There is only one sure fire way to reduce your handicap in golf. By handing in cards with a score that is less than your present handicap.
Many people find it difficult to reduce their handicap no matter how hard they practice. This may be due to their physical or mental ability. On the other hand, some people find it easy to play due to natural ability. Some people may say it’s genetics, but practice also plays a key role in the game.
When I was 21, I decided to train to become a golf professional. I worked as a morning cleaner so that I could spend the rest of the day playing golf. As a member of my local golf club the professional saw my enthusiasm and let me practice on the range for free. This was great as I spent many hours hitting hundreds of balls until it started to get dark. On occasions I would go out on the course and shoot some great scores, then afterwards go to the putting green and putt until the floodlights came on.
At the beginning of my first year at the club I started on a handicap of 28. By the end of the year it had come down to 12. The following year was even better as it reduced to 8, which was very respectable. I then moved to Southampton and reduced it still further to 5.6. Unfortunately I then injured my back and took a 6 year break to go to University. Now I’m back and I want to get to single figures again.
This is how I did it first time.
This is the key element in getting consistency. It enables me to see exactly what a club will do and allow me to experiment with fades and draws. I practice as much as I can, but make sure I don’t overdo it 2 days before a competition day.
This element is more important than my long game as it enables me to get the ball close to the hole if I miss the green. There are three types of shot that I practice most.
Chip and run allows me to roll the ball along a flat green up to the hole.
Flop shot is great if there is a bunker in the way and I need to stop the ball quickly.
And the pitch shot gives me a good chance to get the ball near the hole from 50yds of less. This is a great shot as it stops quickly for me.
This is of highest priority in golf as the most shots can be lost in this area. My practice regime is to putt 4 balls from hole to hole. The holes are usually set up 10ft apart so this develops long range accuracy. I prefer to get 20 putts in before moving to short range putting. This may take some time but I will have hit about 100 putts before I get there. I always finish with the ball in the hole because it reinforces the mental image of what I am trying to do. I try to hit the ball so that it is the perfect length and just falls into the hole, so that if it is slightly off line it will fall in the side of the hole and not roll by.
Concentration. I try to control my emotions as I used to get really angry in the past. If I miss a shot now, I say “oh well” and make sure I hit the next one better. Sounds simple, but really, it’s only a game after all.
And finally, listen to professionals as they have been through it before. I had a bad tendency of changing my swing because I thought it would be better and increase the distance I could hit. I realized too late that I should keep my swing the same. Because, if it works, don’t change it.
I have achieved a single figure handicap through determination and practising the shots that I need, to make it round any course in less than 80 shots. I am always determined to improve my game every time I go out and play. Don’t get flustered if the hole is going badly, just relax and enjoy it.