Connect with us

Instruction

How to use your handicap to lower your scores

Published

on

The fastest way to improve the game of an amateur, or a handicap golfer, is to use the established handicap as a guide to direct and then to measure that improvement. The measurement component is simple; as the game improves, the handicap goes down. Using the handicap as a guide is a bit more complex because the player must be dedicated, determined and disciplined enough to stay within the improvement process. And before I share with you the process, I want to share the foundation, or the rationale, that makes it work.

“Placing the ball in the right position for the next shot is 80 percent of winning golf.”

— Ben Hogan

Not all that long ago, I was present when a friend of a client of mine was complaining that no matter what he did with practice or lessons he just wasn’t getting better. He said that if he could just break 90 once he could “die a happy man.” It sounded like an opportunity to be of service to me, so I agreed to a playing lesson. The short version of that lesson was I told him what to hit and where to hit it — and he shot 87.

Was he happy? Not on your life! Angry, not quite… but really upset. Why? The poor guy said he didn’t have any fun!

The day of the playing lesson, I met the player on the range while he was warming up. I observed that he should never hit a driver, so I didn’t let him. I observed he couldn’t hit a long iron, so I didn’t let him. I had him tee off with a six iron on the par 4’s and 5’s, which he hated. And if he could have controlled his putting distance a bit better he wouldn’t have three-putted three times. No penalty shots, no water balls and no OB’s. All we did for 18 holes was try to put the ball in play and to keep it in play. He hated it. So much for dying a happy man.

During this playing lesson, I used the player’s handicap as a guide to maximize his playing ability, and I used his ability to help him make the best score he could at that time. So how did I use his handicap? I could see this player was no better than an 18, so I added one stroke to the posted par for each hole. Par 3’s became Par 4’s. Par 4’s became Par 5’s, and Par 5’s became Par 6’s. Once his par was established, he played each hole to get on the green according to that par adjustment. For example, the 210-yard par-3 became a 210-yard par-4. So instead of trying to get on the green from the tee, we used a strategy to get on the green in two and then two-putt for a 4, or “his par.”

I advocate every player use this handicap game-improvement system. A 15-handicap adjusts 15 holes so his par changes from 72 to 87; an 8-handicap adjusts eight holes so that his par changes from 72 to 80. I use this process for plus handicaps and professionals as well. A plus-4 adjusts four holes so his/her par changes from 72 to 68. Using this mindset, my playing lesson shot 3-under his par of 90.

I’ve had clients cut their handicaps in half in just a few months by adherence to this process. It works in lowering scores because it eliminates most “unforced errors,” and about half of all dropped shots at all levels are a direct result of unforced errors. Unforced errors occur when something is attempted that the player can’t do or shouldn’t do. The fewer unforced errors per round, the lower the score. It’s as simple as that.

I strongly urge golfers to chart each round of golf in order to identify every unforced error. Just email me at edmyersgolf@gmail.com and I will send the game-improvement scorecard that I have my clients use to evaluate their performance.

Posting lower scores is how handicaps go down, and all handicaps plateau when the player is faced with the realities of what he/she can and can’t do. For example, an improving handicap golfer may require the need to use clubs or hit shots not previously necessary. The playing experience reveals what needs practice, and practice is where the player should learn what can and can’t be done. Rule of Thumb: if you can do it 7/10 times in practice, you can consider doing it in play.

In the opening paragraph, I stated that dedication, determination, and discipline are required to stay within this improvement process should the player decide to implement it. But I should have said it takes a whole lot of all three. Experience tells me that players say what they feel, but do what they want. Neither is a plan for progress.

Your Reaction?
  • 110
  • LEGIT11
  • WOW2
  • LOL2
  • IDHT2
  • FLOP1
  • OB1
  • SHANK5

Ed Myers is the author of Hogan’s Ghost, Golf’s Scoring Secret and The Scoring Machine. He was the Director of Instruction at Memphis National Golf Club, and he is currently the scoring coach for players on all professional tours. "The Ultimate Scoring and Performance Experience" an all day program featuring on course private instruction and unlimited play with "Hogan's Ghost." is now available. More than a "golf school"and more than just short game. Individualized evaluation determines where to start the experience. Learn and work according to your goals, preferences and ability. All practice is supervised and structured to ensure maximum benefit and verifiable results. Program runs Monday -Friday from April through October, 2018. See you in Memphis, Tenn. "The Distance Coaching Program" is now available to all level of golfers worldwide. Thanks to modern technology everyone, everywhere, can train like a touring professional. Learn more about Ed at edmyersgolf.com. He can be reached at edmyersgolf@gmail.com.

6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. R k

    Jul 17, 2018 at 8:02 am

    Ed’s few articles published on GolfWRX are probably the most useful I’ve ever read on actually attempting to lower your handicap.

  2. Adam Gutterman

    Jul 15, 2018 at 8:38 am

    I helped someone on my annual buddy trip in a similar way a few years ago. Very powerful young player who had no idea how to think his way around the course. On the third day his uncle asked him to do what I told him for the round. There wasn’t anything genius about it – I made him hit irons off most tees since that put him in the fat part of the fairway. On approaches I made him shoot at the center of the greens using an extra club since he liked to max out his irons on every shot. He broke 40 for the first time, but didn’t enjoy playing that way enough to keep doing it.

    My big takeaway from that experience and this article is that people find enjoyment on the course in different ways. What’s most important is for people to really think about what that is for them. I’m pretty conservative by nature so I tend to try and minimize risk, so I probably leave some birdies out on the course. At the same time, there’s nothing wrong with playing outside of your ability so long as you understand that this is what your doing, and don’t beat yourself up when you don’t pull off the shots.

  3. Tom

    Jul 15, 2018 at 8:33 am

    Good idea, but the use of the term “unforced error” in the game of golf is ridiculous. Tell me what a “forced” error is.

    • James T

      Jul 15, 2018 at 10:06 pm

      Let me give that a try. An unforced error in golf is when you try a risk/reward shot and fail… and suffer the consequences. A “forced error” is when you simply hit a bad shot that costs you. Almost every time I’m on the 13th hole (a par 5) at my home course I’m faced with, “Do I go for the green in two, over the pond, or lay up and challenge for a birdie the conventional way.” Usually, if I’m 1 or 2 over par at that point I’ll chicken out and lay up to protect my score. If I’m 3 or more over I’ll go for it. Which 50% of the time ends up putting me another stroke or two over par. An unforced error that I took on knowing the potential calamity.

    • Logan

      Jul 16, 2018 at 9:22 am

      A forced error would be having to hit a driver when you aren’t very comfortable with it to carry a hazard off the tee. While it may not be the percentage play for you, you have no other choice but to hit the driver for that distance.

  4. Carson Henry

    Jul 14, 2018 at 1:57 pm

    Ed … This is absolutely FANTASTIC. A fabulous approach to game improvement!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Instruction

WATCH: How to hit your driver more consistently

Published

on

In this video, I share two great drills that will help you improve your driving today.

Your Reaction?
  • 7
  • LEGIT2
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK5

Continue Reading

Instruction

3 keys for getting out of bunkers with soft sand

Published

on

One of the most infuriating things in golf is to land in a bunker that has too much sand, or sand with the consistency of a truckload of talcum power. Now, I am not picking on the Superintendents; they do have to add new sand from time-to-time, so no hate mail please! It’s my fault for hitting it in the bunker in the first place, and bunkers are supposed to be hazards; I know that.

The one thing we will assume for this article is that even though we are in soft sand, we will have a good lie, not a plugged or semi-plugged one. We are in a bunker that just has a bunch of sand, or it’s soft and fluffy sand. Everyone asks me what the secret is to handling these types of conditions and I’m here to help you get better.

1) Get a wedge with the correct bounce

Let’s consider that you play the same golf course every weekend, or that you mostly play on courses that have the same type of playing conditions mostly. When you have this luxury, you should have wedges that fit the conditions you tend to play. So, if you have a low bounce wedge with a sharp flange and you’re playing from bunkers with lots of sand, then you are putting yourself at a disadvantage.

Why alter your swing if the wedge you have can help you? Use a high bounce wedge (9-12 degrees of bounce) for soft sand, and a low bounce wedge (6-8 degrees) for firm sand.

2) Control your Angle of Attack 

As with most things in golf, there are always things that you must pay attention to in order for you to have the odds in your favor. Simple things such as paying attention to the lie you have can help you save shots in the rough. In bunkers, you cannot test the surface, however, you can use your feet to feel the density of the sand. Pay attention to what you feel in the balls of your feet. If you feel a ton of sand below you, then you know you will have to alter your angle of attack if you want any chance to get out of the bunker successfully.

So what do I mean by this?

The setting of your wrists has a very dynamic effect on how much the wedge digs in or skids through the sand (assuming you have an open face). When there is a surplus of sand, you will find that a steeper attack caused by the maximum cocking of your wrists makes it much easier for the wedge to work too vertical and dig too deep. When you dig too deep, you will lose control of the ball as there is too much sand between the blade and the ball — it will not spin as much and won’t have the distance control you normally have.

The secret to playing from softer sand is a longer and wider bunker swing with much less wrist-set than you would use on your stock bunker shot. This action stops the club from digging too deep and makes it easier for you to keep moving through the ball and achieving the distance you need.

3) Keep your pivot moving

It’s nearly impossible to keep the rotation of your shoulders going when you take too much sand at impact, and the ball comes up short in that situation every time. When you take less sand, you will have a much easier time keeping your pivot moving. This is the final key to good soft-sand bunker play.

You have made your longer and more shallow backswing and are returning to the ball not quite as steeply as you normally do which is good… now the only thing left to do is keep your rear shoulder rotating through impact and beyond. This action helps you to make a fuller finish, and one that does not lose too much speed when the club impacts the sand. If you dig too deep, you cannot keep the rear shoulder moving and your shots will consistently come up short.

So if you are in a bunker with new sand, or an abundance of sand, remember to change your bounce, adjust your angle of attack, and keep your pivot moving to have a fighting chance.

Your Reaction?
  • 134
  • LEGIT15
  • WOW3
  • LOL2
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP3
  • OB4
  • SHANK4

Continue Reading

Instruction

WATCH: How to stop “flipping” through impact

Published

on

Are you flipping through impact? In this video, I share a great drill that will help you put better pressure on the golf ball at impact. By delivering the sweet spot correctly, you’ll create a better flight and get more distance from your shots immediately.

Your Reaction?
  • 24
  • LEGIT2
  • WOW1
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB1
  • SHANK9

Continue Reading

19th Hole

Facebook

Trending