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Tips for the (very) high handicap golfer

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My playing partner for an upcoming golf trip will be playing with a course handicap in the high 30s and from what I understand he deserves all of those strokes.

What can I do to help him quickly improve his scoring to win some of his matches? I'm planning to go heavy on the course management (keeping the ball in play) and work with him on some pitching/chipping techniques to hopefully help him scramble a bit better than he does now. That seems reasonable to me, but I haven't shot north of 100 (much less 110 or 120!) in ten years or more so this is all academic to me. What I really need is advice from the trenches about what is actually helpful (and possible) for someone of that ability level.

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He can't fix his ball striking/long game fast enough for the trip .  At that handicap, course management really doesn't play a key role in saving strokes.  He is likely to OB with hybrid tee shot just as much as he does with driver.   Even laying up with a  short iron can end up in hazard area.  Rather than messing with all those, I'd recommend looking at his short game - putting, and chipping.   He won't likely get any GIR and will have to scramble on most holes.   IMHO, most of his stroke saving will be done in an around the greens.    If you and he don't have time leading up to the trip, I recommend him to practice chipping, and putting just before the rounds to get the feel for the course greens. Good luck to you both.

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He is likely to OB with hybrid tee shot just as much as he does with driver.   Even laying up with a  short iron can end up in hazard area.

Is it not possible to for someone of that general ability level to have a pseudo-reliable 100yd punch shot with a 4H or similar to advance the ball with a minimum of left/right dispersion (and without the possibility of a bladed shot going too long)? I'm not looking for great, just some strategies to eliminate certain costly misses.

My other concern is what to do with forced carries (I have even seen at least one island green)...

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Quote:

Originally Posted by rkim291968

He is likely to OB with hybrid tee shot just as much as he does with driver.   Even laying up with a  short iron can end up in hazard area.

Is it not possible to for someone of that general ability level to have a pseudo-reliable 100yd punch shot with a 4H or similar to advance the ball with a minimum of left/right dispersion (and without the possibility of a bladed shot going too long)? I'm not looking for great, just some strategies to eliminate certain costly misses.

My other concern is what to do with forced carries (I have even seen at least one island green)...

When I was 30 HI 5 years ago, I didn't have such shot.   My costly miss happened with just about any club I had.  So, often, I went with the longest club to get the distance at least.   But your partner may have a shot that is more accurate than the rest of his arsenal.   It wouldn't hurt to ask what it is.  The hard thing would be to make him utilize that shot over others despite the urge to do otherwise.

Force carry?  That's a tough one for 30 HI golfer to overcome even if the distance is reasonable to carry.   I used to hit to the shorted part of the carry no matter where the green/hole is.   That's what he should be doing, too.

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Some positive encouragement, especially when you sense frustration, will help more than you can imagine.

Encouragement, patience, and of course, alcohol.

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I wonder what format you're playing. Alternate shot?

When I started out and found myself in scrambles, alt shot, etc... My partner(s) and I were well aware of what our strengths and weaknesses were. I wasn't going to hit a GIR, but I could pull a few great putts from the aft cavity.

Our goal was to have fun, and I get the impression that this pairing for you is more about that than winning the event.

IMHO, if there was a stock shot that rookies could use to play well... I imagine we'd all be doing that from jump :-D

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I wonder what format you're playing. Alternate shot?

Format is a nonconforming amalgam of stroke and singles match play. Each foursome is pairs of teammates playing a pair of opponents in four simultaneous matches (A vs C, A vs D, B vs C, B vs D) with points for winning the front/back/total. In the afternoons we play alternating shot, better ball, and scramble in pairs. There is a low-net and low-gross consolation competition as well but that is secondary to the team competition.

IMHO, if there was a stock shot that rookies could use to play well... I imagine we'd all be doing that from jump

Are you saying you couldn't get a semi-repeatable shot like I described (half-swing hybrid that goes 80-100yds and no more than 20yards offline) or that such a shot wouldn't allow you to 'play well'?

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Format is a nonconforming amalgam of stroke and singles match play. Each foursome is pairs of teammates playing a pair of opponents in four simultaneous matches (A vs C, A vs D, B vs C, B vs D) with points for winning the front/back/total. In the afternoons we play alternating shot, better ball, and scramble in pairs. There is a low-net and low-gross consolation competition as well but that is secondary to the team competition.

Are you saying you couldn't get a semi-repeatable shot like I described (half-swing hybrid that goes 80-100yds and no more than 20yards offline) or that such a shot wouldn't allow you to 'play well'?

1) Format sounds fun and includes handicapping. Seems that the alternate shot format will be the toughest considering your index and his/hers. Assuming you can always take the tee shot, perhaps your OP was aimed at finding something for your partner to do on shot two?

2) I think the semi- repeatable part is the challenge for a 30+ index. I suppose one could poke a baby short iron 100yds over and over, but now they reach a green hitting five or six.

If your partner is getting some strokes per hole and matched up against a similar index - cool. If you simply want him to advance the ball decently during alt shot with you, I suppose a little punch and run mid-iron could be discussed and worked on. Based on my experience, you'll need patience and a little Jameson.

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1) Format sounds fun and includes handicapping. Seems that the alternate shot format will be the toughest considering your index and his/hers. Assuming you can always take the tee shot, perhaps your OP was aimed at finding something for your partner to do on shot two?

The afternoon matches are with different partners (these are 8-man teams) than who you play with in the mornings so he will be SOP then. I am just playing along with him in the mornings and want to help him do well to net points for our team (and keep him having fun).

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Is it not possible to for someone of that general ability level to have a pseudo-reliable 100yd punch shot with a 4H or similar to advance the ball with a minimum of left/right dispersion (and without the possibility of a bladed shot going too long)? I'm not looking for great, just some strategies to eliminate certain costly misses.

My other concern is what to do with forced carries (I have even seen at least one island green)...

Assuming an open fairway with good roll-out conditions and no bunkers/hazards to get over, his best bet would probably be a long/exaggerated putting stroke with a 3W or 5W.  With the right fairway conditions, he should be able to advance the ball a lot more than a hundred yards with that shot.  The loft of the FW basically turns it into a very long bump and run.  Not pretty, but relatively safe.

As far as the forced carries, it will probably be a matter of luck as much as anything else - as a 30+ hcp, I'm assuming his ballstriking is very inconsistent.  If they're fairly short carries, maybe a pitch shot clubbed up about 3 clubs more than he'd need for a full swing shot.  As a high handicapper myself, I find partial swing shots to be easier to execute (and more consistent results) than full swing shots - less moving parts, less things to go wrong, easier to deliver the club face to the ball.

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Sounds like a good time, the best thing for him is to understand he is a 30 handicap , so with that being said he should try his best to just have a good time and not try and make things happen in his swing. He is going to hit bad shots and he will also hit good ones. If he stays positive and not get upset over bad holes he will do much better, and who know he might even win his match!

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Whichever club in the bag he can get off the tee with, and I don't care WHAT it is ... find some consistency there and repeat it.  From the fairway, identify the club he feels comfortable with, (perhaps a 7- or 8-iron?) and produces results.  On a par five, if he has to hit three 7-irons to get close to the green, great.  A little help around the greens and putting practice would also be in order.

Lastly, take anything with THREE on it out of his bag.  3-wood, 3-iron, 3-hybrid.  Maybe even take out the FOURS, too!

If he needs to see improvement quickly, simplify what he's doing and focus on his strength areas. Set him up for success by keeping it simple.

dave

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Just an update: My partner ended up playing pretty true to his number and generally shot in the 120s but managed to win a fair number of points since he would string together two or three good holes and then give one back with a 10. He was getting a stroke on every hole generally (sometimes two) so making bogey or double is all it takes to beat someone playing of 15.

High handicap golfers only repeat one thing, a barrage of mishits.

He was actually surprisingly consistent. His big miss was topping the ball but he did that only occasionally. His ball flight was a pretty predictable fade and he had considerable success around the green which I did not expect. If he was greenside and didn't have to carry a bunker it was better than even money that he would get down in three or less. His biggest challenge was that he had no length. A really good drive would run out 150-170yards maybe and if he hit it off center or hi/low it was closer to 120.

Some positive encouragement, especially when you sense frustration, will help more than you can imagine.

On his own he remained mainly positive but that started to slip a couple times and I did my best to try to keep him from getting too discouraged. He didn't have a problem taking the conservative line which helped him a lot since he stayed out of a lot of trouble that he otherwise would have hit right into.

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Glad to see it all worked out in a sense.

I'm sure he had at least one great shot that will make him come back for more.

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One thing from 5SK... Key #1 (steady head).  That is the one thing that was the most successful and easiest to implement so far for me and I'm still working on it.

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....He was actually surprisingly consistent. His big miss was topping the ball but he did that only occasionally. His ball flight was a pretty predictable fade and he had considerable success around the green which I did not expect. If he was greenside and didn't have to carry a bunker it was better than even money that he would get down in three or less. His biggest challenge was that he had no length. A really good drive would run out 150-170yards maybe and if he hit it off center or hi/low it was closer to 120....

Maybe anecdotal, but it does support iacas' recommendations about spending the most practice time on the full swing/long game.

Glad to hear it all worked out well enough!

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