I’ve been golfing for over 35 years. My handicap has ranged from a low of 8 to a high of 15, to where it is now which is an 11. If you’re not a golfer, what that means is your handicap is what you shoot over par on a round of golf. So that means my score is usually in the low to mid 80’s. That’s respectable. I would never try to tell someone how to hit the ball or give them any type of golf lessons, but I can give some tips on how a mid to high handicap golfer can lower their score dramatically. Putting and short game.
I golf with a group of 20-25 guys, 1-2 times a week. Their handicaps range from maybe a 7 or 8 to mid 30’s. There are obvious differences like distance and accuracy. We all want to hit the driver 300 yards, but most of us hit it 180-220. If you can keep it in the fairway, you can consistently shoot in the 80’s with a decent short game. The biggest difference between the two levels of golfer is the short game. That consistently ends up being about a stroke a hole if not more. Instead of a one or two putt, it is a two or three putt. Or instead of getting it on the green from 50 yards out, they chunk one or two shots. There are guys who from tee to green are pretty close to me, but they have a hard time getting the ball on the green and then putting. Mainly because they don’t practice that part of their game. Most do practice putting, but very few practice chipping and hitting shots within 50 yards of the green. Fewer yet practice hitting from the sand trap. You can go from a 25 to a 15 very easily by playing smarter.
One of the biggest mistakes higher handicappers make is not hitting enough club when approaching the green. Let’s say the distance is 150 yards. They remember one time they hit their 7 iron that far and think they can do it every time. Instead they are often short of the green. That often leaves in the sand trap or with a difficult chip. In most cases it is easier to two putt than it is to chip it close enough to make a putt. The key is to get it on the green.
Another mistake is hitting too much club when they can’t reach the green. Let’s say you’re 250 yards out and you only hit your drive 210. You know you can’t reach the green, but what happens, you try to hit a fairway wood anyway. Best case scenario is you hit it straight and now you’re still 50-60 yards out. Worst case is that you hit it poorly and now you’re in the water, in the rough or somewhere else. I try to lay up to where I can take a full swing. For me that is 90+ yards out. It’s easier to hit a 100 yard shot than a 50 yard shot. I do this on most par 5’s because I have no hope of reaching it in two. I might hit a driver and then a 9 iron and a wedge. Less risk and possibly more reward. It’s easier to control the short iron. Even on some longer par 4’s. If I can’t reach it in two, then I think about laying up and hope I can get my approach shot close enough to make a par. If not, I get a bogey. What I see a lot is people are inside 50 yards and then it takes them 2 to get on and then they 2 or 3 putt. Instead of a par, they are getting a double bogey.
If you want to save strokes, practice that short game. Practice chipping from 5, 10, 15…. etc yards out. Build up the confidence and muscle memory of how it feels to hit the ball that distance. Practice shots from the sand trap. Most important thing in the sand is to get it out in one. Practice putting from various distances, but focus on the putts around 5-10 feet. Those are the ones you can make more often. Keep track of your putts each round. You should try to average less than 36 a round.
I can’t help you with your swing, but these tips can help lower your score.