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Is it possible for a weekend golfer to get near scratch?


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#61 Spooky67

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Posted 03 January 2018 - 08:27 PM

Great thread.

OP- if scratch is your goal, then go get it. Sacrifices may need to be made and time reallocated, but if it’s important to you make it happen. Good luck.


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#62 bigfatant

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Posted 03 January 2018 - 10:33 PM

View PostObee, on 03 January 2018 - 07:30 PM, said:

Lots and lots of scratch golfers never played as kids. I will grant that most adult scratch golfers did start as kids, but many (myself included) did not. It's definitely possible to get to scratch (or well below) starting the game in your twenties or later.

Greg Norman started golf late at age 15 and got to scratch within two years. Do you consider that as playing as a kid?
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#63 Dave D

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Posted 04 January 2018 - 03:53 AM

View Postbuckeyefl, on 03 January 2018 - 07:54 PM, said:

View PostDave D, on 03 January 2018 - 08:01 AM, said:

I'm uk scratch and average playing once a week in a year if I'm lucky. probably practice at the golf course the same.

I do however spend 10 minutes a couple of times a week hitting some putts in doors and doing some slow-mo practice swings.

It's doable but as others have said it depends on a lot of factors.

I'm fortunate that I have very good hand eye ball coordination, I'm generally very good at sports that involve hitting a ball with a stick, cricket, pool, table tennis

The value of your last sentence cant be overstated.

I would definitely agree, I've represented my county at 3 sports, golf, cricket and table tennis, so clearly I have something in me that makes me good at hitting a ball.

Without trying to sound like I'm blowing my own horn I've been to a few coaches/fitters who have been very impressed with my ability to match the face to the path to produce a shot to target, my hand eye ball coordination must have a huge effect on that.

I guess you can then debate whether that is natural or comes from years of wacking different balls with sticks?

Edited by Dave D, 04 January 2018 - 11:06 AM.

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#64 Swisstrader98

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Posted 04 January 2018 - 07:42 AM

View Postgentles, on 02 January 2018 - 09:44 PM, said:

OP - as you can tell from the replies its going to be a real challenge...you're certainly not the first on this forum to ask that exact question, but all you can do is give it your best.

If you are going to be a "scratch", you will have to be getting everything you possibly can out of your game. I've got buddies with so much talent who waste a bunch of shots and can still maintain a scratch...I've also got buddies who slap it around but make good decisions and avoid big mistakes...you're going to have to be the latter type of golfer.

I'll recommend three resources that might be helpful to you:
  • Buy "The Practice Manual" by Adam Young. It is dense, and theory based, but will absolutely help you get the most out of your limited practice time. Read this and you will understand what improving actually means.The most important part is to understand the difference between differential, variable, transference and technical practice and being clear about what you're trying to achieve
  • Adam Young also has a video series called "the strike plan" which focuses on building skills to improve strike. No matter how you swing it, building the ability to control strike is critical to improving
  • Buy a copy of "Lowest Score Wins" (google it), and a copy of Richie Hunt's Pro Golf Synopsis. Learning about strategy is a no brainer if you want to avoid wasting shots. These resources (as well as Scott Fawcetts DECADE program) help you understand how to "think" and make decisions on a golf course. The biggest light bulb for me here was the idea that a golf swing produces a shotgun shot pattern rather than a rifle, and strategy is about deciding which shotgun to shoot and where to aim it.
You can get everything mentioned above for less than $100...much better value than a new wedge or maybe even a golf lesson if you ask me.

One other thing not really mentioned elsewhere in this thread is to find the best players at your club and play with them regularly...doing this alone will make a massive difference. My game regressed by about 3-4 shots when I formed a regular group with guys on 15+ handicaps. Hard to stay sharp when you don't have the pressure of competition to drive you on.

All the best OP, hope this helps!

This last bit rings very true for me. I have this theory that over time you will only be as good as the best golfer in your regular group which could be a good thing or a bad thing.

I have a regular group I’ve played with for close to 20 years and guess what?? Even though the group initially ranged from a 30+ Handi to an 8, we all now have the exact same handicap give or take a stroke or two.

So it makes perfect sense to say that playing consistently with scratch golfers and understanding how they get it around the golf course will over time be one of the quickest ways to get you to improve.

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#65 bluedot

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Posted 04 January 2018 - 09:43 AM

I'm an old guy, and have been fortunate to play a lot of golf with a lot of good players over the years.  While I'm sure there are scratch golfers out there who only play once a week, I don't think it is something that is realistic to think of as a possibility.

One thing to remember is what "scratch" really means.  A true scratch golfer is scoring UNDER the course rating on the average of 5 rounds out of every 20, and five of his other rounds aren't very far above the course rating.  That is a consistently excellent standard of golf that is difficult to reach, and perhaps even more difficult to maintain.

Another way to think of it is the difficulty of going from one index to another as a percentage.  If I improve from a 10 to a 5 index, that's a HUGE improvement, right?  But mathematically, it is a much SMALLER improvement that going from 5 to scratch, even though the number of strokes is the same.  And those improvements become harder and harder to come by, much like diminishing returns in Economics.  If a golfer is a 10 largely because several times a round he hits a duck hook off the tee that insures a bogey or worse, correcting that might be relatively easy.  But adding 20 yards to his driving distance is much harder, and takes more time and effort.  And so on...

In truth, most of the guys that I know who are true "scratch" golfers have played for a long, long time, usually as kids and thru college, etc., and they were actually BETTER than scratch at some point. They have, and continue to, play competitively, and they play and practice a LOT.  There just isn't much other way to shoot those numbers.

It's always dangerous to go from the instance to the generalization, but I'll do it.  I have a friend who was a college All-American golfer at Auburn, then played professionally on Tour for several years, including both the US and British Opens.  He left the Tour and went into business, and eventually got his amateur status back, and now plays regularly, including some tournament play at the state level.  His current index is 2.8, and I think he'd tell you that to get back to scratch or better, he'd have to play and practice A LOT.


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#66 CallawayLefty

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Posted 04 January 2018 - 10:24 AM

View Postbluedot, on 04 January 2018 - 09:43 AM, said:

It's always dangerous to go from the instance to the generalization, but I'll do it.  I have a friend who was a college All-American golfer at Auburn, then played professionally on Tour for several years, including both the US and British Opens.  He left the Tour and went into business, and eventually got his amateur status back, and now plays regularly, including some tournament play at the state level.  His current index is 2.8, and I think he'd tell you that to get back to scratch or better, he'd have to play and practice A LOT.

Sounds like a 2.8 I wouldn't want to play for money.  You're talking about a guy who probably was a mid to high 60s golfer now being a high 70s low 80s golfer (about where most people around 2.8 shoot)?  Did he switch to left handed or something?  Is it Ian Baker Finch?

Edited by CallawayLefty, 04 January 2018 - 10:25 AM.


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#67 Lincoln_Arcadia

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Posted 04 January 2018 - 10:38 AM

View PostCallawayLefty, on 04 January 2018 - 10:24 AM, said:

Sounds like a 2.8 I wouldn't want to play for money.  You're talking about a guy who probably was a mid to high 60s golfer now being a high 70s low 80s golfer (about where most people around 2.8 shoot)?  Did he switch to left handed or something?  Is it Ian Baker Finch?

2.8 doesn't shoot high 70s and low 80s, unless you mean on a 78/155 rated course? I don't know of a handicap system that gives you that many strokes at that low of a handicap?

The OP should consider not trying to lower his handicap down to scratch, but to just play as well as he can one shot at a time. The other thing is if he plays golf once or twice a week to an 8 to 9 handicap, he gets enough short game practice. It's unlikely that practicing a lot more short game will improve his scores by more than a stroke or two?

Edited by Lincoln_Arcadia, 04 January 2018 - 10:43 AM.


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#68 CallawayLefty

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Posted 04 January 2018 - 10:54 AM

View PostLincoln_Arcadia, on 04 January 2018 - 10:38 AM, said:

View PostCallawayLefty, on 04 January 2018 - 10:24 AM, said:

Sounds like a 2.8 I wouldn't want to play for money.  You're talking about a guy who probably was a mid to high 60s golfer now being a high 70s low 80s golfer (about where most people around 2.8 shoot)?  Did he switch to left handed or something?  Is it Ian Baker Finch?

2.8 doesn't shoot high 70s and low 80s, unless you mean on a 78/155 rated course? I don't know of a handicap system that gives you that many strokes at that low of a handicap?

The OP should consider not trying to lower his handicap down to scratch, but to just play as well as he can one shot at a time. The other thing is if he plays golf once or twice a week to an 8 to 9 handicap, he gets enough short game practice. It's unlikely that practicing a lot more short game will improve his scores by more than a stroke or two?

Ok so this person shoots 74-77 half the time and worse the rest of the time.  I guess I should revise to mid 70s to low 80s.  Regardless, a guy who played on tour and was a college all american doesn't shoot these scores, so the whole story is just stupid anyway.

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#69 MtlJeff

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Posted 04 January 2018 - 10:56 AM

View Postbigfatant, on 03 January 2018 - 10:33 PM, said:

View PostObee, on 03 January 2018 - 07:30 PM, said:

Lots and lots of scratch golfers never played as kids. I will grant that most adult scratch golfers did start as kids, but many (myself included) did not. It's definitely possible to get to scratch (or well below) starting the game in your twenties or later.

Greg Norman started golf late at age 15 and got to scratch within two years. Do you consider that as playing as a kid?

Fwiw I started at 23 and first got to scratch under 30
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#70 Lincoln_Arcadia

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Posted 04 January 2018 - 11:19 AM

View PostCallawayLefty, on 04 January 2018 - 10:54 AM, said:

View PostLincoln_Arcadia, on 04 January 2018 - 10:38 AM, said:

View PostCallawayLefty, on 04 January 2018 - 10:24 AM, said:

Sounds like a 2.8 I wouldn't want to play for money.  You're talking about a guy who probably was a mid to high 60s golfer now being a high 70s low 80s golfer (about where most people around 2.8 shoot)?  Did he switch to left handed or something?  Is it Ian Baker Finch?

2.8 doesn't shoot high 70s and low 80s, unless you mean on a 78/155 rated course? I don't know of a handicap system that gives you that many strokes at that low of a handicap?

The OP should consider not trying to lower his handicap down to scratch, but to just play as well as he can one shot at a time. The other thing is if he plays golf once or twice a week to an 8 to 9 handicap, he gets enough short game practice. It's unlikely that practicing a lot more short game will improve his scores by more than a stroke or two?

Ok so this person shoots 74-77 half the time and worse the rest of the time.  I guess I should revise to mid 70s to low 80s.  Regardless, a guy who played on tour and was a college all american doesn't shoot these scores, so the whole story is just stupid anyway.

The poster stated that he's an "old guy", so I assume the 2.8 is an old player as well? 2.8 would be pretty awesome if you're like 85 years old.

Edited by Lincoln_Arcadia, 04 January 2018 - 11:20 AM.


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#71 iteachgolf

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Posted 04 January 2018 - 11:41 AM

View PostLincoln_Arcadia, on 04 January 2018 - 10:38 AM, said:

View PostCallawayLefty, on 04 January 2018 - 10:24 AM, said:

Sounds like a 2.8 I wouldn't want to play for money.  You're talking about a guy who probably was a mid to high 60s golfer now being a high 70s low 80s golfer (about where most people around 2.8 shoot)?  Did he switch to left handed or something?  Is it Ian Baker Finch?

2.8 doesn't shoot high 70s and low 80s, unless you mean on a 78/155 rated course? I don't know of a handicap system that gives you that many strokes at that low of a handicap?

The OP should consider not trying to lower his handicap down to scratch, but to just play as well as he can one shot at a time. The other thing is if he plays golf once or twice a week to an 8 to 9 handicap, he gets enough short game practice. It's unlikely that practicing a lot more short game will improve his scores by more than a stroke or two?

On courses rated around 74-75 a 2.8 would absolutely shoot high 70s to low 80s.  Remember the highest 50% of his scores donít count, so roughly 75% of his scores would be 77 or higher.  Iíd expect a former Tour player to play the back tees and be a member and a reasonable challenging course.

Hereís a famous plus handicap who shoots plenty of rounds in the high 70s and low 80s
Posted Image

Hereís a famous 3 handicap and this is on a golf course with a rating around 72.  At the course Smoltz plays his scores would be much higher.
Posted Image

Edited by iteachgolf, 04 January 2018 - 11:46 AM.


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#72 Sean2

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Posted 04 January 2018 - 11:43 AM

^^^^That is quite interesting.
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#73 CallawayLefty

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Posted 04 January 2018 - 11:53 AM

I think it's actually a somewhat important part of the discussion.  I think people who are not themselves scratch golfers or don't play with them assume that they shoot 72 every time.  Just doesn't happen.  Most scratch golfers I know (myself included) have handicap cards that look a lot like the above.  But of course, scale it back by 2 shots because John Smoltz is actually a +1.7.  By my quick count, our buddy John above, who is a +1.7, averages 76.7.  I think that's about my average at scratch, but playing courses that are rated lower on average.

EDIT: Just checked my stats sheet which included 18 rounds from last year prime season.  13 tournament rounds, 5 normal rounds.  Average was 77.0, average rating was 73.38 / 133.56, average differential of 3.07.  Low score of 70, high score of 85.

Edited by CallawayLefty, 04 January 2018 - 11:55 AM.


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#74 bluedot

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Posted 04 January 2018 - 12:25 PM

View Postiteachgolf, on 04 January 2018 - 11:41 AM, said:

View PostLincoln_Arcadia, on 04 January 2018 - 10:38 AM, said:

View PostCallawayLefty, on 04 January 2018 - 10:24 AM, said:

Sounds like a 2.8 I wouldn't want to play for money.  You're talking about a guy who probably was a mid to high 60s golfer now being a high 70s low 80s golfer (about where most people around 2.8 shoot)?  Did he switch to left handed or something?  Is it Ian Baker Finch?

2.8 doesn't shoot high 70s and low 80s, unless you mean on a 78/155 rated course? I don't know of a handicap system that gives you that many strokes at that low of a handicap?

The OP should consider not trying to lower his handicap down to scratch, but to just play as well as he can one shot at a time. The other thing is if he plays golf once or twice a week to an 8 to 9 handicap, he gets enough short game practice. It's unlikely that practicing a lot more short game will improve his scores by more than a stroke or two?

On courses rated around 74-75 a 2.8 would absolutely shoot high 70s to low 80s.  Remember the highest 50% of his scores don't count, so roughly 75% of his scores would be 77 or higher.  I'd expect a former Tour player to play the back tees and be a member and a reasonable challenging course.

Here's a famous plus handicap who shoots plenty of rounds in the high 70s and low 80s
Posted Image

Here's a famous 3 handicap and this is on a golf course with a rating around 72.  At the course Smoltz plays his scores would be much higher.
Posted Image

You are absolutely spot on.  My friend is a member at one of the toughest courses in Georgia (Pinetree CC) and wherever and whenever he plays, he plays the tips AND plays 1000% by the Rules.  He rarely plays a round of golf for which the course rating is below par, and the slope ratings are in the 130's and 140's.  His last 20 differentials look remarkably like Jake Owen's; they range from a 2.1 to an 8.3.  FWIW, the 2.1 was on a 72.4/138 golf course, and the 8.3 was on a 73.4/145 course, so we aren't talking about garden-variety golf courses.

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#75 bluedot

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Posted 04 January 2018 - 12:26 PM

View PostLincoln_Arcadia, on 04 January 2018 - 11:19 AM, said:

View PostCallawayLefty, on 04 January 2018 - 10:54 AM, said:

View PostLincoln_Arcadia, on 04 January 2018 - 10:38 AM, said:

View PostCallawayLefty, on 04 January 2018 - 10:24 AM, said:

Sounds like a 2.8 I wouldn't want to play for money.  You're talking about a guy who probably was a mid to high 60s golfer now being a high 70s low 80s golfer (about where most people around 2.8 shoot)?  Did he switch to left handed or something?  Is it Ian Baker Finch?

2.8 doesn't shoot high 70s and low 80s, unless you mean on a 78/155 rated course? I don't know of a handicap system that gives you that many strokes at that low of a handicap?

The OP should consider not trying to lower his handicap down to scratch, but to just play as well as he can one shot at a time. The other thing is if he plays golf once or twice a week to an 8 to 9 handicap, he gets enough short game practice. It's unlikely that practicing a lot more short game will improve his scores by more than a stroke or two?

Ok so this person shoots 74-77 half the time and worse the rest of the time.  I guess I should revise to mid 70s to low 80s.  Regardless, a guy who played on tour and was a college all american doesn't shoot these scores, so the whole story is just stupid anyway.

The poster stated that he's an "old guy", so I assume the 2.8 is an old player as well? 2.8 would be pretty awesome if you're like 85 years old.

He's in his mid-50's.


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#76 bluedot

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Posted 04 January 2018 - 12:29 PM

View PostCallawayLefty, on 04 January 2018 - 10:54 AM, said:

View PostLincoln_Arcadia, on 04 January 2018 - 10:38 AM, said:

View PostCallawayLefty, on 04 January 2018 - 10:24 AM, said:

Sounds like a 2.8 I wouldn't want to play for money.  You're talking about a guy who probably was a mid to high 60s golfer now being a high 70s low 80s golfer (about where most people around 2.8 shoot)?  Did he switch to left handed or something?  Is it Ian Baker Finch?

2.8 doesn't shoot high 70s and low 80s, unless you mean on a 78/155 rated course? I don't know of a handicap system that gives you that many strokes at that low of a handicap?

The OP should consider not trying to lower his handicap down to scratch, but to just play as well as he can one shot at a time. The other thing is if he plays golf once or twice a week to an 8 to 9 handicap, he gets enough short game practice. It's unlikely that practicing a lot more short game will improve his scores by more than a stroke or two?

Ok so this person shoots 74-77 half the time and worse the rest of the time.  I guess I should revise to mid 70s to low 80s.  Regardless, a guy who played on tour and was a college all american doesn't shoot these scores, so the whole story is just stupid anyway.

The story is true; the fact that you think it's "stupid" shows only that you don't likely don't understand some of the basics about indexes, course ratings, differentials, and the like.

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#77 CallawayLefty

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Posted 04 January 2018 - 12:29 PM

View Postbluedot, on 04 January 2018 - 12:25 PM, said:

View Postiteachgolf, on 04 January 2018 - 11:41 AM, said:

View PostLincoln_Arcadia, on 04 January 2018 - 10:38 AM, said:

View PostCallawayLefty, on 04 January 2018 - 10:24 AM, said:

Sounds like a 2.8 I wouldn't want to play for money.  You're talking about a guy who probably was a mid to high 60s golfer now being a high 70s low 80s golfer (about where most people around 2.8 shoot)?  Did he switch to left handed or something?  Is it Ian Baker Finch?

2.8 doesn't shoot high 70s and low 80s, unless you mean on a 78/155 rated course? I don't know of a handicap system that gives you that many strokes at that low of a handicap?

The OP should consider not trying to lower his handicap down to scratch, but to just play as well as he can one shot at a time. The other thing is if he plays golf once or twice a week to an 8 to 9 handicap, he gets enough short game practice. It's unlikely that practicing a lot more short game will improve his scores by more than a stroke or two?

On courses rated around 74-75 a 2.8 would absolutely shoot high 70s to low 80s.  Remember the highest 50% of his scores don't count, so roughly 75% of his scores would be 77 or higher.  I'd expect a former Tour player to play the back tees and be a member and a reasonable challenging course.

Here's a famous plus handicap who shoots plenty of rounds in the high 70s and low 80s


Here's a famous 3 handicap and this is on a golf course with a rating around 72.  At the course Smoltz plays his scores would be much higher.


You are absolutely spot on.  My friend is a member at one of the toughest courses in Georgia (Pinetree CC) and wherever and whenever he plays, he plays the tips AND plays 1000% by the Rules.  He rarely plays a round of golf for which the course rating is below par, and the slope ratings are in the 130's and 140's.  His last 20 differentials look remarkably like Jake Owen's; they range from a 2.1 to an 8.3.  FWIW, the 2.1 was on a 72.4/138 golf course, and the 8.3 was on a 73.4/145 course, so we aren't talking about garden-variety golf courses.

I realize you don't probably want to give names...but who the heck is this guy?  You're talking about a former D1 All American, tour pro, US Open and British Open contender whose best score in his last 20 is a 76?  I believe you, but that's the biggest outlier I can imagine.  You'd think he'd be able to shoot 76 blindfolded.

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#78 CallawayLefty

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Posted 04 January 2018 - 12:30 PM

View Postbluedot, on 04 January 2018 - 12:29 PM, said:

View PostCallawayLefty, on 04 January 2018 - 10:54 AM, said:

View PostLincoln_Arcadia, on 04 January 2018 - 10:38 AM, said:

View PostCallawayLefty, on 04 January 2018 - 10:24 AM, said:

Sounds like a 2.8 I wouldn't want to play for money.  You're talking about a guy who probably was a mid to high 60s golfer now being a high 70s low 80s golfer (about where most people around 2.8 shoot)?  Did he switch to left handed or something?  Is it Ian Baker Finch?

2.8 doesn't shoot high 70s and low 80s, unless you mean on a 78/155 rated course? I don't know of a handicap system that gives you that many strokes at that low of a handicap?

The OP should consider not trying to lower his handicap down to scratch, but to just play as well as he can one shot at a time. The other thing is if he plays golf once or twice a week to an 8 to 9 handicap, he gets enough short game practice. It's unlikely that practicing a lot more short game will improve his scores by more than a stroke or two?

Ok so this person shoots 74-77 half the time and worse the rest of the time.  I guess I should revise to mid 70s to low 80s.  Regardless, a guy who played on tour and was a college all american doesn't shoot these scores, so the whole story is just stupid anyway.

The story is true; the fact that you think it's "stupid" shows only that you don't likely don't understand some of the basics about indexes, course ratings, differentials, and the like.

Posted below yours.  I understand the basics of indexes quite well, unlike about 80% of other people who think that a scratch golfer shoots 72 every time.  I'm more curious about this guy you're talking about.  His game tanked!!!!

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#79 Big Ben

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Posted 04 January 2018 - 12:35 PM

We are marginalizing rounds in the 70's a bit aren't we? What percentage of the golfing population shoots even one round a year in the 70's or ever! My point being for some of us shooting a 76-79 is a regular occurrence but for MOST of the golfers on this planet it's far from common. BB

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#80 Majeebus

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Posted 04 January 2018 - 12:40 PM

I would recommend game golf if you don't already have it.

The meta data it provides could easily take off 2 to 3 strokes per round.

Here's an example...I have had my game golf for about three years now and have put around 280 rounds on it.  I know from game golf that when I'm 150 yards from green and use my nine iron I tend to hit more tot he left.  So, 63 percent of all 9 iron shots I take to the green are on the left side of the green or the left of the green entirely.  I then error a tad to the right on my shots and start to hone in on lowering that percentage.  It seriously is very helpful!


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#81 CallawayLefty

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Posted 04 January 2018 - 12:42 PM

View PostLincoln_Arcadia, on 04 January 2018 - 10:38 AM, said:

View PostCallawayLefty, on 04 January 2018 - 10:24 AM, said:

Sounds like a 2.8 I wouldn't want to play for money.  You're talking about a guy who probably was a mid to high 60s golfer now being a high 70s low 80s golfer (about where most people around 2.8 shoot)?  Did he switch to left handed or something?  Is it Ian Baker Finch?

2.8 doesn't shoot high 70s and low 80s, unless you mean on a 78/155 rated course? I don't know of a handicap system that gives you that many strokes at that low of a handicap?

The OP should consider not trying to lower his handicap down to scratch, but to just play as well as he can one shot at a time. The other thing is if he plays golf once or twice a week to an 8 to 9 handicap, he gets enough short game practice. It's unlikely that practicing a lot more short game will improve his scores by more than a stroke or two?

So just for the record, the 2.8 he was referencing has a low of 76 in his last 20.  Care to rethink the above?  Also, you're right, a 2.8 that played only a 78/155 course would AVERAGE 82 for his LOW 10, with the 10 being thrown out being even higher than that.  If he shot in the high 70s and low 80s, he'd be scratch or likely better.  People really don't get how handicaps work.

Edited by CallawayLefty, 04 January 2018 - 12:44 PM.


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#82 Lincoln_Arcadia

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Posted 04 January 2018 - 01:17 PM

View PostCallawayLefty, on 04 January 2018 - 12:42 PM, said:

View PostLincoln_Arcadia, on 04 January 2018 - 10:38 AM, said:

View PostCallawayLefty, on 04 January 2018 - 10:24 AM, said:

Sounds like a 2.8 I wouldn't want to play for money.  You're talking about a guy who probably was a mid to high 60s golfer now being a high 70s low 80s golfer (about where most people around 2.8 shoot)?  Did he switch to left handed or something?  Is it Ian Baker Finch?

2.8 doesn't shoot high 70s and low 80s, unless you mean on a 78/155 rated course? I don't know of a handicap system that gives you that many strokes at that low of a handicap?

The OP should consider not trying to lower his handicap down to scratch, but to just play as well as he can one shot at a time. The other thing is if he plays golf once or twice a week to an 8 to 9 handicap, he gets enough short game practice. It's unlikely that practicing a lot more short game will improve his scores by more than a stroke or two?

So just for the record, the 2.8 he was referencing has a low of 76 in his last 20.  Care to rethink the above?  Also, you're right, a 2.8 that played only a 78/155 course would AVERAGE 82 for his LOW 10, with the 10 being thrown out being even higher than that.  If he shot in the high 70s and low 80s, he'd be scratch or likely better.  People really don't get how handicaps work.

For what it's worth, I was thinking the scoring range you described are closer to my scores on the easy courses I play with an occasional low 90s score thrown into my 20.

Didn't mean to have people question your ability to score properly.

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#83 bluedot

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Posted 04 January 2018 - 01:29 PM

View PostCallawayLefty, on 04 January 2018 - 12:29 PM, said:

View Postbluedot, on 04 January 2018 - 12:25 PM, said:

View Postiteachgolf, on 04 January 2018 - 11:41 AM, said:

View PostLincoln_Arcadia, on 04 January 2018 - 10:38 AM, said:

View PostCallawayLefty, on 04 January 2018 - 10:24 AM, said:

Sounds like a 2.8 I wouldn't want to play for money.  You're talking about a guy who probably was a mid to high 60s golfer now being a high 70s low 80s golfer (about where most people around 2.8 shoot)?  Did he switch to left handed or something?  Is it Ian Baker Finch?

2.8 doesn't shoot high 70s and low 80s, unless you mean on a 78/155 rated course? I don't know of a handicap system that gives you that many strokes at that low of a handicap?

The OP should consider not trying to lower his handicap down to scratch, but to just play as well as he can one shot at a time. The other thing is if he plays golf once or twice a week to an 8 to 9 handicap, he gets enough short game practice. It's unlikely that practicing a lot more short game will improve his scores by more than a stroke or two?

On courses rated around 74-75 a 2.8 would absolutely shoot high 70s to low 80s.  Remember the highest 50% of his scores don't count, so roughly 75% of his scores would be 77 or higher.  I'd expect a former Tour player to play the back tees and be a member and a reasonable challenging course.

Here's a famous plus handicap who shoots plenty of rounds in the high 70s and low 80s


Here's a famous 3 handicap and this is on a golf course with a rating around 72.  At the course Smoltz plays his scores would be much higher.


You are absolutely spot on.  My friend is a member at one of the toughest courses in Georgia (Pinetree CC) and wherever and whenever he plays, he plays the tips AND plays 1000% by the Rules.  He rarely plays a round of golf for which the course rating is below par, and the slope ratings are in the 130's and 140's.  His last 20 differentials look remarkably like Jake Owen's; they range from a 2.1 to an 8.3.  FWIW, the 2.1 was on a 72.4/138 golf course, and the 8.3 was on a 73.4/145 course, so we aren't talking about garden-variety golf courses.

I realize you don't probably want to give names...but who the heck is this guy?  You're talking about a former D1 All American, tour pro, US Open and British Open contender whose best score in his last 20 is a 76?  I believe you, but that's the biggest outlier I can imagine.  You'd think he'd be able to shoot 76 blindfolded.

Never said he was a "contender" in the US or British Opens; I said he played.  He was on Tour for 4 or 5 years, mostly in Europe.  Never won, became a teaching pro for a few years, and then went into business.

As to shooting 76 "blindfolded", I'll tell you this story.  A couple of buddies and I took him to our club, which he had never played.  It's a good track, and he played the tees we generally play rather than the tips (69.8/134).

He shot even par, and didn't make a putt outside 10' all day; it was a very tidy round of golf, especially for a course he had never seen or played, which is sort of the real-life equivalent of "blindfolded", right. Hit fairways, hit greens, got up and down when he missed the green, no penalty strokes; all that stuff that really good golfers do.  Made a couple of bogeys, made a couple of birdies.

For which his differential was 2.2.  Not zero; 2.2.

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#84 bluedot

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Posted 04 January 2018 - 01:43 PM

View PostCallawayLefty, on 04 January 2018 - 12:42 PM, said:

View PostLincoln_Arcadia, on 04 January 2018 - 10:38 AM, said:

View PostCallawayLefty, on 04 January 2018 - 10:24 AM, said:

Sounds like a 2.8 I wouldn't want to play for money.  You're talking about a guy who probably was a mid to high 60s golfer now being a high 70s low 80s golfer (about where most people around 2.8 shoot)?  Did he switch to left handed or something?  Is it Ian Baker Finch?

2.8 doesn't shoot high 70s and low 80s, unless you mean on a 78/155 rated course? I don't know of a handicap system that gives you that many strokes at that low of a handicap?

The OP should consider not trying to lower his handicap down to scratch, but to just play as well as he can one shot at a time. The other thing is if he plays golf once or twice a week to an 8 to 9 handicap, he gets enough short game practice. It's unlikely that practicing a lot more short game will improve his scores by more than a stroke or two?

So just for the record, the 2.8 he was referencing has a low of 76 in his last 20.  Care to rethink the above?  Also, you're right, a 2.8 that played only a 78/155 course would AVERAGE 82 for his LOW 10, with the 10 being thrown out being even higher than that.  If he shot in the high 70s and low 80s, he'd be scratch or likely better.  People really don't get how handicaps work.

What did I miss?  Where did anybody post about a 2.8 whose low round in the last 20 was a 76?  I didn't.

The guy I am referencing, and I will NOT give his name, has a 71 and a couple of 72's in his last 20 rounds, with 3 plus differentials.  Which is about what you would expect from a 2.8, and which illustrates perfectly the difficulty of being a true scratch golfer.  (And btw, he never practices anymore, save hitting a few range balls prior to a round, or if there is a tournament coming up.)

And no, you would NOT want to play my friend for money.  But not because his handicap is wrong, or anything like that.  He has played real golf his whole life, and plays just as well for money and in tournament rounds as he does in a casual round, if not better.  If anything, he needs the juice of competition to make him interested at this point in his life.

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#85 Lincoln_Arcadia

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Posted 04 January 2018 - 02:56 PM

View Postbluedot, on 04 January 2018 - 01:43 PM, said:

The guy I am referencing, and I will NOT give his name, has a 71 and a couple of 72's in his last 20 rounds, with 3 plus differentials.  Which is about what you would expect from a 2.8, and which illustrates perfectly the difficulty of being a true scratch golfer.  (And btw, he never practices anymore, save hitting a few range balls prior to a round, or if there is a tournament coming up.)

I agree that to get to a 2.8 or even more so, scratch is really tough. Most scratch I know offset their bogeys with birdies. They always seem to have a reasonable chance at birdies from their superior ball striking ability and down the middle tee shots.


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#86 naval2006

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Posted 04 January 2018 - 08:05 PM

Awesome post, OP

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#87 dap

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Posted 04 January 2018 - 09:28 PM

This just proves breaking 80 is an accomplishment. Even a plus handicap like Smoltz can't guarantee he will break 80 every time he tees it up and he's likely no weekend player. Eight out of his 20 scores are over 80

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#88 thegooddoctor

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Posted 04 January 2018 - 09:39 PM

I started the same thread summer 2016, I think I was mid 4 or 5. I played about 3-4 times a month at the time, now 4-5 times a month but practice 2-3 times a week. wondered if I could get to scratch. was down to low 3s this year finished at 4.3 when season ended. Made/making big swing changes right now. My goal for scratch was end of next summer. I think its possible but going to be very very tough. I have picked up about 5-8 mph with driver from overswing training ( the 3 weighted clubs that people talk about) to get my actual with a driver normal swing to 102-107 range. BTW regarding HC system, my average over par across all my round is 8.3 and thats and a course with around 71/128 for most of the rounds, so to be scratch my guess is average over par would be 4 but have to have some low ones. I think people forget that the HC throws out the worst half of your scores and is only 90% after that of what you shoot over par ( on an average course for slope and rating). One of my friends is a +1 and his average over par is like 3
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#89 thegooddoctor

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Posted 04 January 2018 - 09:41 PM

View Postdap, on 04 January 2018 - 09:28 PM, said:

This just proves breaking 80 is an accomplishment. Even a plus handicap like Smoltz can't guarantee he will break 80 every time he tees it up and he's likely no weekend player. Eight out of his 20 scores are over 80
I am more impressed that he played 7 rounds on 10/08.... also guilty of bulk entering until I joined a club this year
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#90 Gamble Gamble

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Posted 04 January 2018 - 11:25 PM

View Postthegooddoctor, on 04 January 2018 - 09:41 PM, said:

View Postdap, on 04 January 2018 - 09:28 PM, said:

This just proves breaking 80 is an accomplishment. Even a plus handicap like Smoltz can't guarantee he will break 80 every time he tees it up and he's likely no weekend player. Eight out of his 20 scores are over 80
I am more impressed that he played 7 rounds on 10/08.... also guilty of bulk entering until I joined a club this year

I believe that is October of 2008.

Which means he probably is happy with his cap and doesnít want it to move... or he just DGAF

Edited by Gamble Gamble, 04 January 2018 - 11:26 PM.


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