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So close to dropping my handicap

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

So close that I can smell it!


Okay so my index is 21.3. My last ten or so rounds are consistently in the 90's. The problem is that I know my game is that of a 12-15 handicapper. I keep having 1-2 meltdowns per nine that are keeping me from my goal. Case in point, played a quick nine after work yesterday, went 3 over through 6 holes and 5 over on two (a double and triple). The pattern repeats its self over 18 as well. I shot a 92 the other day with two 8's on the scorecard! So frustrating yet at the same time I am happy knowing that my game overall has improved leaps and bounds this season. At my previous best I got my number down to a 12 so I know I have the potential. Also I don't obsess over my score when playing, in fact I don't even like to know what I shot at the turn. Any tips on how to help get over the occasional bad hole or rather avoid it so I can shoot the score that my game exhibits which I have been told is that of a solid mid-eighties shooter?

post #2 of 12

My problem is that if I shoot bad on the front I'll shoot better on the back or the other way good on the front and bad on the back. I can't get two 9's together that I do consistent. I had a 52 and a 40 on the same round.... Granted there was some rain shortly after starting the front and ended shortly after the turn so it was a factor but still, 12 shot swing from front to back is stupid.

post #3 of 12

I reckon a main difference between a 20 handicap and a 15 handicap could be the number of melt-down holes. Think about your previous few rounds and try to figure out what caused the melt-downs. Is there a pattern?


For example, I naturally draw the ball on a course where most of the OBs are on the left. Occasionally I hit a hook off the tee which, if done on one of these holes, causes a card-wrecker. I worked like crazy to reduce those hooks and my scores are now much better.


Also, I try to play smart: If I'm not hitting the ball too well and I reach one of those "OB Left" holes, I leave the driver in the bag and hit a hybrid. 220yds for one is much better for my card than 260 yds for three.

post #4 of 12

What VectorZero said.  What's causing the meltdowns?  Is it mostly OB off the tee?  Jail off the trees followed by missed hero shot, then pitch out, then not up and down from 100+?  Or are you messing up the other end, getting around the green in 2 (or 1 or 3 on par 3s and 5s) then blading a chip through the green, not getting close on the 2nd, then 3 putting?


For an example of learning to avoid the blow up holes, mine tend to be caused by bad tee shots.  My big miss with the driver tends to be a big push fade/slice.  Things that have helped me reduce them are:


1)  Hitting less club off the tee.  I'm pretty long so this is easier.  But I still had to get over feeling like if I could hit driver/SW into a par 4 with a good tee shot then I should obviously hit driver off the tee.  On that same hole I can hit 3i and have a 7i or 8i into the green.  With the 3i there's a huge range of misses that still end up in the fairway or rough or at least if I'm in the trees are close enough to the edge that I have a decent punch out to a spot where I have a 30-40 yard chance at up and down for par, but where those same misses with the driver would have me totally in jail or OB or whatever.


2) Feel out your swing on a given day and set up accordingly.  If I'm on a 430 yard par 4, my only options really are 3w or driver.  Some days the 3w feels better, others the driver feels better.  Hit the one that feels better.  Also, if I've been hitting bigger fades/slices than on a solid day, aim all the way at the left edge of the fairway instead of mid-left.


3) This is pretty stock advice, but don't play low percentage shots out of jail.  And this doesn't just mean don't attempt the ridiculous, tiny percentage superhero shot.  It also means don't hit the shot you're fairly sure will work out okay but has a not super low chance of banking off a tree and maybe putting your right back in jail 20 yards closer.  I'm pretty good with the punch from all my experience pushing the tee shot right into the trees.  Often times I'll have something like four options: (i) totally perpendicular pitch out I'm positive I can get in the fairway, (ii) punch that gets me to ~80-120 yards that I'll only mess up if I totally blow it, (iii) punch that could get me to 20-30 yards, maybe even on the green if I hit it just right, but where there's maybe a 20-30% chance I miss my window and hit a tree trunk or whatever, (iv) crazy hero shot, thread a controlled hard fade through a small window in the tree branches.


I got over going for (iv) a long time ago, but there was a long time where I would too often go for (iii) instead of (ii), or (ii) instead of (i) if even (ii) had the percentages I gave for (iii).  I'd think to myself, "Gotta play confident. I've got this shot and then have a good chance to save par here from 30 yards sitting 2."  That works often enough that it can keep sucking you in, but when you miss it too often leads to that 6 or 7 or 8.  Say you get a 7, then mix in just one other hole where you manage to hit two really poor shots from open looks on the same hole and suddenly you've got +6 or +8 just from two holes and you're killing your score for the day.

post #5 of 12

It's understandable wanting to lower your HI but I wouldn't rush it. I felt the same way the OP did and like them I was convinced I was a 12 trapped in 20 and would immediately trend down when I put the kibosh on that, I didn't. Problem is the blow up holes don't go away after you trend down. Less frequent sure but not gone. IMO HI and consistency go hand in hand and developing consistency means putting in the hard work that allows for a few mistakes because most days you play good enough to overcome it. The difference between what I do now and what I was doing at 20 is told in my bounce back stats and scoring average.


Take my word it only gets tougher and more frustrating as you trend down. The lower I get the higher my standards. Was a time I thought a double here and there wasn't that bad. Just two over par right? As you trend down the dispersion of scores gets tighter and when you put up that 6 on the par 4 first hole it gets in your head. You know you need to buckle down and play half decent golf the rest of that side to avoid something outside the average. In a nutshell it's not the double or worse here and there killing you it's the absence of pars on your card and the inability to bounce back with a birdie after a bogey or worse. My HI trended down incrementally as my scoring average and bounce backs went up. It's not an easy thing to do, currently I'm just 40.1% for par or better.

post #6 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thanks folks some good advice, most of my meltdowns are actually after the tee shot. My biggest weakness right now is my 100-40 yd game. I have issues getting consistent contact and distance with my sand wedge. Either I hit it fat and block it right 20-40% short or I will skull it over the green into trouble. I did it again yesterday, played 18 holes for a 94. If you can believe it that included 2 quads, a triple and a double. So I went 13 over thru just 4 holes and 9 over through the remaining 14. Missed two makable birdie putts in there as well. I just need to be more consistent and cut down on the blow ups...
post #7 of 12

Try a couple things:


1>  Don't keep score for a few rounds.  You'll be amazed how much more relaxed you'll be - and hitting better.  After you feel more relaxed at address,  keep score on holes 6-12 just as a sampler...then progress from there.  I know that the days I feel relaxed and less tempered I score better.


2>  Try a half PW instead of the normal wedges 40-100 yards in.  I will have days where I skull wedges and immediately make the decision to go to a half PW - almost chipping it in rather than trying for high spin. Again, it's about relaxing and being less tense.


Let us know how it goes!

post #8 of 12

I feel your pain!  I usually play just 9 holes but the last 4 times out I shot 8 over.  These rounds were at 2 golf courses I play a lot - I know them well and have par'd, at one time or another, every hole on them.  I've birdied a few as well but, for me, birdies are not something I really count on and usually involve some luck.  Anyway .  . . I *know* I could play either course and shoot 6 over . . . but something always happens to screw it up.  A really unlucky drive, stupid 3 putt, etc.


I am usually pretty good out of the sand . . . nearly always get out in 1 shot (maybe not close, though) . . but last time out I get to hole 8 -  a really short dog-leg par4 where I can usually cut the corner.  I'm 6 over at this point. Well . .I do cut the corner and end up in the greenside bunker.  "No problem", I thought . .since I always get out in 1 . .. except it took me 3 to get out!  I can't even remember the last time I took 3 shots to get out of a bunker.  So I make a triple and then birdie the 9th "tv style" (green in regulation, 5 foot putt).  It was kind of funny because instead of enjoying my lucky birdy . . it kind of made me more mad about my poor bunker shots on 8.  The moment after the birdy putt dropped, the voice in my head said "Way to go - you could've/should've been 5 over instead of 8".


It's crazy . .sometimes it's things I deserve . . like driving into the trees or OB . . and, if I should manage to escape those, then something random will get me.

post #9 of 12
Thread Starter 
Had a break through round of sorts today: 42-44, 86.

Just one really bad hole a triple. But also had three birdies and I don't think I had made more than one birdie in a round in a very long time.

Weird thing is it didn't feel like I even did anything spectacular.

Even the GHIN app was a bit confused, got a message saying this round is outside the golfers normal range...lol.

Hope this wasn't an anomaly, playing in a men's club tournament tomorrow. Can't wait to see what I shoot a day after the best round of the season. Not expecting another three birdie round but I would like to at least break ninety again...

P.S.: my GHIN has updated to a 19.9 this month so my goal of being a sub 18 handicap seems to be on track and within reach.
post #10 of 12

My advice:  Stop worrying about your handicap and focus on hitting the ball well consistently.  We have the same handicap, I used to focus obsessively on each revision, it doesn't help.


Yesterday I played and shot 97, I am not happy with a 97.  At the same time I'm working on ensuring I'm in the right posture at address, that's a weakness of mine.  When I'm not in the right posture I chunk a lot and lose distance on everything.  Well, despite the score yesterday I mostly did a good job of getting in the right posture, I made solid contact most of the day.  My misses were good misses (pushing right off the tee, but a push not slice and it still went 250 yards).  I shot 97 because I had some penalties at inopportune times and recovered poorly.  But my focus is on the posture and solid contact.  Those were mostly there yesterday, so despite the score I walked away mostly satisfied.  The scoring (and thus handicap) will come as I improve these fundamentals.  But scoring will not be there every round or improve linearly.


Just focus on one thing and be satisfied as it improves.  Handicap will follow.

post #11 of 12

just keep playing....it will come as long as you continue to improve.  If anyone knows about this it's me as I made it my goal in 2013 to get to single digits.  I started the season in March with a 15.5 handicap.  I am now at 8.3L.  At first it was slow improvement which was frustrating.  I felt like I was a lot better than my handicap and that it was not fair that I could shoot low scores but my hc would not drop as much as I felt it should: after all, a handicap is partly what you are capable of shooting.  If that's the case and I had shot a sub 10 index, then why was my handicap not close to below 10?  This made me very angry for a while.  Patience was/is a virtue that I struggle with and everyone that told me it would come in time was right.


blowup holes are blowup holes.  The only way to not have them is not to blow up.  Sounds stupid but it makes sense.....just keep playing and improving and things will take care of themselves.  I would have saved myself hours/days of worry/contemplation had I listened to others that were right instead of trying to think my way out of various issues like stopping blow up holes.  There was no magical advice that anyone on here gave me that changed anything right away.  The only thing that worked was improving my game to a point where the errors I used to make stopped happening.  Best of luck to you.

post #12 of 12

You maybe able to play like a 14 but just like my game, your "mental" HC is still at a 21. After my round Saturday I realized I know how to do everything right enough to hit good golf shots, the key is to get your mind out of it to let it happen. The more pressure the more screw ups. Relax and the scores will come down. You get close and the stress tightens your grip and makes your swing mistakes exaggerate, relax, take your time.

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