It's my fifth year playing golf and I'm ready for the season to begin. Currently, I have only one score in the 80s (an 84 at Dunwoodie Golf Course). Usually, I miss that "89" by a shot or two, scoring 90-92 regularly. I believe this is a mental block, so my goal, this season, is to score in the 80s every time.
From my observations at the local publinks, I realize that most golfers struggle to break 100, let alone 90! Statistics from the USGA show that the average male golfer's handicap is 16.2 and the average female golfer's handicap is 29. Fifteen years ago, handicaps were exactly the same! American golfers have not gotten any better! In spite of all of the advances in golf equipment, golf scores have not improved… so is it the equipment or is it the golfer?
Most of the golfers I see are hackers who tell me they rarely practice at a range. These are usually the same inconsiderate golfers who don't replace their divots or fix their ball marks on the green. How can anyone improve their game if they don't bother to practice or learn the basics?
Practice makes perfect: learn by doing. Go to the practice range and use all of your clubs. Start with the sand wedge and work your way up to the driver, teeing it up at the height you will use on the course. It should be easy for the average golfer to hit a ball off of a tee. The golf ball isn't sitting in deep grass or in the sand, it's teed up! The golfers who whiff their shots the most often take out their oversized driver and swing away as hard as they can. It's funny watching these "golfers" swing so hard that they not only miss the ball entirely, but almost come out of their shoes trying to make contact. I try not to snicker, but maybe a 3-wood would be a better choice?
Poor club selection usually lands the golf ball short of the green. Bad shots are compounded by equally poor recovery shots. Taking three putts becomes all too common.
I have put together a few basics for consistently breaking 100 and 90. I intend to put these ideas to good use in my own game, hoping that my handicap will reflect the changes I'm making.
- Improve course management. Aim your shots away from trouble.
- Consider where the ball will land so that your NEXT shot will have a good look at the green
- Get the ball back in play before trying to "go for the green."
- Your practice time at the range should focus on shots that get you out of trouble
- Sand saves, lob wedge shots and chipping can drop your score like a lead balloon.
- Practice your putting as often as you practice using your driver. More shots are given up on the putting green that anywhere else on the course. Drive for show, putt for dough!
- Visualize success. Remember past successes. "I know I can hit that 5 iron out from under the trees and get it back in play" (and when I used that 5 iron in the past, the results were terrific!)
Thinking about shot and club selection during a round of golf is as important as going on "autopilot" when you pull the trigger. As the golf season gets into full swing, picture your shots and practice the shorter wedge shots to naturally lower your scores on the golf course.