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Handicap holding you back?


Mop Bucket
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I was reading a book named "Your 15th Club" by Bob Rotella. He began talking about a comfort zone that most golfers fall into. For instance, if you shoot consistently around the same score every time you play, you develop a margin in which your subconscious is comfortable producing shots. He went on to say that tension builds in your game when you take a couple bogeys and your score moves to just above that "comfort margin", which can explain why birdies or pars usually end up dropping soon after, getting you back on track for your usual score. But the same could be said for the other extreme of the margin as well, and this is something I have been struggling with these past couple of seasons.

Earlier on, I would be coming down the stretch maybe 1 under par, well under my handicap of 4 or 5 at the time. This would seep into my head and eventually, I would end up linking together sometimes 3 or 4 bogeys in a row to finish my round... ending up very close to my handicap. I didn't think this resulted because I am not mechanically capable of producing a sub-par round, because I proved that I'm more than capable for the first 15 holes. I felt that I instead tensed up because I was out of my comfort zone in terms of scoring.

I experimented with dropping my handicap this season as in just getting rid of it. I rarely play events where I need one so I figured it may help me get rid of this notion of shooting better than what I'm "expected to". At first, it yielded the same results as before, because in my head I was still a 5, whether or not I was on paper. But I found that as the season went on, I became more and more comfortable with not only converting birdies, but stringing them, and retaining them. This may seem like nonsense, and I'm sure that other things could influence improvement, but I'm wondering if anyone else has experienced this "tension" when they are on pace to shoot well below their averaged scores. And if others agree that handicap influences what they can shoot.

Furthermore, how do you deal with this tension, whether it is from stringing together an anomaly-like round, or if it's caused by something else like a big tournament or money putt?

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2 hours ago, Mop Bucket said:

...Earlier on, I would be coming down the stretch maybe 1 under par, well under my handicap of 4 or 5 at the time. This would seep into my head and eventually, I would end up linking together sometimes 3 or 4 bogeys in a row to finish my round... ending up very close to my handicap. I didn't think this resulted because I am not mechanically capable of producing a sub-par round, because I proved that I'm more than capable for the first 15 holes. I felt that I instead tensed up because I was out of my comfort zone in terms of scoring...

Furthermore, how do you deal with this tension, whether it is from stringing together an anomaly-like round, or if it's caused by something else like a big tournament or money putt?

So, yes, I get it. While you're clearly a better player than I am, I suggest you get LSW. In there, near the back of the book, Erik suggests playing from the forward tees every once in awhile so that you get used to shooting lower scores...thereby reducing that tension/anxiousness that mounts when coming to #17 four strokes better than your PR. I've done that a couple of times and it was really helpful (admittedly I was a little surpised).

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Sometimes it's not mental at all, just the way the chips fall.

Let's say you typically get six 4s, six 5s, and six 6s in a round of 18 holes.

Sometimes they will line up like this: 456456456 456456456

Sometimes they will line up like this: 666555666 444555444

Sometimes they will line up like this: 444444555 555555666

In all cases you're ending up with a 90 but sometimes you feel like you blew it (last one) and other times you feel like you brought it back a bit (second one).

Reversion to the mean. Sometimes you get good scores in a row, sometimes bad scores in a row. Sometimes they're intermixed.

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