Single Digit Handicap Mystery

RealPretendPsychic

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I’m currently playing the best and most consistent golf of my life. I’m putting in the work from top to bottom of the bag. As you can see in my snip below, I have one differential waaaay lower than the others (my personal best). I’m just a little vexed on how to take things to the next level and make that the norm. I take it shot by shot on the course and stay in the moment, but I generally considered bogey golf a good score and I’m realizing now I need to pretty much split bogeys and pars on the card to continue to lower my handicap. Do I just keep doing the same things that I’m seeing success with to continue improving or do I need to try something new to continue into this uncharted territory?
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McLovin

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grint has some nice additional stats to tell you where you're lagging behind and can improve. for instance, grint tells me that my par 3 gir (22%) and par 5 gir (48%) are weaknesses (should be 41% and 57%, respectively). also tells me my scrambling is a weakness, that i only make BOGEY 74% of the time when i miss a gir and only 79% when i miss the fairway, where it should be 82% and 83%, respectively. while i don't know how to quantify that, i would estimate improving into my target ranges would be a stroke savings of 2-4 per round. so if i'm trying to get below a 3 this year (currently sitting at 4.9), i'm focusing on par 3 performance, smarter decisions on par 5s, and smarter decisions when scrambling.

as far as breaking into single digits, i think the recipe is pretty simple. hit AS MANY greens possible. because most people miss short and not long, club up and swing smooth. stop picking the shorter club and opting to go after it. also, leave the laser in the cart for anything outside 100 yards. instead, find the distance to the back of the green, take 5 yards off that distance, and club accordingly. lastly, don't EVER 3-putt. some 3-putts happen because of poor approach shots, but the rest of the time it's just pissing strokes away.
 

Lions81

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Biggest thing for me to get there was to limit bad holes to bogeys instead of doubles. Maybe that means not taking penalty shots, or taking your medicine when you get in trouble, or when you miss a green making sure you get the next one on even if it sometimes mean playing away from pins when you are short sided etc. Like you said, alternate pars and bogeys and maybe sprinkle in a birdie somewhere and that will get you there.
 

OldandStiff

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Pouring over your stats, I'm inclined to mostly tell you keep doing what you're doing. You've incrementally improved in most areas. Like, all of them.. No major differences that jump out. You've just played better all around. You're obviously headed in the right direction, so I'd say keep cultivating that shot by shot approach and just play your ass off.

In the spirit of constructive criticism, you are not good at long par 3's. Not uncommon for your cap, but as a longer hitter that's improving you'll likely have to play them more and more. So might look at your approach on those. Targets, tempo, how you succeed, and where you succeed off the fairway vs. the tee, etc. And as someone hitting around 40% greens there's always strokes to find in the wedge game. So keep at the the progress you're making on that. All signs are good. You're doing great David!
 

Snickerdog

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Shortgame and putting is the easiest to make up strokes IMO. Your game is solid and it is progressing in leaps and bounds.
1. Eliminate 2 chips
2. Make those putts to save par after that chip.
 

dAS0

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I agree that you should stay the course with what you are doing. Some of your higher scores will drop off quickly and lower scores will occur more often. Hit greens as much as possible and take the 1 putts where you can.
 

mancest

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I have dropped 4-5 strokes off my index and currently I am still working on the same things to try and shave as much more as I can. I think it really depends on what your strengths/deficiencies are. As McLovin pointed out, use the data you have to focus your energies where it can be the most beneficial.

Good luck and hopefully you keep trending downward with the index.
 

Puttmaster

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Great job! You're on the right track and have received solid, constructive suggestions in this thread. I would add ... you can eliminate one or two shots per round with smart course management. For instance, with those long par 3s that are giving you some trouble, are you playing to the smart side of the green? Or do you find yourself short-sided often? If the latter, there's one or two strokes you can shave pretty quickly.

And, I'd echo what @McLovin said, "hit AS MANY greens possible. because most people miss short and not long, club up and swing smooth. stop picking the shorter club and opting to go after it. also, leave the laser in the cart for anything outside 100 yards. instead, find the distance to the back of the green, take 5 yards off that distance, and club accordingly."
 

TheDoctor

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Congratulations on the improvement

Based on your screenshot, it looks like you have been slowly improving your overall scores, so the next step is to identify what is stopping you from going lower on a more regular basis
This could be something as simple as making smarter decisions on the course, or it could be something that needs lessons to reduce/remove a flaw in your swing to help improve consistency

For me, once I got down near that magical single figure handicap, there were a couple of goals that I set myself - first was to try and eliminate double bogeys as they can really mess up your score quickly, then the second thing was to make sure I kept 3-putts off the card as well

To eliminate the double bogeys, I would look at each hole and for those harder holes I would set myself a target of bogey, and if I managed a par I would consider it a bonus, but most of all I would try to ensure I kept the ball in play as much as possible
If I hit a shot that left me in the trees, I would play the safest shot that would keep the ball advancing towards the hole without the risk of putting myself in more trouble - we have a 460yd par 4 with OOB all along the right and if you end up hitting 3 off the tee you are looking at a high score very quickly, so if the wind is hard off the left I will hit 3 iron shots that have a better chance of being in play and still reaching the green to leave myself a par putt

Getting to the level you have means you are capable of striking the ball pretty well, so if you can improve your GIR and are a half decent putter, you will likely make the lower scores a more regular occurrence - after that, it becomes an incremental step for each drop in handicap by improving each area of your game

I have gone slightly the opposite way lately (up to 7.5) but that is just due to my back problem and not being able to swing freely for an entire round so my scores fall off as the round goes on - it is getting there, so I am starting to be able to keep going for longer but it is frustrating shooting a 40 for the front 9 and being on track for a possible sub-80 round to then finish with an 85 (or worse in some cases) due to not being able to swing a club properly

Keep up the good work, and I expect to see plenty posts in the Breaking 80 thread (y)
 

Et Tu Brute?

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Every golfer who has ever bothered to keep a scorecard has wished he could make all or most of his rounds as good as his personal best. It's the nature of golf that any level of golfer will once in a while play unusually well.

My only suggestion for your specific situation is to reconsider the idea of "consider[ing] bogey a good score". That is an expectation and expectation not only stands in the way of playing our best golf, it also robs the joy from the vast majority of rounds. The best single thing you could do (mind you, it's hard as hell!) is to learn to play every round, every shot without expectations. The best way to do that is by focusing on the process, not the result (still pretty darned hard).

Analyzing specific elements of your game after the fact is great, as a way of prioritizing your finite practice time. But you don't play better by just deciding you're going to hit more greens or whatever. That's just using the analytics to feed those expectations. It becomes an endless cycle.

Thus endeth the sermon.
 

Blade Man

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I was working towards this a year ago. I’m really not near as good as my HC. Every once in a while I shoot a good score. How? Eliminating wasted shots! For me this can be all over the course. However, 100 yards and in is the key for me. Those have to get to the green. When I’m chipping and pitching well I score well(for me). Part of this also meant I started playing smarter when I get in trouble. The hero shot had to be set aside for me. From the looks of things you are one or two good rounds away. Congrats!
 

DaveGolfer15

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1. Eliminate worse than double bogey/absolutely minimise double bogies. This could be course management and decision making and understanding risk/reward better.
2. Know your wedge yardages. How far do you hit a half GW? 3/4 LW? Full out SW? Etc... if you’ve not built a chart detailing yardages for different swings with different wedges, this is what I’d advise you to do. *IF* you’ve not done it already and you’re playing to 10, I absolutely guarantee this will move you into single figures.
 

GoldenBuff

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In my experience golf can have long improvement plateaus. I have had multiple periods where I put in massive work to improve, and although I felt like I should see results, my scores weren’t improving. And then at some point I would realize almost after the fact that the improvement was happening. Golf improvement for me is a slow, slow process of hard work and patience. This is also my experience in life — work harder for no to minimal gain — so maybe that’s just me. ;)

I also believe the mental part of the game is huge. The more I want to improve some aspect of the game, the more I put pressure on myself. That doesn’t help. When I let go I play much better.
 

ArmyGolf

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If you want to break into the single digits you need to learn to hate bogey. It is not a good score anymore. Your righteous hatred of squares should will you towards more par saving up and downs after missing a green.

(Bogey is still a good score once you've made a large error on a hole - make bogey not double)
 

Scooby45

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I have a similar story to the OP and will be following along intently. Appreciation the solid advice here.
 

SunnyWalker

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You are obviously making good progress, keep up the good work. The only thing I can comment on is the part about splitting bogeys and pars.

When I'm playing well, I'm making some birdies. These days, if I make 2 birdies, play 8-10 holes in -2, limit the damage in the other 8-10, I'll break 80.

Keep it in play, hit more greens, make more putts. Good Luck!!!
 

pattyboy21

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I've posted this before, but when breaking 80 was a major goal for me, I found it very useful to think of a round of golf at 6 x 3-hole mini rounds. My goal was to finish each 3-hole span at 1-over par. If I did that, it would be a 78 on my par-72 course back in Orlando.

The good thing about it was that I could start off well, and that would make me relax knowing I could afford to have a bad 3-hole stretch later. If I started poorly, I felt like I could always make it up with subsequent 3-hole stretches. Doing this really helped me stay in the moment rather than stumble as I had a final score in mind. Before I started doing this, I would get halfway through the back nine in great shape, but then let my thoughts sabotage me as I tried to finish strong.

I haven't done that in a while, but now that I think about it, I really should get back to doing it.
 

Hamfist

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Try to maintain a Zen-like calm even when things are going a bit sideways.
 

Et Tu Brute?

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Someone once said it's easy to learn to fly. Just figure out how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.

I think breaking 80 or getting a single digit handicap might work a little bit the same way. Try your best not to break 80 and fail.
 

ksprof

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Biggest thing for me is the short game. I'm not a great golfer, but I once was a 3 when I had time to practice before kids came along and have hovered between 6.9 and 8.0 over the last couple months playing maybe 27 holes per week. When the short game's good, I can hit 6 greens and shoot 75, when the short game's bad, I can hit 12 greens and shoot 84. Practice chip shots until you're fairly confident in getting them inside 4 feet (consider using a simple putting-type stroke on them), practice bump-and-runs, practice sand shots. Let the loft of your clubs do the work in the short game, do not try to manipulate the club.
 

ksprof

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One other tip: Forget the par of the hole. They are completely arbitrary, but bet you they've kept average scores a stroke a side higher over the decades. You know exactly what I'm talking about. People do stupid things because of some arbitrary number placed on a little sign beside a tee box. Why should that number dictate anything? Does it have some magical power that it should physically animate our bodies? Ridiculous that it should!

OK, I know par's not totally arbitrary, but it is once you step up to hit your shot and put the ball in play. Your relationship to the cup at any given moment and your personal strengths and weaknesses should dictate what you do, not a number on a sign. You top a 175 yard drive on a 440 yard par 4, maybe you try to rip a 3 wood to salvage the hole. Why are you trying the low percentage shot? Because of that little sign. What do you likely do? You cold top it. Next thing you know you're taking a 7. That's where the strokes go. If the arbitrary number on that little sign 175 yards back there had said "5" we'd probably hit a hybrid or a 4-iron, then wedge the ball on and have a legitimate shot at 4 anyway.

The only par number that matters is the one for 18 holes. We should do whatever it takes to minimize the amount we shoot over than 18-hole number and pay no attention whatsoever to the arbitrary number assigned to each hole.
 

Oldflgolfer

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Once you start getting up & down for par .....then avoiding dbl bogey at all cost

You're game will improve drastically
 

5150

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One other tip: Forget the par of the hole. They are completely arbitrary, but bet you they've kept average scores a stroke a side higher over the decades. You know exactly what I'm talking about. People do stupid things because of some arbitrary number placed on a little sign beside a tee box. Why should that number dictate anything? Does it have some magical power that it should physically animate our bodies? Ridiculous that it should!

OK, I know par's not totally arbitrary, but it is once you step up to hit your shot and put the ball in play. Your relationship to the cup at any given moment and your personal strengths and weaknesses should dictate what you do, not a number on a sign. You top a 175 yard drive on a 440 yard par 4, maybe you try to rip a 3 wood to salvage the hole. Why are you trying the low percentage shot? Because of that little sign. What do you likely do? You cold top it. Next thing you know you're taking a 7. That's where the strokes go. If the arbitrary number on that little sign 175 yards back there had said "5" we'd probably hit a hybrid or a 4-iron, then wedge the ball on and have a legitimate shot at 4 anyway.

The only par number that matters is the one for 18 holes. We should do whatever it takes to minimize the amount we shoot over than 18-hole number and pay no attention whatsoever to the arbitrary number assigned to each hole.
Yep.

This putt here is not for par, or birdie, or bogey.

It’s for ONE STROKE, just like every other putt (and shot) I’ll hit today.
 

ksprof

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Yep.

This putt here is not for par, or birdie, or bogey.

It’s for ONE STROKE, just like every other putt (and shot) I’ll hit today.
That's a good way of putting it. A lot more to the point than my way.
 

F.N.G

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Yep.

This putt here is not for par, or birdie, or bogey.

It’s for ONE STROKE, just like every other putt (and shot) I’ll hit today.
These are good advices, as my nephew says.
 

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