How to Lower Your Handicap: 13 Tips
Sharpen Your Short Game
The majority of golf strokes happen within 100 yards of the hole. If you do not take time to sharpen your short game, you are giving away strokes to your competition. This is especially true because the short game relies so much on touch and feel.
You gain more feel by experimenting with different shots and approaches in the short game practice area. In particular, take time to fix up your flatstick. Few things will help lower your handicap more than working on your putting.
Hit the Range
Not going to the range is like a professional football team waiting until game day to work on drills and technique. The work you put in at the range will be directly reflected in your scores on the course.
Try this: hit shots on the range as if you were playing a real round. Select the clubs you typically use on each hole — your visualization will improve.
Tune Up Your Equipment
If you are playing with a golf set that has grips as smooth as the ice at the local hockey rink, it’s time to tune up your equipment. Clean out the grooves on your clubs, spend a few dollars for new grips and replace any damaged shafts.
After evaluating your current set, it might make even more sense to get fitted for new clubs. The right golf set with the correct shafts that fit your swing and body shape will make a giant difference in your scores. You may be surprised to see how your equipment can help lower your handicap.
Studies show that the vast majority of players lower their score by more than 1.5 strokes, and gain more than 20 yards from the tee box, after getting properly fitted for the right clubs with a quality golf shop or golf professional.
It wasn’t that long ago that getting fit for clubs involved putting impact tape on different irons and using a strike board to determine where each club impacts the ground. Modern technology like Trackman have made the fitting process more exact and effective. Trackman monitors your ball flight with radar, providing specific details that helps the fitter make precise recommendations on the right grip, clubhead and shaft for your swing.
Variety of Courses
While you may have your home course down pat — familiar with every nook and cranny, and able to map out every undulation on the greens — it will benefit you to broaden your course selection to include a number of different tracks.
Professionals benefit by playing around the country, experiencing every possible playing condition. You can emulate their experience by seeking out new golf courses with different vegetation, elevation changes and grass varieties. For example, Kikuyu grass is common in Western states. It is “sticky,” and learning to play it only comes from experience.
Learn to Play with Grit
Golf is an emotional game, and it’s easy to lose focus if you find yourself getting behind in the middle of a round. Concentrate on playing with grit and determination. You can build your ability to be effective under adverse conditions by playing in inclement weather.
Although spring has arrived, it often brings with it sporadic rain, cold weather and wet grounds. Don’t be afraid to get out on the course and play in these less than ideal circumstances. You will build your knowledge of how the ball responds in different ground conditions, at the same time strengthening your ability to remain patient and focused.
Stretch it Out
Sitting at a desk in an office five days a week, springing out of bed on Saturday morning, running to the golf course, and doing two quick stretches on the tee before hitting your first shot is not a good program.
To play your very best, spend time at home before the round, stretching your arms, legs and core with a series of targeted stretches. Do not “bounce” the stretch — work on steady, patient application that lasts up to 20 seconds or more.
Power Up Your Fitness
Lack of yardage is a serious weakness for every golfer’s game.
From 150-200 yards from the green, an average golfer will hit the green only 26 percent of the time. That number increases to 50 percent for shots in the 100-150 yard range. Clearly, hitting it further off the tee will provide better chances for most golfers to hit it closer to the pin.
You don’t have to bulk up to increase your strength. Rather, concentrate on your core.
The core is made up of the muscles that run from the pelvic floor to the ribs and span from the spine to the front of the body. Muscles in this area include the external and internal obliques, transverse abdominus, spinal erectorae and diaphragm. Being in good shape is one more way to help lower your handicap.
Golf is a great game due to the friendships you can develop and the camaraderie that naturally takes place on the course. However, it can distract you from concentrating on improving the weaknesses in your game, especially when well-meaning friends give you conflicting advice that confuses you more.
Get out on the course by yourself when there are few other golfers around, perhaps later in the day near dusk. Hit two or three balls off each tee and from the fairway into each green. Focus on sharpening your distance accuracy and shotmaking ability from different parts of the course, ideally the same course you plan to play that weekend, and you will lower your handicap.
Become a Numbers Maven
Some people say that the final score is all that counts. But you will improve faster and shave strokes off your game quicker if you know your numbers. That means you should keep track of statistics such as the number of fairways you hit, the number of greens you land on in regulation, the number of putts you take on each green and where you miss shots on the fairway.
Again, technology comes to the rescue. There are a plethora of golf apps and trackers that you can use to plug in the information during your round. Over time, you will be surprised at how clear your strengths and weaknesses become. With that information, you can work on specific drills to shore up your weaknesses and build on strengths and in turn lower your handicap
Get A Handicap
If you’ve ever set up a friendly betting game with the other people in your foursome on the first tee, you know from experience how vague handicaps are. “Usually I play to an 18” or “I hit in the 90s” are not clear indications of your current ability. Make it a point to get an official handicap.
At most courses, you can enter your score in the handicap system, and it will track your handicap for you across every course you play. Even better, you can give a specific answer when asked about your golf handicap, and gain an equitable advantage when playing against golfers with much more skill than you.
The benefit of golf’s handicap system is that no matter how well you play, you can compete with the best players in the game on a level playing field. You can only gain these benefits if you invest in taking the steps necessary to gain an official handicap.
Sign up for a Series of Lessons
You may not have the time for a full-time golf coach, but you can benefit greatly by investing in a series of golf lessons with a qualified professional.
Although some golfers stop in for a one-lesson tune-up, often to address a specific problem, a series of lessons gives your professional a chance to see your golf swing several times and provide the depth of coaching necessary to help lower your handicap.
Believe it or not, for most people golf is supposed to be relaxation. That may not be apparent as you look at the serious faces on the course during your next round. A positive, light approach to your game will relax your mind and body and allow your training to take effect.
Tight golf muscles are ineffective muscles, and being mindful of staying relaxed and loose will make a huge contribution to lower you score. Spring golf is a true joy, as the shivering days of winter fade and the crack of drivers against golf balls fill the air.
Before the heart of the summer golf season hits, use these tips to hone your skills, and by the end of the year you’ll will lower your handicap more than you thought possible. Speaking of fresh starts, if you’ve ever considered a career in golf, contact us today. We’ll show you the wide variety of career paths waiting for you in the golf industry.