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How did you get to a single digit handicap?

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In all seriousness, before my shoulder injury I was around an 8 and got there by improving 150 and in drastically. Playing nothing but a par 3 course all summer and working on shortgame for 3 months
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I've been playing irregularly for many years. I never got my index below 10. This last year I took it up again at 54 years old. I played for awhile and took 1 or 2 lessons. Mostly I practiced a lot

If I were to over-simplify things, I would say that you are only as good as your misses. Let's face it, everyone hits bad shots, but where you miss and how you manage your misses is the difference bet

My tips are as follows: 1. Spend plenty of time on irons 6-9. Ball striking/solid approach shots will shed strokes quickly. 2. Play for the middle of the green. Don't go for the pins tha

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I think where you live factors into this as well. I cannot play (or don't wish to torture myself in cold weather) between November and March, which is pretty much 1/2 the year. So if I've been playing for 6 years, I've really been playing for 3. Throw in lack of access to practice facilities and bad ones at that and it takes longer to get better.
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If I were to over-simplify things, I would say that you are only as good as your misses. Let's face it, everyone hits bad shots, but where you miss and how you manage your misses is the difference between playing well and paying out at the end of the day.

Tiger can still win with his "C" game. Look at the Players Championship. Clearly he was not on his game, yet he managed his misses and still finished 8th. Everyone in the media has been asking what's wrong with Tiger, but in 6 starts, he has 5 top tens and a victory! We are so used to him dominating events, that when he plays mediocre golf it begs an excuse.

I've said this over and over to people. Some believe it and others don't, but the facts speak for themselves. The fastest way to lower one's handicap is by getting up and down and making more putts. If you have only an hour a week to practice your game, spend 30 minutes chipping and 30 minutes putting.

The average golfer shoots around 100. For most golfers, 65% of your shots will be within 125 yards of the green. Go ahead, add it up. You can pound drivers all day on the range, but on the course you can only hit 14 drives. Conversely, the average golfer will average 32 to 40 putts per round, and hit 6 to 8 greens at best. That means on 10 to 12 holes you'll be chipping. So, lets say you are an average golfer having a pretty good day and hit 8 greens and have 36 putts. That's 46 shots on or around the greens. Almost half your score, and that doesn't even factor in the full or half swings from 125 to the green.

Short game people. Practice your short game!
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Most 18 handicappers could become 9 handicappers inside of a month if they work on:

Absolutely agree with the above. Chipping and pitching have torn strokes off my game. Instead of chip, chip put put- every few holes, its ptich, putt putt, or chip- put. Of course, sometimes its muligan, muligan, drop drop, slice, pull, bunker, putt, putt, for PAR. :)
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...Learn to develop your own personal FEEL for the short game. It's boring and not as fun as taking it deep, but if you develop feel you'll be happier in the long run....

Boring? I think it's way more fun for several reasons: 1. You have an actual, well-defined target 2. You can measure your results more accurately 3. You can practice even if your back hurts 4. You only need 1 ball
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I'm going to respectfully disagree with the emphasis put on the short game for the non single digit handicapper, and even more so for the really high handicapper. Man, I know I'm going to get torched for this, and I am in no way stating this as a fact(just from my own experience), but becoming a better iron player knocked about 8 strokes off my game in 2 years, also getting a little more consistent off the tee and developing a right-to-left ball flight with my driver. All this time I never practiced short game, ever.

I completely agree with you. When I was around 25 handicap and just starting out, I could still 3-putt from just about anywhere on the green. But I lost 3 balls and took 4 extra strokes to get there. If you are a high handicapper, get your tee shots in play, even if it means taking an extra club. I sometimes play with a guy who takes no more than 7-iron off the tee. He's almost always three shots to the green, but he scores better than someone slicing 2 out of 3 drives into the brush.

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Practiced very hard to hit a dependable iron shot from 150 and from 100, then played the course to those yardage markers.

I was always a good putter, and that obviously is the real key.

Not that complicated, really.
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You guys make it sound so "easy".

hmmmm now let's see, if I play mostly at my local par 3 course (check ....), spend most of my practice time chipping from around the green (check ....), and almost eliminate 3-putts (not even close but getting better ....), I'm gonna break 80 fairly soon, no daadabaaadit ...... (???)

Better not tell my wife tho', methinks she'll be a bit skeptical.

Parts of this thread remind me of my croquet days in Jolly Old, long long ago. I used to play intercollegiate and then against croquet clubs throughout the south of England. Most croquet teams had a few players who were quite competitive really but frankly didn't play the game very well. By which I mean their form was pretty bad and their strategy was very short-sighted, but it did allow them to beat players they otherwise wouldn't have by sheer grit and determination (and total risk aversion). These were sometimes called "Aunt Sallies", for whatever reason. Such players never, ever beat a high level player but often beat some in the middle who in truth were better players, for largely psychological reasons. I used to hate playing against players like that until I realized that they should be admired really. In competition it's winning that counts, not how elegantly you do it.

Same for tennis come to think of it. Those "rubbish ball" players as I used to call them sometimes got me so frustrated I'd self destruct half way through the second set, as in:

6-1 ...
6-7 ...
2-6 ...

Apologies for the diversion. Fortunately stuff like this doesn't seem to happen in golf.

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Sorry about that last post, I really went off the deep end a bit there .....

$2 Nassau, thank you for your very interesting posts. What you say reflects my own experience as well. I suspect that some low handicap players may have forgotten what it was like in the early years, when making a consistent shot (reasonable distance, on the track) off the tee or fairway is the highest priority. I still remember the days when my ball sometimes never once sat on a fairway (par 4), I'd just go from one bit of rough to another bit of rough, then a bunker probably, then eventually found myself on the green - not in a good frame of mind. I wonder sometimes why I didn't give the blasted game up right then - I'm sure many others do.

Now that I play with a bit more effectiveness with the longer clubs, and at least have a good idea what just happened when I screw up with a big push or a hook, I'm really focusing on the short game because I can see that's where the route to lower scores now lies for me. But I'm still making boneheaded decisions at times, such as going for the pin from 165 with a 5i with a pond immediately right and down a slope. Any shot pushed right was bound to go in, there was nothing serious to worry about on the left side of the green. I don't even have to tell you what blasted well happened on THAT particular hole .......

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a lot of good info on here for you guys looking to get into single digits
biggest thing, as mentioned above - practice the short game dudes and putting
hands down the best advise you will ever receive

i see too many people go out and spend $500+ on a driver and have $20 wedges and a $5 putter
you dont have to spend a lot of cash, but if you do have the $$...spend it on wedges and a putter

also one thing i dont think was touched on (maybe it was as i didnt read all the pages)...know your yardages
walk it out on the course AND range..know how far your hitting the ball and have a target
par 3 courses are great for getting to know your irons and their yardages

i have 2 broken clubs i bring w me to the range
i walk out 50 & 75 yards and stick them in the ground on the range
sure people laugh at me when i do it, but then i know how far i am hitting to
so many shots are in that range, you need to be good at hitting those clubs

you will shave a tonne of strokes off your handicapp, if your short game is good

my .02
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  • 1 month later...
lots and lots of playing/practicing...
im a very bad 9 and hope to play to a true 9 and much lower by the end of the season...
hope i play a lot more rounds like i played today... ill take high 70's over my usual mid 80's anyday
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To get to single figures like so many have said already its down to practice!
When practising have a goal in mind, like have 20 balls and theres a green 140 yds out, try and get as many to land on there as possible!
Putting chipping and pitching is everything though, without a decent short game you wont get far past a 9 really!
I also believe having a good game plan is important, knowing which pins are easy to get to and if you miss the green easy to get up and down from! Sometimes just aiming for middle of the green and making a safe par when the pin tucked away!
Also though i see so many people just mucking about on the course etc, theres nothing wrong with abit of banter but when its your turn to play take it seriously, have a pre shot routine, have a target and aim for it! I think thats the diffrence between the average joe and your single figure player!
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I am not a single digit yet, but im close, and I can tell you for ME why im not yet. Consistency and understanding/knowledge of my own swing. WHen I get hot, I will go out and shoot 79-80 with hitting every fairway and at least 50%GIR, the short game I will make everything 10 feet and in and get up and down 75% of the time. However the next day im just as likely to go out and shoot a 92. I will get in this euphoric state when im just hitting the ball so beautifully but I can lose that just as quick and start spraying shots everywhere. My chipping and putting can go to hell really fast, where im 3-4 putting from 10-15 feet. This is were knowledge of my swing comes in. When I get in these ruts, often I dont know whats causing it, and it takes me a long time to get back on track. My game kind of goes like this - a week of playing at a 7 HCP then 2-3 weeks playing at a 15-16 HCP. I know for me once I can get consistent I will get there.
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I worked at it, hard, for a few years. You can be a pretty bad golfer and get to a 9 handicap. Every stroke you shave off that is about 2x as hard as the one before it.

This is one thing I am 100% in agreement with you on. I have not had a formal lesson since I was in middle school and pretty much invented my own drills to keep practice interesting.

For one thing, putting drills can become redundant and boring, especially if you have a short attention span (I definitely fall in that category). However, most courses have putting greens with at least six to nine pin placements, and the two where I usually practice have nine, so you can have '18 holes' of practice in essence. Take three balls, and play each hole with each ball and record the aggregate score with each ball carrying a par of 2. For example, if you roll in two one-putts with your first two balls and have a two-putt with your last ball, it's an eagle. Three two-putts is par. Two two-putts and a three-putt is a bogey, and so on. I have found this drill to be very engaging and it allows you to set goals for yourself. If I can finish +4 or better through 18 holes of this drill, I consider it a success. It also forces you to hole everything out, no matter the distance, and it forces you to work on medium range putts (out of the three balls, I will normally leave at least one 4-6 ft away and have that putt to save par). You can do the same with chipping/pitching drills if your course has a chipping green that can double as a putting green. This drill caused me to go from a 6 to a 2.2 in one year.
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Long story, short: I started playing at age 10 and was fortunate to have a bit of ability but also spent hours practicing and playing, so I got to scratch before I was 18. I even built my own crude short game area in our yard. Then when I was 20-21 I quit golf due to other interests and obligations. When I finally picked the game back up some 15 years later I was no longer scratch...far from it! (I remember my first round back was like 120-something! ) So to get back to single digit I played and practiced a lot (not like I could as a kid of course), especially the short game. I took a few lessons to get back some of the fundamentals. I never made it quite back to scratch but I don't care to be either as I rarely practice anymore nor do I have the desire to. I hover between a 4-7 handicap these days and I'll still play in some competitive events like our club championship or our match play events but for me golf is now more about having fun with friends more than anything.

Good luck on your journey!

PS...I agree with the posts above that say the lower you get the harder it becomes to go lower. Getting back to single digits was relatively easy but that's when it gets harder to shave off the strokes...especially, I believe, the older you are.

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  • 2 months later...
Just curious how you pick 2.4 vs say 2.

I want to get down to 2.4 so I can play in the US Amatuer. Do I think I will win? Honestly no. But it is a goal to compete in a qualifying tournament each year and and maybe one day qualify for the actual US Am.

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Note: This thread is 1735 days old. We appreciate that you found this thread instead of starting a new one, but if you plan to post here please make sure it's still relevant. If not, please start a new topic. Thank you!

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