Becoming a scratch or better player.

dankil13

Member
Joined
Feb 8, 2011
Messages
603
Reaction score
3
Location
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Handicap
5
I have a question for the scratch, near scratch, or just dang good golfers among you.

We've all heard stories of folks that are naturally good at golf. You know, you buddy who was a baseball player in high school, but decided to give golf a try 2 years ago and is currently playing to a 3 handicap.

However, I'm interested in those of you that came from the top (high handicapper) and worked your way down.

Was there a breakthrough in your game? Was it a particular instructor? A change in technique? Just lots more hours of practice? Or was it just slow and steady improvement?

Just curious to see if anyone made any big jumps and where those jumps happened if so.
I went from a 10 HCP to a 3 HCP a few years back just by playing 2x a week and practicing 1x a week. My short game improved ten fold. Also, I made more consistent contact and could manage my misses better.

Of course, with 3 kids including 2 little ones this year its hard to get out 1x a week these days let alone practice (hence I am back up to a 7)
 

T2GRN18

Active member
Joined
Jul 8, 2012
Messages
25,159
Reaction score
9
Location
Maryland
Handicap
2.1
My golf coach used to say the difference between a 10 HC and a scratch was course management and a short term memory for bad shots. I think that he was on to something.
Course management is definitely a huge key to success. Many times I find my course management to a little more aggressive than I need to be when I'm play a familiar course. The short term memory I try, emphasis on try, to use the ten step rule. After I hit any shot I give myself ten step to either stew about it, or feel good about it. I picked that up from one of the tour players along the way. Sometimes it does take a few more than 10 I will admit.
 

Canadan

You Are Great
Albatross 2021 Club
Staff member
Joined
May 16, 2010
Messages
101,882
Reaction score
25,524
Location
Ohio
Handicap
+
I have a question for the scratch, near scratch, or just dang good golfers among you.

We've all heard stories of folks that are naturally good at golf. You know, you buddy who was a baseball player in high school, but decided to give golf a try 2 years ago and is currently playing to a 3 handicap.

However, I'm interested in those of you that came from the top (high handicapper) and worked your way down.

Was there a breakthrough in your game? Was it a particular instructor? A change in technique? Just lots more hours of practice? Or was it just slow and steady improvement?

Just curious to see if anyone made any big jumps and where those jumps happened if so.
I've played golf since I was a kid.. The normal golf progression, but started taking the game really seriously shortly after college.. Went from I think a 9 index to a 1.2 within a few months, and it was all about learning course management, playing different shots, especially in the short game, and learning how to control the holes that really cost me strokes.

I think it's all about setting yourself goals. If you're a 20, and you currently lose 5 tee balls into the crap or OB, work on your driving game and turn 5 into 3. Often times that's the difference of four strokes, and it's those little changes that can turn a 20 into a 15, and a 15 into a 10, etc.

..oh, and countless hours of practice.
 

Canadan

You Are Great
Albatross 2021 Club
Staff member
Joined
May 16, 2010
Messages
101,882
Reaction score
25,524
Location
Ohio
Handicap
+
A little update on my world.. Played some of the best golf of the year today in record (read: JB'esque) pace.. +1 playing in 1:45 and had an absolute mess of GIRs.

The putting has looked better.. I took what thain said to heart and focused more about trusting my lines and judging speed, and I think it's definitely helping. Had a handful of solid one putts, and a couple really nice longer putts, including about a thirty footer for bird that went straight into the cup.

One of the other struggles I have is judging my short game as the weather changes.. This past weekend, everything was soaked and I was coming up way short on everything. Today, everything has dried out wonderfully and shots that I think are fantastic run by the hole a fair bit. It's not a huge fix, and I still had some gems. Just need to keep these things in mind.

How's everyone else doing?
 

T2GRN18

Active member
Joined
Jul 8, 2012
Messages
25,159
Reaction score
9
Location
Maryland
Handicap
2.1
I hesitate to chime in on becoming a scratch player but I will try to tread lightly. I became a scratch for the first time in 1982 at age 17 and have kept my index between a 1.5 and +2.8 in the 30 years since then. My cliche advice is: it's all about the short game. Being able to get up and down from 125 yards in and putting well is the key. That being said, many golfers, like me, will never be great putters. If you are a scratch, putts are about 40% of your strokes. Spend 40% of your practice time putting. Putting is a game of confidence, ability to read greens, and god given talent. If that sounds simplistic, talk to anyone who has played competitive golf at a college level or higher and they will tell you the same thing. The mini tours are full of great ball strikers who can't putt. The best players in the world only hit 13 GIR per round, but all of them can get up and down and putt. My other advice is don't become a range rat on you quest. You have to test what you've practiced on the range and be able to transfer it to the course. Practice is great but we all tend to fall back on old swing tendencies when under pressure. I have the same swing flaws creeping up now that I did in 1982. Very few of us are gifted enough to re-build our swing like Tiger has done 3 times.

Also, the mental part of the game becomes more important the closer you get to scratch. For me, mental mistakes are the difference between a 70 and a 75. Nothing is more frustrating than having all the shots and not having the brains to execute them. My good rounds I make 4 or 5 mental mistakes, my great ones I make 1 or 2. Most of my rounds that I score under my index are the result of good decision making and confidence much more so than great ball striking. Don't get discouraged in you quest to be a scratch player - most of the scratch golfers I know are not gifted athletes; they got there because they had confidence and determination. Lastly, if you're looking for a book that covers everything you need to become a scratch, you must read Hogan's Five Lessons. Not everyone can learn golf from a book, but if you are that type, it's the best.

Good luck and have fun along the way!!
This is excellent insight to where many of us want to get to. I never really broke down the percentile of puts per round. Thanks for the input, and that is a great read! Hogan was IMO the hardest working golfer to date.
 

coolbreeze

Aspiring Golferr
Joined
Sep 19, 2010
Messages
22,092
Reaction score
139
Location
Victoria, BC
Handicap
RCGA 8.9
Alright, I've been pretty busy lately with work and life and such and I haven't been able to update this thread as much as I would like. I've still been practicing as much as I can, but its still not as much as I would like. I've been playing about twice a week still but lately my ball striking has been very inconsistent. The ironic thing (at least to me) is that my short game has been the most consistent and best part of my game lately and I haven't been able to say that for a long long time. I guess that goes to show that if you practice something you actually do get better at it.

As for my full swing I've been fighting the "strong draw" lately that I have recently fixed after noticing that I was setting up to the ball with a really closed club face, but the fact that my swing got so out of whack has led me to think I would like an expert to take a look at my swing. So with that in mind, tomorrow I have my first lesson with my new coach. His name is John Randle and he is the head pro at Bear Mountain and he has had some pro's in his teaching past and was himself a touring pro.

I'm really looking forward to having his thoughts on my swing, and what I'm really looking for from him in this lesson is what I'm doing well, what I'm doing poorly, and for him to give me some drills to work on while on the range.

I will update tomorrow with some video and what came of the lesson.

http://www.randlegolf.com/
 

MarcH

1-900-Foley-Boys
Joined
Jun 9, 2011
Messages
1,147
Reaction score
20
Location
Las Vegas
Handicap
Work
Seems like a good decision. Look forward to the update and gl with the lesson.
 

247GolfNut

Bogey
Joined
Feb 13, 2012
Messages
55
Reaction score
0
Location
Portland, Ore
Handicap
6.0
I'm in the same boat as the original poster. Played in my first "big" tourney this last weekend....the Oregon Mid Am Championship. What a great experience. I too want to at least be part of the show for "gross" and not just think "net". My handicap has come down about 6 strokes since playing and practicing more over the last 1.5 years. I've come to the realization that I need to practice chipping/putting more, play golf and hit the range LESS. Yes I said it! Golf over the last year has started to feel like a job and I want to get back to the "fun" part. I've got the swing pretty grooved just need to enjoy golf again rather than grind and tweak.
 

thepete

New member
Joined
Dec 2, 2010
Messages
2,568
Reaction score
17
Location
Sweden
Handicap
+3
grant next time out take note of your proximity to the hole. Are you inside 10', 15', 20' the majority of the time? I would 1) work on those distances 2) working on dialing it in closer if you are outside of the 20' range.
I can't remember who did the report/testing/study (Pelz?), but basically it concluded that practicing on anything outside of 10 feet, with the purpose to make the putt, is a waste of time. This is because the make percentage drops so enormously from 4 to 5, to 7, to 10 feet and then outside of 10 feet it just jumps off a cliff. This is with tour professionals mind you, not your average golfer.

The study also concluded that becoming better within 10 feet will improve your putting from outside of 10 feet. Thus, you should work on putts within 10 feet and lag putts (which is not really about making a putt but getting a feel). Now, I don't think many say 'yeah today I'm gonna go work on my 15-20 footers', but it's good to be conscious about which distances it is that matter and focusing on those distances. I know becoming conscious of these facts made me practice better and thus become a better putter.
 

coolbreeze

Aspiring Golferr
Joined
Sep 19, 2010
Messages
22,092
Reaction score
139
Location
Victoria, BC
Handicap
RCGA 8.9
Well I had a great lesson today and I learned a lot. I can see why he is considered one of the best golf coaches in Canada because I learned a ton today just talking to him. He liked a lot about my swing which was good to hear. He took a lot of video and really broke down for me, what he liked about my swing, and where it would go wrong (ie where I had a bit of a timing move.)

So we changed my grip which had gotten really strong again, and then we tweeked my set up position quite a bit which when combined with the grip change makes me feel like I'm not even going to make contact with the ball, but after a while I started to hit some balls that really showed me where this new grip and stance could take me.

The best part is that I now have drills to work on that I know are right for me and can really spend some time working on them. I was going to play tomorrow, but I think that will be counter productive, so tomorrow I'm just going to camp out on the range and really work on the swing.
 

Jman

Golfing Equipment Reviewer
Albatross 2021 Club
Staff member
Joined
Jan 20, 2010
Messages
130,529
Reaction score
25,636
Location
Oklahoma
Handicap
4.8
Good stuff buddy, sounds like it was a good day for sure. I need to follow your lead and get in for lessons again myself.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

coolbreeze

Aspiring Golferr
Joined
Sep 19, 2010
Messages
22,092
Reaction score
139
Location
Victoria, BC
Handicap
RCGA 8.9
Good stuff buddy, sounds like it was a good day for sure. I need to follow your lead and get in for lessons again myself.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Thanks man, its amazing what creeps in. The causes for my draws and hooks was pretty obvious when we broke it down, and we are now back on the path of getting back to a fade which is my preferred shot shape.

This is what I need if I want to be a scratch player, I think I had maxed out what I could get out of my full swing the way I was going. The hardest part is clearly going to be the new setup for me, I really need to be more flexible and I will be working on it every day. I now have a reoccuring reminder in my phone to do a stretching routine every day that I was given. My hammies and hips are just far too rigid.
 

SW

Grinder
Joined
Aug 4, 2010
Messages
14,135
Reaction score
106
Location
Coral Gables
Handicap
7.6
Sweet stuff breezer, I really like the part about giving you drills to work on. Beating balls is one thing, but having a few simple drills to work really makes getting the feel of the swing engrained where it needs to be.
 

Puttin4Bird

Say what again mf'er!
Joined
Feb 26, 2009
Messages
26,511
Reaction score
112
Location
Sioux Falls, SD
Handicap
3.5 GHIN
Go get em CB!

It has become painfully evident to me that if I'm ever going to take the next step I simply have to figure out how to get some more distance both with driver and out of my irons. I played yesterday with a couple guys who just embarrassed me off the tee all day long. I would end up holding my own and me and my partner (one of these I mention) scratched out a halve bit damn man, I'm every bit as strong if not stronger so I should be able to at least keep up. I'm painfully short with my irons here these last couple of years, that has to change. It's too late in the season to worry about it now but to start 2013 I have to address this.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

coolbreeze

Aspiring Golferr
Joined
Sep 19, 2010
Messages
22,092
Reaction score
139
Location
Victoria, BC
Handicap
RCGA 8.9
Sweet stuff breezer, I really like the part about giving you drills to work on. Beating balls is one thing, but having a few simple drills to work really makes getting the feel of the swing engrained where it needs to be.
Exactly, I really didn't want to start working on drills until I knew from a good coach what I should be working on. No point in working on drills that are not your problem.
Go get em CB!

It has become painfully evident to me that if I'm ever going to take the next step I simply have to figure out how to get some more distance both with driver and out of my irons. I played yesterday with a couple guys who just embarrassed me off the tee all day long. I would end up holding my own and me and my partner (one of these I mention) scratched out a halve bit damn man, I'm every bit as strong if not stronger so I should be able to at least keep up. I'm painfully short with my irons here these last couple of years, that has to change. It's too late in the season to worry about it now but to start 2013 I have to address this.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Thanks buddy, This is the time of year to start working on your swing as far as I'm concerned. We are now getting into the off season and are on the last of the nice weather so now is the time that I stop caring about score and just start making myself better.
 

Puttin4Bird

Say what again mf'er!
Joined
Feb 26, 2009
Messages
26,511
Reaction score
112
Location
Sioux Falls, SD
Handicap
3.5 GHIN
Interesting way to look at it. I don't disagree with that line of thinking at all but our off season is a bit long at times. I'd hate to start making progress then have to hit the shelf for 4 months. I'll still hit balls a lot in the winter so I probably wouldn't really forget what I learned I guess.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

coolbreeze

Aspiring Golferr
Joined
Sep 19, 2010
Messages
22,092
Reaction score
139
Location
Victoria, BC
Handicap
RCGA 8.9
Interesting way to look at it. I don't disagree with that line of thinking at all but our off season is a bit long at times. I'd hate to start making progress then have to hit the shelf for 4 months. I'll still hit balls a lot in the winter so I probably wouldn't really forget what I learned I guess.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Sorry didn't think about that. Our off season is just where our HC's are frozen because golf is a lot more difficult in the wet and rain of the winter so its the perfect time to work on your game and you can still take it to the course.
I guess I have no idea how you are as good as you are with your short golf season.
 

GrantD

Formerly Known as DMB012
Joined
Oct 13, 2010
Messages
8,380
Reaction score
52
Location
Mooresville, NC
Handicap
6
Go get em CB!

It has become painfully evident to me that if I'm ever going to take the next step I simply have to figure out how to get some more distance both with driver and out of my irons. I played yesterday with a couple guys who just embarrassed me off the tee all day long. I would end up holding my own and me and my partner (one of these I mention) scratched out a halve bit damn man, I'm every bit as strong if not stronger so I should be able to at least keep up. I'm painfully short with my irons here these last couple of years, that has to change. It's too late in the season to worry about it now but to start 2013 I have to address this.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
I felt like you poked the driver out there at the MC. I am not sure about your irons dude. I was always confused with this part of my game. I was able to get my driver out there with most of my playing partners, but seemed to be an iron or two behind on shots to the green. It was all about lag in my swing. I was casting on the way down and had no lag at the impact point. This is one of the hardest things to get over, but it is amazing. I gained a club very quickly once I started to get it down. I still have about another to gain. The accuracy will be there too. I think lessons are the way to go and video lessons help me so much. I love going back and looking at them.

I have a lesson this Wednesday and I can't wait. It has been a while, because life has been busy. I want to get this swing perfected by the spring season. I am going to come out running at a low handicap.
 

Howzat

I'd Rather Be At The Hideaway
Joined
Mar 28, 2011
Messages
24,286
Reaction score
50
Location
Minnesota
Go get em CB!

It has become painfully evident to me that if I'm ever going to take the next step I simply have to figure out how to get some more distance both with driver and out of my irons. I played yesterday with a couple guys who just embarrassed me off the tee all day long. I would end up holding my own and me and my partner (one of these I mention) scratched out a halve bit damn man, I'm every bit as strong if not stronger so I should be able to at least keep up. I'm painfully short with my irons here these last couple of years, that has to change. It's too late in the season to worry about it now but to start 2013 I have to address this.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
I am in the same boat but I am unsure how to go about getting this extra distance. I am going to work on stretching more and standing a bit taller to take more advantage of my height. Need to find some good drills or something to help increase swing speed.
 

Puttin4Bird

Say what again mf'er!
Joined
Feb 26, 2009
Messages
26,511
Reaction score
112
Location
Sioux Falls, SD
Handicap
3.5 GHIN
I felt like you poked the driver out there at the MC. I am not sure about your irons dude. I was always confused with this part of my game. I was able to get my driver out there with most of my playing partners, but seemed to be an iron or two behind on shots to the green. It was all about lag in my swing. I was casting on the way down and had no lag at the impact point. This is one of the hardest things to get over, but it is amazing. I gained a club very quickly once I started to get it down. I still have about another to gain. The accuracy will be there too. I think lessons are the way to go and video lessons help me so much. I love going back and looking at them.

I have a lesson this Wednesday and I can't wait. It has been a while, because life has been busy. I want to get this swing perfected by the spring season. I am going to come out running at a low handicap.
I do pretty good with my driver, but I could use a little more, maybe a solid 10 more yards or so. Or to be able to consistently hit it the way I did at the MC. It's not always that good and it wasn't that good all weekend long, in spots for sure, but not all the way through.

I think you're spot on with the casting and not having any power left at impact. I was talking about this late in my round yesterday, then I started thinking about that and played 2 holes like a complete idiot before I quick caught myself on the 18th and made a solid par to end the day. I'm sure that's my issue though. I need a trained eye to help me out, I can't go into it on my own or I'll surely screw myself up.
 

GrantD

Formerly Known as DMB012
Joined
Oct 13, 2010
Messages
8,380
Reaction score
52
Location
Mooresville, NC
Handicap
6
I do pretty good with my driver, but I could use a little more, maybe a solid 10 more yards or so. Or to be able to consistently hit it the way I did at the MC. It's not always that good and it wasn't that good all weekend long, in spots for sure, but not all the way through.

I think you're spot on with the casting and not having any power left at impact. I was talking about this late in my round yesterday, then I started thinking about that and played 2 holes like a complete idiot before I quick caught myself on the 18th and made a solid par to end the day. I'm sure that's my issue though. I need a trained eye to help me out, I can't go into it on my own or I'll surely screw myself up.
I tried fixing it for a solid year with videos and training aids. 2 lessons with a golf tec pro and I had lag at impact. World of difference. I think if Tiger and Rory need a swing coach, we could use a little help too. HAHA
 

Chunkylover77

Proud JakeNation Member
Joined
Jan 25, 2010
Messages
24,362
Reaction score
127
Location
Under a rock
Handicap
8.5
CB I am kind of on the same journey as you just not as ambitious. I feel like I can get to a 4 by the time the MC rolls around. My coach agrees with me. While my swing is not perfect, it will get me to where I want to go. A few adjustments here and there but its a solid swing. Short game and mental game. That will be the focus for me. I have been Pelzing it like a mad man!
 

CharlieMoy

New member
Joined
Nov 16, 2009
Messages
27,447
Reaction score
213
Location
West Chester, PA
Handicap
Dice
I love this dude. Youre so committed and so driven. Youre going to be better than your goals one day!

Well I had a great lesson today and I learned a lot. I can see why he is considered one of the best golf coaches in Canada because I learned a ton today just talking to him. He liked a lot about my swing which was good to hear. He took a lot of video and really broke down for me, what he liked about my swing, and where it would go wrong (ie where I had a bit of a timing move.)

So we changed my grip which had gotten really strong again, and then we tweeked my set up position quite a bit which when combined with the grip change makes me feel like I'm not even going to make contact with the ball, but after a while I started to hit some balls that really showed me where this new grip and stance could take me.

The best part is that I now have drills to work on that I know are right for me and can really spend some time working on them. I was going to play tomorrow, but I think that will be counter productive, so tomorrow I'm just going to camp out on the range and really work on the swing.
 

coolbreeze

Aspiring Golferr
Joined
Sep 19, 2010
Messages
22,092
Reaction score
139
Location
Victoria, BC
Handicap
RCGA 8.9
CB I am kind of on the same journey as you just not as ambitious. I feel like I can get to a 4 by the time the MC rolls around. My coach agrees with me. While my swing is not perfect, it will get me to where I want to go. A few adjustments here and there but its a solid swing. Short game and mental game. That will be the focus for me. I have been Pelzing it like a mad man!
I think you can do that too ya handsome devil. Short game and putting are what can decrease our scores the most, and like you I will continue to work my tail off on those two aspects of my game.

For me, I knew there was a timing issue in my swing, where if the timing was on, I could play very very well. The problem was if my timing was off, you would think I was a 35 HC out there. Now that I know what that timing thing is and what causes me to have to do that I really feel like I can be a consistent golfer and a better golfer.
 

coolbreeze

Aspiring Golferr
Joined
Sep 19, 2010
Messages
22,092
Reaction score
139
Location
Victoria, BC
Handicap
RCGA 8.9
I love this dude. Youre so committed and so driven. Youre going to be better than your goals one day!
Thanks buddy, I really hope so. Once I get the current changes ingrained which could take a month or two, then I will go back and see him again about the next step.
 

Welcome to The Hackers Paradise

Don't just play golf, live it!

Register Log in
Top