How to get over the golf hump?
June 28, 2012 11:37 AM   Subscribe

You're a single digit handicap. You were more or less a hacker for years and years and years (hitting in the 90s+). How did you get better? I'm sure it means practice-- but how did you approach practice? How did you approach the game?

I've played golf for nearly 20 of my 30 years, played at least thousand rounds, but I have really not gotten much better, and have played around a 20 handicap the entire time. I'm taking lessons now, and my swing feels more 'easy', but I'm frustrated with lack of consistency.
posted by sandmanwv to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Lessons and perfect practice. Practice does not make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect. Practice good habits over and over. Then focus on more specific parts of your game. Work on your drives, then move to your short game, your putting, etc. Once you start improving your shot making, you need to work on your mental game and on your decision making. When do I go for the green, when do I lay up, etc. I took strokes off my game when I learned that what I could hit was not necessarily what I should hit. (See Tin Cup and going for the green.) Also, playing rounds with good players helps. I don't know why. Finally, to be honest, I shed a few strokes on the back nine when I stopped having those beers on the course.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 11:51 AM on June 28, 2012

Keep track not only of your score but what every shot is. Are you consistently having to hit a second shot from trouble? Is your second shot off the green? Do your chips lead to more chips? Can you consistently get up and down from the sand? Are you 3 putting more than 1 putting? And if so is it because you're not making a lot of putts or because you always have a 50 footer for a first putt?
Use that to get an idea of your weak points and work on those. This is especially helpful if you play the same course a lot. A few guys I know actually have little print outs of the course and they'll put dots on the hole for each shot.
posted by bowmaniac at 12:51 PM on June 28, 2012

(I'm not a single-digit handicap yet but I've made good improvement over the last couple of years)
You had bad swing mechanics and you've compensated for them as best you can but now you've reached the limits of that compensation. Your lessons should be breaking you of the bad habits but it'll take a while to learn to let go of your old compensation habits.
Also, half the strokes in any golfer's game will be putts. It makes sense that half your overall improvement should come from there, too. Practice your putt stroke as much as your swing and learn to read green speed and behavior on different types of grass and different wet/dry conditions. Keep track of putts on your scorecard and work to minimize having to write anything over two.
posted by rocket88 at 3:37 PM on June 28, 2012

I don't golf but I've been exposed to my father's obsession with this game since I was a little kid--25 years or so. He's actually quite good, definitely the best golfer among his set, and I think he hits in the low 80s these days. (He's 66). To my mother's extreme annoyance, he hits "soft" balls that emulate the weight and feel of real balls against the basement wall for at least an hour, usually two, on days with bad weather. He also hits the driving and putt/chip ranges a few times a week all spring/summer/fall long. He focuses on one thing at a time, not two. One month might be accuracy, another power/distance, and he gets specific advice from his instructors that help him with his current goals. He also watches the golf channel borderline obsessively to study swings. One thing he's talked quite a bit about is muscle memory and reinforcement--practicing a bad swing for hours on end is quite useless and destructive, so he makes use of physical aids to help him adjust bad habits. For instance, he tends to swing to the inside, so he uses a traffic cone that is placed to fall over if he's inside. He also has this weird extra long headless club that he plants in the grass that helps him do.. something. His instructor made it for him. He also tries to end practice with a good swing if he can make one.

He takes a few lessons, gets some tips, then practices using mirrors and video cameras to analyze his swing. He also uses this software called V1 Golf (on his iPad, but it is also available for iPhone & PC) to help him figure out where he's going wrong. He was honestly shocked to see how bad his swing economy was (from a physics perspective) when he first started using this software.
posted by xyzzy at 11:09 PM on June 29, 2012

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