Originally Posted by dbuck
I am basically a bogey golfer. I have been playing golf for around 40 years, so I will impart some "wisdom", or at least what I think I have learned.
If you haven't done so, take a lesson. There have been many self taught golfers, but many times what you think you are doing and what you are really doing are two different things. Golf is a difficult game, and it is harder if you aren't grounded in the fundamentals.
Practice with a purpose. As others have said, loosen up and work on things on the range, and try to not do that when you are playing.
Clubs are a factor, and I believe you generally can play better with better clubs and clubs that fit you, but that doesn't necessarily mean new clubs.
Also as others have said, plan a strategy that works to your strengths and stick with it. If you see things that you could do better, then work on those on the range/short game area. Try not to make major changes mid round--as Sam Snead said, "you gotta dance with who you brung".
This is a wonderful thread. dbuck has a number of great points for bogey golfers, and is well worth reading. Even though I am not currently a 16+ handicap golfer, I started there almost 40 years ago, and was able to get into single digits and stay there, (currently a 9). So, here is a brief summary of my journey...
From my teen years until my mid-20's I was a solid bogey golfer, a 15-18 handicap. So, while I was still single and living at home with my parents, I invested one month of my salary and signed up for a Golf Digest school. Here I was given the basic fundamentals to develop a repeating swing that would produce a decent distance off the tee and a consistent distance with my irons. I practiced religiously, either in my back yard or at a driving range, and then took it to the course with my goal being consistency,
After getting married, my wife's grandfather gave me the best advice I ever received, "Go out in the back yard and chip balls into a laundry basket." By working on my short game, I have been able to avoid the double and triple bogies that plague the higher handicapper. I also recommend Dave Pelz's "Short Game Bible" to help with shots from 100 yards and closer to the green. With the loss of distance as I approach my mid-60's, a strong short game has helped me keep my handicap at single digits.
Finally, Dave Pelz did a study on the percentage of putts made on the PGA tour: 3 Feet: 83%; 6 Feet: 55%; 10 Feet: 33%; 15 Feet: 17%; 25 Feet: 10%. With this in mind, it goes to reason that the average golfer makes an even lower percentage of putts than a PGA pro. So, for me, on any putt longer than 10 feet my goal is to see how close I can roll the putt to the hole. Sometimes the ball will even fall in the cup, but more times than not, I have a tap-in and avoided the dreaded three putt.
dbuck's point about clubs is valid. Fitted clubs are preferable to non-fitted. I am 6'3" and play irons that are one inch longer than standard. Also, for me, a brand name golf club is preferable to generic clubs. I have bought a number of brand name golf clubs off of eBay at very reasonable prices. These clubs are two or three years old, but are just as good as the newer ones. I currently have two different sets of clubs that I use, a "Summer Bag" and a "Winter Bag." (See my signature for makes and models.) So, if you have the resources, having a few extra clubs in the basement can add to the enjoyment of the game.
So there it is, my tips for moving from a bogey golfer to single digits, and staying there:
#1 - Take lessons and develop a golf swing under the direction of a golf professional
#2 - Work on your short game to avoid the double and triple bogeys
#3 - Lag any putt over 10 feet to avoid three putts
#4 - Find clubs that are a good fit for you
I can honestly say that in my later years I only get to the range about 5 to 10 times per summer, but the well founded fundamentals and personal strategies that I have developed over the years have kept me a happy golfer. Just remember: golf is a journey, not a destination. I love this game!