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Chipless

Update after one full year playing golf

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One year ago today a good friend of mine convinced me to try to learn to play golf.  Here's a recap of my lessons and scoring progress to date:

August 2011 through January 2012 (first six months): took 19 hours of lessons from Westerville Golf Center, improved last ten nine hole rounds running average from 65.0 to 58.7 (10% improvement).

February 2012 through July 2012 (second six months): took 16 hours of lessons from GolfTEC, improved last ten nine hole rounds running average from 58.7 to 49.6 (16% improvement).

And here is a list of some milestones/personal bests:

Average drive distance (18 holes):

139 yards on 3/14/12

148 yards on 3/29/12

176 yards on 4/12/12

207 yards on 6/7/12

211 yards on 7/19/12

Fairways hit (18 holes):

1 fairway on 3/7/12

2 fairways on 3/21/12

4 fairways on 4/27/12

5 fairways on 6/7/12

7 fairways on 7/19/12

Greens in regulation (18 holes):

1 green on 1/10/12

2 greens on 3/29/12

3 greens on 4/19/12

4 greens on 7/10/12

5 greens on 7/29/12

Total putts (18 holes):

42 on 12/26/11

35 on 12/29/11

32 on 1/10/12

29 on 6/5/12

Wedge to hole strokes (18 holes):

66 on 7/26/12

58 on 7/29/12

9-hole scores:

65 on 10/28/11

55 on 11/19/11

53 on 12/29/11

51 on 1/7/12

47 on 4/12/12

44 on 5/26/12

43 on 6/5/12

18-hole scores:

122 on 12/26/11

114 on 12/29/11

109 on 3/14/12

104 on 4/12/12

99 on 4/19/12

91 on 5/26/12

89 on 6/5/12

For anyone who's been there and done that, does it seem like I am progressing at a decent rate?  And how much additional improvement do you think might be realistic for the next year?

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Great job man, and way to keep track of all those stats! That will pay off in the long run, keep that up! A lot of people don't even bother to keep track of how many greens they hit in a given round or how many FIRs they hit.

I would say you're progressing faster than the average casual player. I am certain that getting down to a low teen handicap is more than possible within the next year. If you work hard I bet you could be a 9 or a 10 by this time next year.  I would say you need to get a little more distance off the tee to be able to attack and consistently score. And focus on being able to 2-putt from anywhere, under any conditions. One thing that has helped me a lot is doing a few different putting drills and keeping track of my stats/number of tries/etc. Trying to simulate the feeling of absolutely having to make a putt will help you on the course.

Keep it up!

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35hrs of lessons in a year is a lot.  I'm sure you dropped some coin on the Golftec lessons too (I know I spent ~ $600 for my lessons through Golftec in the past and it was only 5 or 6 lessons).  I'd probably find a very qualified instructor in the local area - and see him once a quarter.  Even if he was $200/hr... I'd go see him and have him give you core items to work on to take your game to the next level.

Then, I would simply go to the range every day - or at least 3x a week and work on grooving your swing.  Your ball striking needs to improve if you're only hitting 5/18 greens in regulation (less than 30%).  You should be getting that number up to ~ 45% or higher to take that next step in scoring.  And as you focus on ball striking - you'll start hitting the ball further off the tee too.  As your quality of strike (center hits) will increase.  Center hits increase the ball speed off the face of the club - getting the ball to travel further which will also make the game a little easier to score (shorter clubs in your hands on an approach shots).

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Originally Posted by Beachcomber

35hrs of lessons in a year is a lot.  I'm sure you dropped some coin on the Golftec lessons too (I know I spent ~ $600 for my lessons through Golftec in the past and it was only 5 or 6 lessons).  I'd probably find a very qualified instructor in the local area - and see him once a quarter.  Even if he was $200/hr... I'd go see him and have him give you core items to work on to take your game to the next level.

Then, I would simply go to the range every day - or at least 3x a week and work on grooving your swing.  Your ball striking needs to improve if you're only hitting 5/18 greens in regulation (less than 30%).  You should be getting that number up to ~ 45% or higher to take that next step in scoring.  And as you focus on ball striking - you'll start hitting the ball further off the tee too.  As your quality of strike (center hits) will increase.  Center hits increase the ball speed off the face of the club - getting the ball to travel further which will also make the game a little easier to score (shorter clubs in your hands on an approach shots).

Great advice.

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Originally Posted by Chipless

August 2011 through January 2012 (first six months): took 19 hours of lessons from Westerville Golf Center, improved last ten nine hole rounds running average from 65.0 to 58.7 (10% improvement).

February 2012 through July 2012 (second six months): took 16 hours of lessons from GolfTEC, improved last ten nine hole rounds running average from 58.7 to 49.6 (16% improvement).

Actually, your improvement is far greater than that, since you can never get down to zero score.  If you assume that par 36 is "perfect", then your actual improvement for Aug-Jan 2012 was (65.0-58.7)/(65-36) = 21.7% and from Feb-Jul 2012 was (58.7-49.6)/(58.7-36) = 40.1% . Great job!

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Originally Posted by Beachcomber

Your ball striking needs to improve if you're only hitting 5/18 greens in regulation (less than 30%).  You should be getting that number up to ~ 45% or higher to take that next step in scoring.  And as you focus on ball striking - you'll start hitting the ball further off the tee too.  As your quality of strike (center hits) will increase.  Center hits increase the ball speed off the face of the club - getting the ball to travel further which will also make the game a little easier to score (shorter clubs in your hands on an approach shots).

I for sure need to work on my ball striking - even more than you realize.  The 5/18 GIRs I listed above was a new milestone for me, meaning that was the most I have ever hit.  My YTD average is only 2.0, and my average for the last ten rounds 3.0.

Originally Posted by Harmonious

Actually, your improvement is far greater than that, since you can never get down to zero score.  If you assume that par 36 is "perfect", then your actual improvement for Aug-Jan 2012 was (65.0-58.7)/(65-36) = 21.7% and from Feb-Jul 2012 was (58.7-49.6)/(58.7-36) = 40.1%. Great job!

Let me make sure I understand this perspective. Fast forward a few years and let's pretend that I have a new best of 38, and then improve it to 37.  Would that be considered a 50% improvement?

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I'm just glad you're enjoying the game and have had a steady improvement over the past year. I kept similar stats when I started out too. When you get to the stage where you feel you have control over where most of the shots end up, either on the green or very near, focus more on the short game. Short lobs, pitch and runs, bunker play in all conditions, chipping, and putting. Become really good at it. Practice on it alone, between full swing practice days. Later mix the practice where you have half short game, half full swing. I can't stress this more - it will make you see every hole as either two putt pars when there in regulation or one putt pars when not. My experience was it enabled me to shoot seventies golf after being in the game for just three years. Competing in matches and tournaments will be the true measure to see how well you're doing, and I do hope you'll be enjoying that aspect too if not already. Keep it up!

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I've been playing about 15 months myself but I didn't keep track of all my stats like that. I also haven't played a lot of rounds compared to most.

Congrats on your improvement, steadily knocking off a few strokes is probably the most encouraging way to improve. I myself have played 2 distinct rounds apart from the others where I improve my play considerably (10 strokes), on others I don't improve much at all. I'm hoping for a third soon that will break 90 and 80 in the same round or come close to it. My game is almost right there, I can feel it. The putting and short game are about 80% of what I want them to be, mainly I want to improve my 100 yard shot and get my good putts to actually drop some of the time. The long game is plenty long but not enough game at the moment. I just need a round of consistent feel and not hit moon balls with my irons or try too hard not to hit moon balls. And to fire my caddy.

29 putts is fantastic, by the way. You hit too many other shots within 100 yards (you could nearly cut them in half), but that low number of putts means you'll get as good as your ballstriking turns out to be. Did you mostly eliminate penalty strokes, or were they never a big problem?

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Let me make sure I understand this perspective. Fast forward a few years and let's pretend that I have a new best of 38, and then improve it to 37.  Would that be considered a 50% improvement?

I think if you were going to work off of % of improvement, instead of making par the baseline, make it a 'perfect' round of golf (birdie on every hole). Someone else can do the math, but that might be a better indicator of percent improvement. Just an opinion. Edit: Using 54 strokes as the baseline instead of 72, the improvement from 38 to 37 would be ~8%. That sounds about right to me. Oh, and congrats on your steady improvement! Re: The number of lessons you take - If you can afford the lessons and just like the extra set of eyes watching you, there's nothing wrong with the number of lessons you've taken. It does take some time (more than 1.5-2 weeks unless you're hitting 500 balls/day) for new swing patterns to become vicseral, though. I'm sure you know if you're taking too many lessons....right?

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Originally Posted by Chipless

Let me make sure I understand this perspective. Fast forward a few years and let's pretend that I have a new best of 38, and then improve it to 37.  Would that be considered a 50% improvement?

You can consider it whatever you like.  What I was trying to point out was that you had improved more than you gave yourself credit for.

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Originally Posted by Quantico4th

When you get to the stage where you feel you have control over where most of the shots end up, either on the green or very near, focus more on the short game. Short lobs, pitch and runs, bunker play in all conditions, chipping, and putting. Become really good at it. Practice on it alone, between full swing practice days. Later mix the practice where you have half short game, half full swing. I can't stress this more - it will make you see every hole as either two putt pars when there in regulation or one putt pars when not. My experience was it enabled me to shoot seventies golf after being in the game for just three years. Competing in matches and tournaments will be the true measure to see how well you're doing, and I do hope you'll be enjoying that aspect too if not already. Keep it up!

This seems like excellent advice to me.  On my average decent hole now, I will just miss the green, chip on, then two putt for bogey.  I can definitely see how being able to chip closer and save par with a one putt would make my scores start dropping like crazy.

Originally Posted by LuciusWooding

I've been playing about 15 months myself but I didn't keep track of all my stats like that. I also haven't played a lot of rounds compared to most.

Congrats on your improvement, steadily knocking off a few strokes is probably the most encouraging way to improve. I myself have played 2 distinct rounds apart from the others where I improve my play considerably (10 strokes), on others I don't improve much at all. I'm hoping for a third soon that will break 90 and 80 in the same round or come close to it. My game is almost right there, I can feel it. The putting and short game are about 80% of what I want them to be, mainly I want to improve my 100 yard shot and get my good putts to actually drop some of the time. The long game is plenty long but not enough game at the moment. I just need a round of consistent feel and not hit moon balls with my irons or try too hard not to hit moon balls. And to fire my caddy.

29 putts is fantastic, by the way. You hit too many other shots within 100 yards (you could nearly cut them in half), but that low number of putts means you'll get as good as your ballstriking turns out to be. Did you mostly eliminate penalty strokes, or were they never a big problem?

Just to be clear, 29 putts per round is my lifetime best.  My current average is 35.6.  Penalty strokes are the bane of my existence.  Today for example, I shot a 94, that included an 11 on one hole, where I managed to put two balls into two different wooded areas.

Originally Posted by LovinItAll

I think if you were going to work off of % of improvement, instead of making par the baseline, make it a 'perfect' round of golf (birdie on every hole). Someone else can do the math, but that might be a better indicator of percent improvement. Just an opinion.

Edit: Using 54 strokes as the baseline instead of 72, the improvement from 38 to 37 would be ~8%. That sounds about right to me. Oh, and congrats on your steady improvement!

Re: The number of lessons you take - If you can afford the lessons and just like the extra set of eyes watching you, there's nothing wrong with the number of lessons you've taken. It does take some time (more than 1.5-2 weeks unless you're hitting 500 balls/day) for new swing patterns to become vicseral, though. I'm sure you know if you're taking too many lessons....right?

I really like this way of looking at it.  And yes, I have cut back on the lessons.  Right now, I am averaging about one per month.

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