 400+ balls a week. I had a lesson every 6-8 weeks for a year. It took me about 12 moths to go from 14 to 4. In that time my pro completely rebuilt my swing from the ground up. Then injury forced me to stop for 7 years and when you combine that with age and illness, today my swing is not even close to what it used to be.

So the simple answer is hard work.

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  • 2 months later...

I learned to just hit middle of the green and happily two putt. 
 

Pars beat a bogey trying to chase a birdie. 

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"C'mon be good"

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For me it was more focused practice instead of just hitting balls and hoping something clicks as well as playing proper length and flex of shafts which tightened my shot dispersion immensely.  

 

Also, I went from a cheap ordinary unbalanced putter to something that I actually liked and my 3 putts dropped in a huge fashion.  

 

Find a way to make par and avoid the big scores. 

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On 9/21/2021 at 1:07 PM, Syks7 said:

Earlier this year I realized that this game was the only hobby/obsession I actually cared about. I decided, from that realization, that I was tired of being mediocre/ average at the game.  I started really trying to focus on specific aspects of my game, practice with purpose, and play by the rules.  It's been a rough transition but I feel like I'm trending in the right direction.  I have no illusions of getting to scratch but I think cracking into the single digits in the next couple of years and getting to a 5 after that is something that is attainable for me eventually.  I've felt like I'm on the edge of some good golf for a couple months now and I have some questions for those of you that have made the transition from mid to single digits and for those of you that have gotten to the lower half of single digits.

  • When you went from mid to single digits was it like an 'aha' moment where everything just clicked and you had a breakthrough or was it a slow and steady improvement over time?
  • What's a realistic timeline to go from my current 14.5 to a 9.9 if I'm playing 1-2 times a week and practicing at least once a week as well.  (I'm also finally going to get some lessons in the next couple months)
  • I've been hammering away at getting a better short game and learning course management.  Is there anything else I should specifically focus on?
  • What were some of the things that specifically helped you improve your game?
  • Are there some metrics that I should be aiming for in regards to GIR, FIR, putts?
  • Is there anything else you think would be helpful to me?

The biggest change in your game to reach that goal is to take shots from 100 yards in and drastically improve.  Any time you have a wedge in your hand, you have to be hitting that thing right at the hold or within a comfortable range to have a chance at birdie.  However, the key is to improve your course management from that range in.  I find, at least it's been true in my game, that good low handicap to scratch players typically are VERY strong from that distance in and on the green.  You save shots, you don't compound any issues you might have had off the tee and or hitting out of trouble, and overall you gain confidence in your ability to always have a shot at Par.  

For me, the biggest transition from mid handicap to lower handicap was focusing on course management and improving my abilities from that distance.  I still hit a LOT of balls and work on every club in the bag.  BUT, if I have a wedge in my hands from a 100 in or on the green, it's inexcusable to cause myself extra strokes by not doing the right things.  

I would say that if you're serious about improvement invest in one of those various types of shot monitoring devices for your grips / clubs.  There are so many out there, but to understand your misses and focusing on consistency you'll see vast improvements.  If you find you're miss is always to the right of the fairway or green, then you play for that.  Knowing your misses is far more important that knowing you have the ability to hit perfect shots.  

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Eliminating penalty strokes, double chips, and 3 putts will get you to a single digit without a swing change. 
 

if you are going to implement a swing change, be realistic about how long it will take to ingrain and what you can reasonably expect to score while going thru it: last season was a “lost” season where I felt like I didn’t improve as I was going thru a grip and swing change. I played 6 strokes worse for about the 1st month. But it’s all worth it in the end, I think. Good luck!

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0CDA9F85-FD71-4495-9BD9-CF9DB38DF4E5.png

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Old thread, but still instructive IMO. Maybe the best approach is for each of us individually to look and see how our game/stats differs from lower HI players, and focus on that/those areas.

https://mygolfspy.com/study-overall-golfer-performance-by-handicap/

 

Screen Shot 2022-01-07 at 3.23.29 PM.png

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I don’t get a ton of practice time, but when I do I spend 80% on short game. Course management and greens in regulation are the two things I excel at on the course. I’ve been playing golf since I was 7 years old so a lot of the mechanics are just ingrained in me, but hitting greens in regulation and having a short game when you don’t are what I find the most important. 

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4-6 Irons: Mizuno MP18 SC MMC
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