Entries Tagged as 'Lower your score'

Turning it around – 1.

From July to October my handicap moved from 5.5 to 8.2

At the start of the year my aim was to reduce my handicap from 5 to 2.  A couple of lessons to establish a solid foundation, and regular practice, seemed to have little positive impact on my scores.

Over the last eleven months I have hit more golf balls, and played more regularly, than at any other time over the last 40 years – but there have only been glimmers of hope. My scores were consistently between 8 and 13 over. Under the new handicapping system the low scores from late last year dropped out of calculation, and my handicap suffered.
The problems were many.
  • Erratic driving. Fairways in regulation were regularly less that 30%. As a result Greens in Regulation rarely reached 50%.
  • Inconsistent putting. 31-34 putts were the norm, with at least one three-putt most  rounds.
  • Between tee and green my iron play was not up to the task of scrambling pars or bogeys from behind trees or under bushes.
In the last three months things have turned around…..

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Achieving Goals

After four and a half months my 2010 golfing goal is still unrealised. My handicap is 4.9,  a long way from the 2.4 that will mark achievement.

What have I been doing to move toward the goal?

Lessons:

Two of a three lesson series have been completed, with a third not too far away. My set up has changed signficantly.  I have changed from a left side focus to a right side focus, trying to hit through the ball with my right hand rather than my lef t arm pulling the swing. Slowly my finish is becoming more upright and square to the target.

Results thus far: the straight hits are straighter and the default error seems to be a fade

Practice:

During the summer a weekly after work visit to the course was easy. Daylight saving is fantastic.  With sunrise after 7.00 a.m. and sunset at about 5.30 p.m. that is now much harder. Work pressures don’t help either. Where possible I will spend a little time hitting balls during the week, and ‘in house’ chipping and putting is the norm. 

Results thus far:Putting with more confidence and constency, but this is not being seen on the score card.

Thinking

Tips are not on my agenda, but the mental game has been a focus of my reading.  A sound pre-shot routine before every stroke as well as thinking positively about every shot are a couple of foundational aspects that need to be developed further.  Everything I have read about the mental game encourages me to take the final score out of my thinking, and to concentrate on each shot without mentally keeping score. For someone who is striving to reduce his handicap, and can talk through a round a week after, that is difficult.  I’m working on it.

Results thus far:  Pre-shot routine is Ok, but not totally consistent. Being totally confident about swing and shot is difficult after letting a couple of drives slide right of the fairway.

Course Management

For years I have used a course book, and know where the major markers are on the courses I play regularly. Course management takes this a step further. Planning the way you play the course – including which clubs to use for particular tee shots – is another step that needs to be taken. The aim is to step up to the ball with confidence, using the club you know will give the best chance of success, and put the ball in the best area for the next shot.  This means using a 3 wood or hybrid off a couple of tees, and a change in my approach to the game.

Results thus far: This is the latest step, and after one week I can see the sense in it, but am yet to hold back at times when it might be the wisest course.

Summary

This is my approach to golf improvement, with the aim of getting my handicap down. As yet there has been no major step forward in my score.

The best advice has come from W. Timothy Gallwey “The Inner Game of Golf”.  He suggests that the PEL triangle is a key. If the score is all that counts golf will be regularly frustrating. Even the best rounds can be better. Perfection is a round of 18 shots! So we need to think about Performance, Enjoyment, and Learning. If performance is not up to our hopes the game can still be enjoyed, and learning can still take place. 

I am enjoying my golf, and learning.

Bad bounces and shanks…

Week by week measuring of progress is humbling, but enlightening.

Progress might be sensed on the practice range but needs to be realised on the course. The swing might feel more solid, the errors more ‘consistent’ (i.e. the default error is a fade, not a fade or pull), but the true test comes when the scores count.  On Saturday they counted. The strokes came out too high and the stableford points way too low.

Looking back there are three glaring errors, a.k.a. shanks, which are not normally part of my game. The effect on my score was a needless three shots. What was most surprising was that two of them were ‘chip-outs’ from trouble! That should be an easy fix. The other shot I will discount as an aberration.

The other aspect of my game that was disappointing was my driving – three shots ended up way right (two in trouble). After completing nine holes with my worst drive two metres from the short cut (sum total about 10 metres off the fairway from seven drives but only one actually on the fairway) I proceed to carve three of my next four drives towards trees on the right. But for a lucky bounce the pain would have been greater.

Add in what were effectively two three putts (one from just of the putting surface) and the score wasn’t looking great.

During the round there were two bits of bad luck. Approaching a bunker I was reflecting on the friendly design of the course bunkers and expecting to find my ball on a flat lie at the bottom of the bunker. Nope! I was plugged at the back of the bunker with a downhill lie in heavy and damp sand. I got it out, just. From there another shot was wasted as I took three to get down from the fringe. Two holes later and my 30 metre pitch landed close to the distance I wanted, but was half a metre left of the target area. Instead of bouncing softly off the grass it leapt into the air off a sprinkler head and bounded merrily across the green into a little swale.  The birdie opportunity quickly became a failed attempt to save par.

With a little bad  luck and too many bad shots the end result was 30 points. Not the 38 I would like, but not the 28 it could have been. With three wipes and two one pointers on the easy par 5’s I walked away frustrated with parts my round, yet knowing that the good round could be the next one.

The Statistics:

FIR: 22%  GIR: 55% PPG: in reg 1.9  Putts: 34  Stableford points: 30 Handicap: 4.9 (unchanged).

The Bad News:

Under the new handicapping system one of my best scores drops off in three competition rounds. A good round is needed soon.

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Signs of hope

It worked on the golf course, but not on the scoreboard!

Extra efforts over recent months to raise my game to the next level are bearing fruit.  A slight correction yesterday (shortening my backswing) made a huge difference on the course. It certainly did improve my score.

Statistically: FIR  64%  GIR 50%  Putting 1.67 = 30 putts.  Score = 75  (3 over)

This is my best round on this course by three shots. As always, it could have been much better. Three shots were dropped in the last three holes. A 115 downwind approach was pushed right at 16, and compounded by an overhit bunker shot, an ordinary chip and a missed 5 footer meant a double bogey, and a short chip on 18 added to my pain.

Highlights: Four birdies (including three of the four par 5’s).  Most satisfying was the driving, with only two holes where I needed to shape my second shot to get to the green. Both of those however resulted in bogeys.

Lowlights: Three putts on the par 3 4th, and a bogey on the short 5th put a halt on a promising start.

Summary: I am on my way to better golf and a lower handicap is just around the corner.

Work areas this week: Bunker play – 3 greenside bunkers but no up and downs

BTW: 38 points on my card did not translate to 38 points in Golflink, but that story is for another day!

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Putting – the eyes have it!

There is a lot of free information on how to improve your game on the internet. Sometimes its a reminder of stuff you already know, other times you glean something new.

Check out this link about putting, eyesight, images and memory. http://www.docsgolftips.com/v2/pirateputting.php

Something to think about in terms of pre-shot routines.

Three by three, and another 0.1

Back at Royal Hobart for the Monthly medal this weekend. Conditions were cool and the sky was overcast. There was little breeze. In other words, it was a perfect day for golf.

In preparation I was at the course at least 30 minutes before tee off.  About 30 shots on the practice fairway, a few chips and a few putts and I was ready to go.  During the week I had managed to get out on the course once, and spent time most days indoors on putting and chipping technique.

At the end of the day I signed for a 78, net 73. CCR  was 71 (Par 72), and the handicap went out to and exact 5.0.

Statistically:  FIR  64%   GIR 50% Putts 32 = PPH 1.77

Practically 4 errant drives meant playing for position rather than going for the green, and three three-putt greens were costly. Of five realistic birdie attempts (putts of 3 metres or less) on one was converted. A little improvement in any of these areas and lower scores should result.

The plan this week:  practice twice working to embed changes to my set up and swing. More time needs to be spent on the driver, and on the putting green.

One step forward?

A visit to a different course was not a good thing for my handicap, but was a good way to spend the morning.  “Woodrising” a.k.a. Devonport Golf Club was my home course over 20 years ago, and it was good to return to the course on the weekend. While the course has not changed a great deal I was impressed with the quality of the greens. Fast and true,  they were well prepared for my visit and a delight to play on. The visitors from clubs around Tassie who were visiting for the Clarment Shield were fortunate that their competition coincided with my visit!

So how was the round?   12 over the card doesn’t sound too great, especially when it is seven over the handicap you are on and 10 over the one you are working for, and adds .1 to the actual handicap.

FIR: 14%         GIR: 39%       Putts:35 or 1.944 per green

These are not impressive, and if we add in some poor chips and bad bunker play the overall result was bad news.

Yet I came away happy that progress is being made. Only three drives were in difficult positions, the rest were within a few metres of the fairway. Most were straight and close to the linbe I chose.  My game fell away at the next hurdle, approaches to the green.

On reflection I concentrated hard on my set up and swing off the tee, but had been hitting my iron so straight and well that there was little thought about swing and more about result. On most holes I was within range of the green with my second shot, yet only hit 39% of the greens. 7 of my 18 shots to the green went right.  There is one area to work on. Around the greens is another. Perhaps it was the pace of the greens after two weeks on recently scarified putting surfaces but on Saturday my short game was not up top the mark.

Hope remains. The driving has shown great steps forward, the next step is to get the rest of the game up to the mark.

Practice makes perfect?

The old adage is not quite correct. It should read “Perfect practice makes perfect”.

Swing changes don’t get established in one day, it takes much more than that.  Perfect practice is needed. Just two days (= two practice sessions) after the lesson I played a competitive round of golf.

Result: 30 stableford points. Verdict: satisfied.

Despite being six shots over my handicap, golf on Saturday was OK.

The negatives:

  • One three putt – forgot about the downhill slope
  • Two  wipe-outs – one drive pulled way left followed by a thoughtless provisional, the other a ball (slight fade) we lost sight of in the air and could not find in the rough
  • Two approaches went long. Each shot travelled at least  ten metres further than anticipated. Is that just better ball striking or is it bad judgment?

The positives:

  • 64% driving accurracy including 5 of the last 6 driving holes
  • Approaches between 50 and 100 metres (six shots) were all on line and covered the pin – just got to work on distance
  • Pin high for 2 on the reachable par 5’s
  • Shot shape good. The slight sliding fade that had developed was not in evidence.

All in all a satisfactory golfing day, if not a good scoring day.

What next?  Practice fairway twice this week, and nine holes Friday night.  No golf for me Saturday so the real test will have to wait for a fortnight.

A place for the bunker rake

The rake goes here.

A check up….

There is a big difference between what you think you are doing and what you really are doing! Thursday lunchtime was a reality check.

To achieve my golfing goal this year I figured a lesson was needed. My club pro is AAA rated, and has a good reputation with the members. So off I went.  After the introductions it was down to business. I shared my general stats and error patterns before hitting a few balls. It was the normal “OK, let’s have a look at your swing” exercise.

Half an hour later I have a changed set up, a different  follow through line, and some new swing thoughts and images to apply. Interestingly enough a couple of the points he made were exactly the same made by Rohan Dummet three years ago. When he identified that flaw in my set up it was another one of those ‘aha’ moments.  My concentration had been so focussed on alignment that I had forgotten about setting up so that my weight can be behind the ball at impact.

The challenge now is embed the new setup and swing path, and put it into action.

The lesson was Thursday, I hit 50 balls on the range Friday afternoon and then played a 2 ball nine holes before dark. Along the way the new set up and swing image were my priority, so the score was irrelevant (sort of).

Until the ninth I would hit one straight drive and one off line. On 8 and 9 all drives went close to the lines intended. Long irons were not fantastic, but the short shots (less than 100 meters) went straighter.

State of Play: More work to be done but positive signs.

Next action: Practice adjusted swing tomorrow morning, then play in the competition.  An update will hit the net tomorrow evening.

Getting it all together

After one good round it is easy to expect that the next ones will be good as well. That is not always the case.
So many different things have to come together for the amateur golfer to score well and consistently.
Driving, approaches, chipping and putting all have to be right for the score to be low, and a little bit of luck doesn’t hurt either.

Checking some statistics may not always reveal the difference, but some further reflection may shed light on the why one round is good and another ordinary. Two recent rounds reflect the difference.

Fairways in regulation were around the same – less than 30%.  Some of the drives that  missed the fairway were in the short rough, but during one round there were three occasions when a chip out was needed. In the other it was always possible to advance the ball much closer to the green.

Greens in regulation were about the same. As expected the number of putts is a good indicator of a score, and 26 putts was very good number.  Seven fewer putts usually means a much better score, and it did on this occasion.  It did not take much to work out why.  Even when a fairway was missed it was possible to get the ball close to the green. A chip and one putt meant an easy par, and one chip in also made a difference.

Raw statistics  do not always explain the difference between a good round and an ordinary one. There are times when it is necessary to look behind the numbers.