How to Lower Your Handicap: 13 Tips

Spring is almost here, and for golfers in colder climates, that means golf is almost back. But whether or not you live in the colder parts of the country, the new season also means a fresh start — another opportunity to bring down your scores. Here are valuable tips that can help you lower your handicap by five strokes or more by the end of this golf season.


1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. Get Fitted

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.

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. 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.

8. 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.

9. Solo Flight

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.

10. 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

11. 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.

12. 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.

13. Lighten Up

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, Want more tips or information? If you want to take your game to the next level, contact our team at Keiser University’s College of Golf & Sport Management today. With our dedication and experience, together, we can elevate your game to new heights. Give us a call today at 888-355-4465.”


  1. Oh yes the short game. I suggested to my son who is middle-aged, that he always get to the course early, not to work the driver but to work his putter. Get a feel for the greens, sink some puts and calm your nerves. He went from a 21 to an 18 handicap overnight.

  2. If you control your golf club you will also control your golf ball. Using a 3-wood off the tee on par 4’s and 5’s will
    lower your golf scores. Having more hybrids helps too. Staying out of sand, water, woods, rough, and staying on
    the fairway results in lowering your golf handicap. Spending two thirds of your practice time putting, chipping,
    pitching, and flop shots greatly improves your golf scores. Making far less mistakes (like 3-putting and hitting
    the wrong club for a golf shot) makes golf more fun and less frustrating. Golf is always more fun when you play
    well consistently. I break 80 most all the time by following my own advice. Never underestimate yourself. Play
    golf with confidence and common sense. Stay positive and always self-improving. All the best. CWG

  3. As soon as I can figure out how to play with “grit and determination” and yet still “lighten up”, I may finally conquer this game.

  4. Grit was described by willingness to play in adverse conditions. The conditions of the course can only affect your attitude if you let it.

  5. This is my first year
    I play in a women’s league once a week
    I don’t seem to move my handicap from 47 and it bothers me and Year I sometimes have some incredible shots
    My major problem is letting go of the chatter and just concentrate
    There are so many rules so many ways
    It’s totally a new world out there
    I love being out there but need to improve soon I am 76 and still have big dreams of getting it.

  6. Angela, being out on the golf course as you are is a great way to start lowering your handicap. Well done! I think you’d do really well practicing chipping and putting. Once you get better with this part of your golf game, you can concentrate on other aspects, but getting better at chipping and putting will help you lower your handicap. And the best way to start getting better is to take a few short game lessons from a teaching pro, if you can afford it, and then just practice what they are teaching you. They are the experts at helping people improve at golf. Also, being good around the green helps tone down the chatter because everyone will be watching you make good shots at the pin. 🙂 Good luck; play well.

  7. Easiest ways I went from a 22 to a 6.

    1. Keep 125 yards and in to 3 shots or less
    2. Have a ‘go to’ shot off the tee when your driver is not cooperating.
    3. Invest in lessons instead of the newest technology!

  8. Really really good list of tips: I’m currently playing off 33 handicap and would like to get to 28 and then down to 18. My challenge is consistency : I need to reduce the number of wasted shots… these tips seem v sensible to me.


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