June 12, 2022
Today, I am a 16 handicap, yes, 16! Thats a bit embarrassing to share, I feel like I play way better than a 16 handicap. I’d love to lower my handicap, who wouldn’t? I can hit my driver 300+ yards (not always on target though…). Actually, I recently won the 2022 Hacemos Golf Classic Longest Drive, it’s a local charity tournament. But after I blast a drive that is 20 yards from the green on a par 4, I’m not always walking away with a par, shocker, I know! Then, frustrated, I start the next hole by ripping a slice or a hook and have to scramble out of the trees all the way to the green.
I’ll recover after having to go up and over a giant oak tree, dodging a green-side bunker, and get my ball to sit on the green…walking away with a par. Ok, maybe a bogey. Then I’ll rattle off a few pars and maybe a birdie here or there. For some reason, I cant seem to piece together a full compliment of decent shots on a hole. I might hit a great drive, but then flub a chip shot. Or I’ll hit a decent chip shot and two or three-putt. What can I say – I’m a 16 handicap.
I end up playing 9 holes at least two days per week, sometimes 3 or 4 times a week. I am a member at our local country club and play in a men’s league on Tuesdays. Then on Fridays, I play couples league with my wife. We actually do pretty well and are a 0 handicap. Yes, she is pretty good herself. But the two of us separate, meh. We both have our issues.
Can I be a 4 handicap? Four?! Why 4? I don’t know, it sounds good?
So why do I think I can get down to 4?
Not only do I think I can get down to 4, I think I can get down to 4 within a handful of months. I think there are a couple of things I can do immediately, that really have very little to do with golf, but that will cut into that score pretty quickly. Some practice, something I do very little of today, will go a long way as well.
I started golfing when I was a kid. Not sure what age, but I really do not remember a time I didn’t have clubs. My grandfather was a golf smith and I spent hours every week just watching him fix clubs. Needless to say, he always made sure I had clubs. It was pretty rare we would actually go play on a course, we didn’t have much money so it was a rare treat. But I did spend a ton of time in the yard hitting balls. My brother and I made a couple of holes and that was what we typically played.
We had a pretty big field, from one corner to the other it was about 100 yards. That happens to be the exact same distance that I am super comfortable with out on the course today. I also spent quite a bit of time in my grandparents kitchen putting – not sure how much that’s actually helped though.
So again, why do I think I can get down to a very respectable 4 handicap? Well, I hit some pretty damn good shots out on the course, I just hit too many errant shots and make really bad decisions and routinely compound my mistakes. Its also extremely rare that I will actually go out and practice. But when I do spend a half hour or so working on a part of my game, I see huge improvement. I also find it difficult to peel away once I start practicing something. If I say I am going to go chip for 30 minutes before dark, two hours later I am still chipping under the moonlight. I think if I eliminate the poor decisions and put the work in to practice my game, I’ll see some pretty significant improvement quickly.
Here is my plan.
- Start stretching and exercising regularly.
- Reevaluate my decisions on the course.
- Install a simulator in the basement to practice and evaluate every part of my game possible. Ok, this one really isn’t necessary, but I have the space and would love to talk the wife into it.
- Methodically practice all aspects of my game and hold myself accountable through this blog.
I know, it’s kind of high level, but I think you get the gist of it. I’ll set some goals around practice and club striking consistency. You’ve probably noticed that the first 2 items really aren’t related to actually hitting a ball. It’s simply fitness and mindset. I believe these alone would drop my handicap a few strokes.
Hell, thinking back to just a couple days ago – I end up with a poor drive into the tree line on a par 4. Probably about 150 yards out. I have a nice easy window to chip out into the fairway THAT WOULD HAVE PUT ME AT ABOUT 100 YARDS, my favorite place to be! You think I take that? No way, I have a window to the green. I have to miss about 8 trees along the way and keep it low enough to avoid the limbs. Executed perfectly! Ha, yeah right. Now I’m hitting my 3rd shot out of the trees again. Think I learned my lesson, hell no, I can still recover because I have another window. Simply eliminating those mental errors should save me about 4 strokes almost instantly.
Here is another story with a series of bonehead decisions.
Par 5 with a corn field on the left. Hook it off the tee but am still in bounds, barely. I was in an area that was a bit open and had not reached the tree line on the left yet. I also have no line to hit a long shot unless I get it up high enough to go over the first couple of trees (they were not very tall). If I go to the right of those trees, I’ll quickly find myself across the fairway and into the tree line on the right side.
Now, I could have hit it into the fairway with a much shorter shot, leaving myself about 230 yards for my 3rd shot, which is reachable with my 3-wood. Nah, I’m going to smash one that gets over those trees and leaves me with an easy chip shot for my 3rd…you see where this is going.
I nail the first tree slightly left of center. My ball takes a huge bounce back toward me and to the left, going out of bounds. I have to drop just outside of where it crossed, leaving me with a pretty similar shot to the one I just had. Only now I am a bit closer to that tree, but on a slight uphill lie (figured it’d help me get the ball over the tree). What happens? You already know, I nailed the same tree again! This time my ball flies about 50 yards into the corn field. Such an idiot. Twice OB on one hole. I finish with a solid 10, smh.
On to the next hole, carrying the frustration with me, I have a 330 yard par 4. I smash my ball even with the pin off to the left of the green, its a great drive, but I still come away with a bogey. Somewhere in the back and forth across the green I settled down and ended up finishing my round with 5 pars. So again, brutal mistakes leading to frustration and unnecessary strokes.
Alright, if you’ve read this far, I am sure you can sympathize and if you have been playing golf for a while you have probably experienced some similar situations. Bottom line, lets see if I can actually improved my game and I’ll be sharing what works and does not work.