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Improvement tips for a duffer


Peter-T

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Hi,

I have been out of the game for some time.  I recently retired and have been playing more.  I took a lesson mid-summer and made some adjustments.  I am just inconsistent and need to practice more.  Any suggestions on how to improve my overall game besides playing on a course? 

When at the range, is it better to work on my swing with a variety of clubs or try to master one part of the game at a time?  I know all aspects are important but fixing one thing at a time should still improve my overall performance.  For example, on average I shoot an 8 on medium length par 4.  Maybe 4 to get on and 4 putt.  Where is the best place to try and cut out a stroke?  Getting more distance off the tee, improving the fairway shots, working around the green, putting?  I guess my question is, where should I spend the bulk of my time when practicing?

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First thing to do is to determine where the issues lie and for that you really need to get more lessons. In general I would recommend 2-3 lessons over a 8-12 week period. Once you have had the first lesson hopefully the pro will give you some points or drills to work on which you can do at the range and on course. 

My wife for example ended up having 5 lessons over 4 month. In the first the pro identified the issues in her swing and started the process to resolve them, the over the next two lessons he slowly added more drills till she had a reasonable swing. Lesson 4 was around putting, and lesson 5 was similar to lesson 1  where he reviewed her new swing and provided feedback on what to do next. She now get a lesson when she feels she is slipping back or when she identifies an area that needs improving.   

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It's always tough for anyone to give advice especially to a new member. We don't  know where you live, what your average score is, where you struggle the most. Based on your example of making an 8 on a par 4 and 4 of those strokes are putting that is where I would suggest you start.

If you live in a warmer climate where you can still get out and play. Go to the practice green. Pick a hole and start at 2 feet away. Once you can 2 putt for the most part keep moving back until you get to about 12 feet. Then you can move on to chipping, then pitching. The short game will save you the most strokes. Then over time keep working yourself backwards through the clubs until you reach the driver.

If you live in a colder climate you can still work on your putting in the house over the winter. You can pick up an 8 or 10 foot practice putting mat between $50 and $100. Makes a good Christmas present for someone to give you.

Good luck on your journey and welcome aboard and back to the game.

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Lot to digest and there’s a lot that cause your score on a medium length par 4. Fixing your swing will help reduce some of the strokes that take you 4 to get on. Working on short game will help get the ball closer to the hole and reduce the number of putts. Working on putting will also help reduce the number of putts.

As for the range there are lots of ways to skin a cat. In general you should be spent working on drills and some working on regular golf shots along with short game.

The question is where to start. IMO I would go back to the drills and things your instructor gave you and work on those in the same way he/she explained. I would also go back to that instructor for more lessons. Let them develop a practice plan for you and how often you should come back for lessons. If you don’t want to use that instructor then find another in your area or online. What I wouldn’t do is try to learn the swing on your own via swing thoughts and drills from random people on the internet that haven’t seen your swing.

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If you are 4 putting regularly, it's almost a guarantee that your speed is terrible. My 2 favorite drills with my students were always these:

1. Start at any distance you want from the edge of the green. Try to hit a ball halfway to the edge. Hit another just a little farther. Then another. See how many you can fit between the first and the edge of the green never leaving one short of the last. Start over from a different distance...

2. Start this drill from a variety of distances from the hole. Use three balls.  Try to hit the first putt a little to too hard (maybe three feet past). Try to leave the second the same distance short. Now hit the third the correct distance. When you get on the course, use this as your routine before stepping up to the ball. One or two strokes a little too hard. One or two a little too soft, one or two just right, then step in and hit the putt. (Please do this quickly on the course, you're not the only one out there.)

These drills worked the best for my students who struggled with their putting, and they have the added advantage of working just as well for chipping practice. If you show up for tee times just 15 or 20 minutes earlier, you should see rapid improvement even if that's the only time you work on them. 

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14 hours ago, Peter-T said:

Hi,

I have been out of the game for some time.  I recently retired and have been playing more.  I took a lesson mid-summer and made some adjustments.  I am just inconsistent and need to practice more.  Any suggestions on how to improve my overall game besides playing on a course? 

When at the range, is it better to work on my swing with a variety of clubs or try to master one part of the game at a time?  I know all aspects are important but fixing one thing at a time should still improve my overall performance.  For example, on average I shoot an 8 on medium length par 4.  Maybe 4 to get on and 4 putt.  Where is the best place to try and cut out a stroke?  Getting more distance off the tee, improving the fairway shots, working around the green, putting?  I guess my question is, where should I spend the bulk of my time when practicing?

Congratulations on retirement and welcome to the forum!  My suggestion would be to find a good teaching pro in your area and take a series of well spaced lessons.  Establishing good swing fundamentals/correcting bad ones will pay dividends in both scoring and overall enjoyment of the game. To simply keep practicing bad swing mechanics just perpetuates poor ball flight.  The other advantage of the lessons is that most pros will see any shortcomings in your clubs and suggest changes if needed.

Good luck with the journey and, above all else, enjoy the game.

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Figure out the club that produces a 150 yard shot. Hopefully this is relatively straight and begin using this shot off the tee and on approaches. You can now reach any par 4 in 3 (or possibly 2) instead of 4. If you can figure out a shot that goes 200 yards and stays in play you can now reach all par 4s in 2. This doesn't need to be driver. 

Considering you are chipping to get on most greens a 4 putt shouldn't happen. As mentioned above, putting and chipping are 2 big areas you can learn about online and practice without a coach. It's easy enough to hit 5 yard chips on some carpet in the house to work on contact. Google or youtube will give you endless putting drills for speed. You just need to figure out which you can do based on available practice facilities. 

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Start playing consistently and make notes of the areas you want to improve on. The more times the errors occur tally them up. It gives you a good idea of what is costing you the most strokes. Focus on the biggest areas first then progress down the list. If you have an area you’re not able to fix in your own look for a local instructor if it’s an option. Play the easiest sets of tee to make the game easier. Work back over time. Get your feet underneath you before you look for a challenge 

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As others have stated, putting seems to be a great starting point with 4 putts. 
 

a few putting drills that helped me

1. I started using a line on anything inside of 10 feet. When I practice at home I always use a line and you get instant feedback if you hit a true end over end putt. This helped me reduce my putts per round average. 
2. Putting Mat with different lengths and take 25-50 putts a day to get a feel for it 


something else that has helped is tracking stats to see where there are opportunities for improvement 

1. Tee shot in play with a clear shot for next shot 

2. 2 chips to get on green

3. 3 putts or putts per hole 

4. If duffing, maybe write down club or distance causing a duff to find if any trends 

 

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On 11/24/2021 at 7:04 PM, Peter-T said:

I have been out of the game for some time.  I recently retired and have been playing more.  I took a lesson mid-summer and made some adjustments.  I am just inconsistent and need to practice more.  Any suggestions on how to improve my overall game besides playing on a course? 

Complete mishits and toppers will hopefully go away relatively quickly, with just playing rounds.  After those are gone then chipping and putting become paramount in my opinion.  Putts and chips if you keep track of it will occupy about 30-45 percent of your score( and there will be many give aways in there).  Being able to chip the ball from just off the green to within guaranteed two putt distance is critical.  Initially 8-15 feet is good, then as you practice then you look to get it to one putt distance once in a while (inside 5 feet).  The key is to practice chipping a lot.  First to eliminate skulls, and complete duffs.  Then to gain control and get it closer and closer. 

Practice distance control on putts, to avoid 3 putting at all costs.  And remember the pros are 50/50 from 8 feet.  So on any putts  over 8 feet, you or any of us shouldn't ever really expect to make them, so don't beat yourself up over not making putts over 8 feet, mainly be thinking don't 3 putt, a 8+ foot putt that goes in is just a bonus.  Just don't give away strokes by 3 putting.  Practice a lot of 4,5,6, and 7 footers.  These are distances where you can practice and expect to make one or two more a round. 

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