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Single digit golfers, best advice.


75 replies to this topic

#1 Steven19114

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Posted 08 April 2018 - 10:42 AM

So what is the best advice or technique that really helped your game improve? If you can look back at when you started, what would you have said to yourself.

Mostly talking full swing etc, I know short game will cut a ton of shots of your score but when you are s*** like me you tend to struggle to get to the greens to start with.

cheers


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#2 The General

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Posted 08 April 2018 - 10:45 AM

Alignment, maintain balance after contact, and focusing on a specific target and most importantly: swing 80%

Very General, but it’s a start.

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#3 Jagpilotohio

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Posted 08 April 2018 - 10:50 AM

1. Spend at least 50% or your practice time with some variety of wedge in your hand on real grass from different distances and lies.

2.  Always hit AT SOMETHING on the range and actually give a damn about the result as if you are actually playing golf.  

  If you are just randomly swinging and launching the ball aimlessly into space you are not practicing, you are just getting exercise.

Edit....and alignment sticks are your friend.  Use them religiously.  SOOOO many people have no idea where they are aiming.

Edited by Jagpilotohio, 08 April 2018 - 10:52 AM.

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#4 davep043

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Posted 08 April 2018 - 12:03 PM

To get to single-digits, you have to stop wasting shots.
First priority is to minimize penalties and forced sideways shots, and that's entirely full swing stuff.  I recommend lessons from a good instructor, or personalized video-based online help.  The last thing I'd recommend is trying to diagnose and correct your swing on your own, you don't know enough to do that.  Once you get your instruction, practice with a purpose.  If your instructor gives you drills, do the damn drills.  If it feels funny, there's a chance that you're actually changing something.  If it feels good, chances are that you're not changing a thing.  Range time while working on a swing change means the results of each swing don't have to be good, you should be more concerned about making the correct new move.  The results will come.

Hit more greens.  Again, full swing stuff.  Also, aim for the center of the green, both side-to-side and front to back.  Go for a tucked pin only with short irons.  You're better off putting from the other side of the green than you are chipping from the short side.

Stop 3-putting.  Work on making putts from 6 feet and in, work on speed control from 30 feet or more.  Its a waste to work too much on 10 to 25 foot putts, you'll never make very many, and you'll seldom 3-putt from those distances.

When chipping, hit the damn green.  Don't try the risky flop shot, get the ball on the green and give yourself a putt.  Any putt is better than chipping a second time.

As others have said, pay attention to alignment, use your clubs if you don't have special sticks.  The pros do it every time they warm up or practice, the rest of us should do it too.  

Last, enjoy the journey.  Golf is supposed to be fun.  Even working on the golf swing should be fun, otherwise you won't feel like doing it.

Edited by davep043, 08 April 2018 - 12:04 PM.


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#5 finleysg

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Posted 08 April 2018 - 01:57 PM

View Postdavep043, on 08 April 2018 - 12:03 PM, said:

To get to single-digits, you have to stop wasting shots.
First priority is to minimize penalties and forced sideways shots, and that's entirely full swing stuff.  I recommend lessons from a good instructor, or personalized video-based online help.  The last thing I'd recommend is trying to diagnose and correct your swing on your own, you don't know enough to do that.  Once you get your instruction, practice with a purpose.  If your instructor gives you drills, do the damn drills.  If it feels funny, there's a chance that you're actually changing something.  If it feels good, chances are that you're not changing a thing.  Range time while working on a swing change means the results of each swing don't have to be good, you should be more concerned about making the correct new move.  The results will come.

Hit more greens.  Again, full swing stuff.  Also, aim for the center of the green, both side-to-side and front to back.  Go for a tucked pin only with short irons.  You're better off putting from the other side of the green than you are chipping from the short side.

Stop 3-putting.  Work on making putts from 6 feet and in, work on speed control from 30 feet or more.  Its a waste to work too much on 10 to 25 foot putts, you'll never make very many, and you'll seldom 3-putt from those distances.

When chipping, hit the damn green.  Don't try the risky flop shot, get the ball on the green and give yourself a putt.  Any putt is better than chipping a second time.

As others have said, pay attention to alignment, use your clubs if you don't have special sticks.  The pros do it every time they warm up or practice, the rest of us should do it too.  

Last, enjoy the journey.  Golf is supposed to be fun.  Even working on the golf swing should be fun, otherwise you won't feel like doing it.

Hard to improve on this advice. Well put.

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#6 torbill

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Posted 08 April 2018 - 04:40 PM

View Postdavep043, on 08 April 2018 - 12:03 PM, said:

To get to single-digits, you have to stop wasting shots.
First priority is to minimize penalties and forced sideways shots, and that's entirely full swing stuff.  I recommend lessons from a good instructor, or personalized video-based online help.  The last thing I'd recommend is trying to diagnose and correct your swing on your own, you don't know enough to do that.  Once you get your instruction, practice with a purpose.  If your instructor gives you drills, do the damn drills.  If it feels funny, there's a chance that you're actually changing something.  If it feels good, chances are that you're not changing a thing.  Range time while working on a swing change means the results of each swing don't have to be good, you should be more concerned about making the correct new move.  The results will come.

Hit more greens.  Again, full swing stuff.  Also, aim for the center of the green, both side-to-side and front to back.  Go for a tucked pin only with short irons.  You're better off putting from the other side of the green than you are chipping from the short side.

Stop 3-putting.  Work on making putts from 6 feet and in, work on speed control from 30 feet or more.  Its a waste to work too much on 10 to 25 foot putts, you'll never make very many, and you'll seldom 3-putt from those distances.

When chipping, hit the damn green.  Don't try the risky flop shot, get the ball on the green and give yourself a putt.  Any putt is better than chipping a second time.

As others have said, pay attention to alignment, use your clubs if you don't have special sticks.  The pros do it every time they warm up or practice, the rest of us should do it too.  

Last, enjoy the journey.  Golf is supposed to be fun.  Even working on the golf swing should be fun, otherwise you won't feel like doing it.

This response is really good.  

I think it was Hogan who said that he averaged 4 really good shots per round, and that what separated a good round from a bad one was how well he managed his bad shots.  What I have learned is that Hogan was exactly right.  If you want to get better, improve your misses, don’t waste shots.

How about specifics?  Well, the OP came from a high handicapper.  How does Hogan’s comment apply to a high handicapper?  If you are typical of a high handicapper you are probably hitting shots that curve a lot and inconsistently, and you are probably making bad contact often.  And you are totally confused by the endless stream of conflicing advice and instruction, and you just don’t know what to listen to or to try to do.

Old sayings such as drive for show and putt for dough are distractions.  Face it, what good is it to have a great short game if you can’t get to the green?  If you want to be a low handicap player you need to get to the green reliably, and to do this you need to keep your tee shot in the fairway, and to do this you need to hit straight shots.  This is where I would be focused, were I a normal high handicap player.  And if you can achieve this, you iron shots will undoubtedly be straight, too.

What has helped me most to hit straight shots is to change my swing to reduce the number of upper body moving parts.  Terrible inconsistency can occur due to upper body dynamics.  You have six joints in your arms and wrists - in automotive terms, you have two universal joints in your shoulders, two universal joints in your wrists, and two knuckle joints in your elbows.  A pro can manage these moving parts better than we can, because he is younger and probably hits about 600 balls a day, and it is his full time job.  Amateurs like us will typically get wildly out of sync in an unimaginable number of ways with all these moving parts.  

The first thing that any engineer would do with this sort of “mechanism” would be to eliminate as many of these moving parts as possible.  This is the key thing that I have done.  I have made a very big change, moving from a rotary swing to the Ballard method.  With this method, I get much better control of my shoulder and elbow joints.  I also grip the club higher up in the palms of the hands, as opposed to the fingers, which moves the club closer to the wrist joint hence reducing another source of inconsistency.  

The effect of getting these joints under control is straight shots, time after time. I hit fairways.  I hit greens.  I have as much confidence in getting a straight shot out of my driver as I do with my five iron.  And guess what? Straight shots mean you have a squared up clubface.  A squared up clubface means better contact.  Better contact with a squared up club face means longer shots - MUCH longer.  So, you kil two birds with one stone.

If I were a typical high handicapper, I would look for a method that is proven to work, that takes moving parts out of the swing, and that I can physically perform
at my age.  For me it has been the Ballard method.  Ballard’s method is proven, through major PGA winners.  And I can physically do it.  You might find another that satisfies you.  Once you pick a method that you know is fundamentally sound and that you can physically perform, shut out all other voices.  Stop reading magazine tips, stop listening to TV analysts.  Just work on the method you have chosen, and do not lose focus and become confused by all of the conflicting advice that is out there.

I used to be a 3.  Then I got old and became a 5.  Then I got my upper body joints in control (mostly, grin), and now I have a good enough long game to be very near scratch because I hit fairways and greens.  I will get back to a 3, but it is going to take a lot of work on chipping and, mostly, putting.  But as far as I am concerned success for amateurs like us starts with hitting straight, full swing golf shots.

I think that you have asked a great question.  Good luck!



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#7 SNIPERBBB

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Posted 08 April 2018 - 06:23 PM

Getting off the tee. Period. Just getting near the green in regulation and getting up and down 10 of 18 times is shooting 80 with no doubles or worse.
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#8 getitdaily

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Posted 08 April 2018 - 06:59 PM

Alignment, posture, and setup are hugely important. Work on them. Make sure they're right.

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#9 nsxguy

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Posted 08 April 2018 - 07:17 PM

Doesn't sound to me like the guy is asking about "course management" which a lot of you are suggesting; but the swing itself.

There's a reason every golf instruction book I've ever read starts with the grip.

Swing plane, sequencing and making sure you rotate around your body/spine and not raising up and "throwing" your body down and forward towards the target.

Make sure your head stays vertically still and keep it back as best you can. You can move it a little bit laterally but up and down will cause poor contact, especially fat and thin hits.

Swing plane - most important is the downswing of course as that's when you hit the ball, but it's much easier to keep the downswing on place if the backswing and position at the top are on plane as well.

Backswing - with your hands about hip high the butt of the club should be pointed at the ball. If it points outisde the ball you've pulled the club back too far inside. If pointing between the ball and your toes you've taken it back too far outside.

At the top - pointing roughly parallel to your target line although the shorter the iron (and hence the swing) the more the shaft will point left of the target line (if you're a righty).

Coming back down, again about hip high you should mirror the takeaway at that same point.

If the butt of your club is point at the ball you're good. Pointing outside the ball and your coming from the inside and a good strike will generally push/draw/hook (depending on where the face is pointing at impact of course). Butt pointing inside the ball and the likelihood is you will pull/fade/slice the ball - again depending on the face angle of course.

Sequencing - first back, last forward. You "wind up". Club head back first, then arms, then the shoulders and finally the hips rotate. From the top, just the opposite. You're now "unwinding". Lower body moves forward first as you shift your weight slightly forward, then the hips, then the shoulders and finally the arms/hands/club head combo.

While this is in no way any professional advice, hope this helps.
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#10 dhartmann34

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Posted 08 April 2018 - 07:52 PM

1. Take a 3/4 swing on all "full" shots. In reality, it'll most likely be a full swing, but it'll give you more consistent contact, better dispersion and less over swinging.

2. Don't be afraid to club up.


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#11 vanillafunk616

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Posted 08 April 2018 - 08:00 PM

Being single digits pretty much comes down to keeping it in play off the tee, not 3 putting, and getting up and down half the time.  Practice chipping more.

Edited by vanillafunk616, 08 April 2018 - 08:01 PM.


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#12 BrianMcG

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Posted 08 April 2018 - 08:01 PM

Hit lots of balls.

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#13 Steven19114

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Posted 09 April 2018 - 01:19 AM

Thanks a lot for the replies.

I have realized that taking advice from to many people can be very destructive. Ive went from a 19 handicap to someone who can't break 100.

Thats why im thinking of starting over fresh from the start and looking for general advice as to what to go with.
I will do some research on Ballard and see what he is about.

Thanks again!

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#14 GMR

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Posted 09 April 2018 - 03:01 AM

May not apply to everyone but for me a big jump in scoring came once I made a swing change to neutralise the swing path.  Previously I'd have good days and shoot in the 70s when my swing felt good, but also horrible days that could stretch to the 90s when things were off. Even on the good days though I always felt like I was one bad swing away from a disaster. Once I was able to get path closer to 0 (instead of massively inside-out), my bad shots and bad days have improved dramatically. I now have days where everything feels awful swing-wise but I'm still able to get in with something in the 70s or low 80s at worst, just because my bad shots (which is sometimes most of them) are much more under control and don't result in big numbers.

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#15 jerebear21

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Posted 09 April 2018 - 05:41 AM

The 40-60 yard pitch shot seems to be neglected a lot.

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#16 Matchplay10033

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Posted 09 April 2018 - 06:04 AM

My best advice is to PLAY as much golf as possible.  Go out in the evenings and hit multiple approach shots from different positions and lies.   Keep a note book and find what feels good for you and what is working.    Keep track of all your stats, greens, putting, fairways,  sand saves, short game saves etc.   Once you determine where you are losing the most strokes go from there.   When I got back into the game I was wild off the tee and would often go OB 4-6 times a round.   My first goal was to control that and get a predictable controllable driver flight.   Then I worked on getting a go to shot for those tight uncomfortable tee shots. It is a constant process of evaluation and improving.   I would find a pro to sort of keep an eye on my swing and thought process as you start this quest.   Every day I actually go out and work on my game on the course I discover something new.

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#17 DLiver

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Posted 09 April 2018 - 06:39 AM

Honestly, I think there is a huge difference between a 1 HC and a 9. At the high end of single digits, you should be looking at swing improvements to improve your consistency. At the low end, you need to refine all aspects of your game and identify where you are losing strokes. A low SD will drop strokes here and there, making finding improvement is a subtle process.

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#18 GMR

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Posted 09 April 2018 - 06:55 AM

View PostDLiver, on 09 April 2018 - 06:39 AM, said:

Honestly, I think there is a huge difference between a 1 HC and a 9. At the high end of single digits, you should be looking at swing improvements to improve your consistency. At the low end, you need to refine all aspects of your game and identify where you are losing strokes. A low SD will drop strokes here and there, making finding improvement is a subtle process.
Given that the OP is listed as a 19-hcp, I am guessing that he's most interested in the learnings people who have made it to single digits had that helped them get sub-10.  Agree with you that getting from 5 to scratch is a whole different ballgame.

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#19 SNIPERBBB

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Posted 09 April 2018 - 07:08 AM

Another thing is...don't fight your shot shape. Imagine a set of goal posts with one being your best shot and the other being your normal shot. Aim so your normal shot is in good shape and your best shot won't hurt you. Too many high caps do the opposite
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#20 Steven19114

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Posted 09 April 2018 - 09:37 AM

View PostSNIPERBBB, on 09 April 2018 - 07:08 AM, said:

Another thing is...don't fight your shot shape. Imagine a set of goal posts with one being your best shot and the other being your normal shot. Aim so your normal shot is in good shape and your best shot won't hurt you. Too many high caps do the opposite

I like this, thanks a lot.


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#21 davep043

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Posted 09 April 2018 - 09:50 AM

View Postnsxguy, on 08 April 2018 - 07:17 PM, said:

Doesn't sound to me like the guy is asking about "course management" which a lot of you are suggesting; but the swing itself.

.......

While this is in no way any professional advice, hope this helps.
I re-read the original post, and I agree.  My swing advice was in my first paragraph...Find a good instructor.   My reasoning is simple.  Over 90% of us active golfers, maybe over 99%, have nowhere near the training and experience to help you identify the important changes you need to make, and to tell you how to make them.  100% of us can't help you without knowing a bit about your game, and seeing your swing.  That means that any bit of advice on swing mechanics you get here has  a chance of being completely wrong for you.  There are lots of good bits so far, and very little I disagree with, but any specific advice is at best a shot in the dark.  I don't mean to insult any of the other folks who are trying to help you, its possible that there are a few highly qualified instructors who have weighed in, but they still have ZERO information to base their advice on.  If you really want to improve, get some good instruction.

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#22 nsxguy

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Posted 09 April 2018 - 10:05 AM

View Postdavep043, on 09 April 2018 - 09:50 AM, said:

View Postnsxguy, on 08 April 2018 - 07:17 PM, said:

Doesn't sound to me like the guy is asking about "course management" which a lot of you are suggesting; but the swing itself.

.......

While this is in no way any professional advice, hope this helps.
I re-read the original post, and I agree.  My swing advice was in my first paragraph...Find a good instructor.   My reasoning is simple.  Over 90% of us active golfers, maybe over 99%, have nowhere near the training and experience to help you identify the important changes you need to make, and to tell you how to make them.  100% of us can't help you without knowing a bit about your game, and seeing your swing.  That means that any bit of advice on swing mechanics you get here has  a chance of being completely wrong for you.  There are lots of good bits so far, and very little I disagree with, but any specific advice is at best a shot in the dark.  I don't mean to insult any of the other folks who are trying to help you, its possible that there are a few highly qualified instructors who have weighed in, but they still have ZERO information to base their advice on.  If you really want to improve, get some good instruction.

I agree for the most part. My "go to" advice is get lessons - an instructor can certainly help more than most of us here on the forums. But when somebody is asking for "tips" (or whatever) here on the forum, he/she is probably a somewhat casual player just looking for a few helpful(?) hints without going for actual lessons. Kinda like reading a book.

And you never know what might help. Granted it was in person, but a (new) buddy of mine and I were at the driving range last year in SE Asia. He was about a 21 handicap, somewhat new at the game but his swing was actually pretty good, very much on plane - he just couldn't make anything resembling good contact.

I helped him with just a couple of things. He was a wee bit flippy at the bottom. I moved his hands a bit forward at address (for chipping as well) and explained how he should do his best to keep his head at the same horizontal level.

His chipping (especially) got much better and he was hitting the ball quite a bit better. He dropped 5 shots off his 'cap in about a month. Now granted it's much easier to improve from a 20 than say, a 5 but still,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Having said that, I almost never give unsolicited advice to anybody unless I know them quite well,,,,,,,,, :nono: :)
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#23 NikeGolferTX

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Posted 09 April 2018 - 10:07 AM

From my experience:

1.) Getting swing educated.
2.) Video Analysis at the range (troubleshooting).
3.) 1 hour warmup before playing.
4.) Swing smooth, not fast/hard.
5.) Ownership. (Own your swing/style and have a LOT of confidence).

Edited by NikeGolferTX, 09 April 2018 - 10:09 AM.


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#24 jslane57

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Posted 09 April 2018 - 10:14 AM

View PostNikeGolferTX, on 09 April 2018 - 10:07 AM, said:

From my experience:

1.) Getting swing educated.
2.) Video Analysis at the range (troubleshooting).
3.) 1 hour warmup before playing.
4.) Swing smooth, not fast/hard.
5.) Ownership. (Own your swing/style and have a LOT of confidence).
I like this. It's all about controlling the ball, knowing how to control the ball, and then playing smart enough so you don't have to do stupid things. I will add one caveat for this list: if you have to warm up for one hour, you're not truly owning your game...
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#25 BB28403

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Posted 09 April 2018 - 10:29 AM

Great Question Stephen, I love this topic.


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#26 mikpga

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Posted 09 April 2018 - 10:30 AM

What are your goals with playing the game?

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#27 Nard_S

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Posted 09 April 2018 - 10:43 AM

Dedicate  some effort to nailing down rhythm, tempo and balance. That does not mean swing smooth and slow either, means developing a constant  swing to carry throughout round and from wedge to driver.
I've lost more rounds to this over any other swing fault. You can dance with what you brought but you still have to hit the down beat.

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#28 CaddiesFault

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Posted 09 April 2018 - 10:48 AM

View PostSteven19114, on 08 April 2018 - 10:42 AM, said:

So what is the best advice or technique that really helped your game improve? If you can look back at when you started, what would you have said to yourself.

Mostly talking full swing etc, I know short game will cut a ton of shots of your score but when you are s*** like me you tend to struggle to get to the greens to start with.

cheers

The simple answer is practice. Nothing beats improving your fine motor skills, and hitting a variety of shots. Play by yourself once and awhile so you can hit some extra shots.

If there was anything i could go back and tell myself, it would be:
1. Get a check up with a pro every once and awhile to point you in the right direction. It will speed up the process.
2. Enjoy that process. frustration curbs improvement. Golf is a game after all.

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#29 AlecEmersonGolf

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Posted 09 April 2018 - 12:00 PM

Swing wise i don't really know how what to tell you, through practice you eventually learn how to hit the ball where you want to. I'll go through my "eureka" moments

-Hit very few "full" shots, especially with short irons. Now I really only hit a full shot if its a tucked front pin that i need to hit high,

-Hit to the center of the green a lot.

-hitting it in the rough is often a good spot, depending on the hole
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#30 davep043

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Posted 09 April 2018 - 12:18 PM

View PostAlecEmersonGolf, on 09 April 2018 - 12:00 PM, said:

-hitting it in the rough is often a good spot, depending on the hole
The rough on the safe side is WAY better than the hazard or OB on the other side.


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