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What Single Thing Made the Biggest Drop in Your Handicap?


Val Raj

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The biggest improvement for me was upgrading my equipment I guess.

I started playing with second hand well used clubs and random balls, but when I bought my first 'proper set' of clubs (new irons, driver, hybrid and putter) and used a pro V1 for the first time ever for a full round I bettered my best round score by 2 shots (that round was +15) despite feeling like I could have probably done better still.

Ok it might not have been a massive improvement, but it felt big for me at the time and in playing my first round about 2 months ago for maybe 2-3 years I scored my best score ever of +12, which the back 9 was actually +2!

I'd imagine proper coaching (self taught except my friends dad starting me off) will benefit me more now, however don't have the time to commit to playing weekly due to having young kids so that will have to wait for the time being, but I think getting older and wiser not trying to absolutely twat every drive helped me reach my best score despite a rusty start.

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I don’t think I’ve ever had a significant drop in my index. I’ve progressively dropped one or two strokes through the season over time and keep building on it year after year, for the most part. Kind of leveled out in the last year or so, but I feel it’s starting to move downwards again.

Getting good instruction is the key to my improvement. I don’t have the talent to be good at this game naturally.

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2 minutes ago, woodzie264 said:

LSW and it’s principles 

This is what makes the biggest difference for me when I haven't been out playing as often as I'd like to. Proper course management eliminates blowup holes because I'm accounting for the increased likelihood of specific mistakes that would otherwise dramatically inflate my score.

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I've gotten to where I am through self-teaching and lots of play and practice. For the short game, I used to live in an apartment complex in LA that had turf courtyards set up so you could safely hit ~40 yard pitches. For a year or two I took 5 balls and my 60˚ out nightly. Made me a sniper around the green, which made up a lot for my sometimes wild misses and bad putting. More recently I got fit for an Edel putter and went from -3 strokes gained to -1 strokes gained per round on the green! My point is, as an 18, your short game is probably bad. So while it's not the most valuable golf skill it's quite easy to learn to be at least serviceable around the green and out of the sand and to reduce 3-putts and save a decent number of strokes quickly.

But I plateaued for years bouncing between 8 and 11 depending on how much I was playing. Last summer I finally went all in on (video) lessons, practicing a ton with the net in the yard with tons of filming. When I went back to the course this year my scores went up, way up for a bit. But now the changes have settled in and I'm back to where I was before with my handicap with a solid downward trajectory.

Get lessons and practice!

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First: Learning putting; took me from three-putting most of the holes to less than half of the holes.

Second: Applying my theoretical knowledge of yardage per club into actual target practice and play, especially with L, G, P wedges.

Third: Reducing my driver backswing. Lost some distance and gained more fairway percentage.

Fourth: Took lessons that helped improve my swing mechanics - resulting in significant improvement of accuracy and yardage with my long irons.

Putting is still my biggest weakness.

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This summer I dropped from a 19 to a 14 by:

1) Having opportunities to play way more than usual.

2) Using The Grint to identify my weakness based on data (approach shots) and make a specific goal (hit more GIR)

3) Use Top Tracer range to get my REAL yardages and accept that I’m a short hitter 

4) Replace 5i with 5 hybrid


I went from averaging only 2 GIR a round to averaging 5. Might not seem like a huge differences but my misses were way closer and easier up and downs too.

 

Now that I made a weakness a strength, my short game that was “good for a bogey golfer” will not be good enough to become a single digit so more chipping and putting practice will be in order.
 

Also, as a short hitter, I need all the distance I can get and a properly fit driver might be the play….I guess a lesson could help too.

 

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What Single Thing Made the Biggest Drop in Your Handicap?

Shooting lower scores! 😝

For me it was getting some help with my swing and then hitting LOTS AND LOTS of golf balls. From age 23ish-27ish I hit thousands of golf balls and played hundreds of rounds of golf. To this day I still hit a ton of balls and play a lot, but nothing like those 4-5 years. I basically lived at the golf course.

Basically, you have to get good control of your ball striking to be a good player. All the short game and putting proponents out there don't know what they are talking about. You can practice your chipping and putting 'till the cows come home, but if you can't strike it well you will forever be a hack. 

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The biggest drop (30+  years) has been this year.  My pro corrected a big flaw where I was using my arms and wrists too much and it made me very inconsistent.  Setup, ball position, posture etc. were all good, but he took that deliberate action out and I dropped from 19 to 12.  In about three months.

It's probably the most significant lesson I ever had.   I wasn't playing much for a couple of years and really lost the feel of how my swing should be.

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The single largest improvement to my game was the result of learning the single plane swing. This was years ago, back when Natural Golf was the thing, however I've been using the principles ever since. Maybe next year for my 75th I'll go to one of Todd Graves schools. 

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My strokes within120 yards  have dropped 1.26 per round since I changed my wedges from Vokeys to Cleveland RTX's. They have more consistent spin on all shots.

 

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30 minutes ago, No Mulligans said:

Key #1 Steady Head.

Have to second that one....

Also I have worked hard to get weight on the front foot (have said too many times how this has been my nemesis as I lost all toes and skin on my left foot in a 2016 motorcycle wreck, there is grafted "paper thin" skin there now, so breakdowns can happen quickly).  To help with that I have worked hard on better swing mechanics and worked to apply the principles of LSW

One thing is sure, the more GIR's you have the lower the score will typically be.  Also nGIR's are key as well, which means I spend a lot of time in the backyard working on three shot types - a wedge pitch shot, an iron bump and run and putter off the fringe.   

Started the season somewhere just over 20 and per the latest from my Garmin Approach S20, it is just over 16.   

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