High handicap golf nut

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High handicap golf nut

Post by Offshore » Sun Aug 04, 2013 3:01 pm

How many games can you think of where the player may truely stink, but absolutely loves doing it and can't get enought of it! For me, that's golf.

I am taking lessons and practicing at least a 3 times/week. I play about once/week. Through lessons (PGA professional) I feel like I have a proper understanding of a good golf swing. However, at 53 years old I am not as flexible as I would like, but hope this will not prevent marked improvement.

I would feel (much) more motivated if I can find someone who can tell me they are a 15 handicap or better, and improved significantly at an age over 50. Anyone? Any words of wisdom on how you learned the game? Thank you!

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Re: High handicap golf nut

Post by Toons » Sun Aug 04, 2013 3:39 pm

Practice,practice,practice. I have worn out shag bags over the years picking up balls that I have hit in a nearby open field. As Gary Player once said, "The more I practice the luckier I get". :happy
"One does not accumulate but eliminate. It is not daily increase but daily decrease. The height of cultivation always runs to simplicity" –Bruce Lee

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Re: High handicap golf nut

Post by Kenkat » Sun Aug 04, 2013 3:44 pm

Well I can't tell you that exactly but I can tell you that if you keep practicing and playing at your current pace, you will improve markedly over the next couple of years. Golf is a game that can be played well into middle and even old age - my father in law still plays a little even at age 85+. Focus on playing within your flexibility and capabilities. That means forget the 300 yard drives and trying to hit an 8 iron 180 yards like Phil or Tiger does. Play smart, play the right club for the shot and your abilities and you should have lots of good times and shots.

Golf is a tough sport to get started with as you probably are going struggle for awhile. But stick with it and you can definitely improve.

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Re: High handicap golf nut

Post by J295 » Sun Aug 04, 2013 6:24 pm

I have golfed for about 45 years so I'm not a good test case. However, I've seen a lot of golfers and a good friend of mine took up the game 6 years ago at age 50. He has a very solid game and frequently breaks 80 at one of the most challenging courses in our state (Pete Dye design). So, it can be done. Here was his formula for improvement.

1. He started with a solid base due to his lifetime of athletic participation and corresponding strong hand/eye coordination.
2. He is committed, and makes the time to play and practice daily.
3. He is a professor, and understands the value of good instruction, including good golf instruction. Remember practice makes permanent not perfect (attribution here to instructor Dave Pelz, who is too technical for me, but he used this phrase in his book).
4. My friend took many lessons from different instructors. He was wise enough to filter their advice and disregard what he didn't believe to be pertinent and accept that which fit. He zeroed in on instructors that had a teaching style that matched his learning style. If they didn't match, he didn't continue receiving instruction from them. Both he and I believe we are not looking to replicate the perfect swing (whatever that is) but instead have worked to develop swings that match our respective physical and mental strengths and limitations.
5. He and I may occasionally ask each other for feedback since we know each others' swings so well, but we don't look to every guy/gal on the range to give us the latest and greatest "tip."
6. Neither of us is hung up on scoring, although we both get a bigger charge out of playing really well than playing not as well (and you know how fickle the game can be). We both enjoy the company of playing companions and the learning process as much as the game itself. I think it is important to know why you are playing.
7. Random thoughts ... I enjoyed David Leadbetter's instructional vidoes on youtube (one about 1.5 hours on the short game --- and another set of full swing instruction which was designed for beginners but I honestly got a ton of good learning from watching it even though I've been with the game for 45 years ... these are dated but IMHO still pertinent and valuable .... and free on youtube!). .... .Another random thought, the book Extraordinary Golf is a good read that you may find valuable.

I wish you well with your efforts. People sometimes post their financial milestones; perhaps over time you'll post some of your golf milestones.

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Re: High handicap golf nut

Post by Dopey » Sun Aug 04, 2013 6:30 pm

I'm 27 and have been messing around with golf for quite a few years. My dad (57) has been golfing for quite a few years, but is currently golfing the best he ever has. We have different types of games though. I can out drive him by 30-50 yards, but he can putt.

I don't think the lack of flexibility will hold you back from having a good time and you'll definitely improve, but I'd look into Yoga. It'd be good for you for lots of reasons, and thinking you're doing it for your golf game may trick yourself into looking forward to it!

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Re: High handicap golf nut

Post by Mel Lindauer » Sun Aug 04, 2013 8:58 pm

Some tips:
1. Learn course management. When you hit a shot behind a tree or some other obstacle, get it back in play, rather than hitting several shots into the tree before you finally realize you should just get the ball back in the fairway.
2. Don't worry about distance; 180 down the middle is much better than 250 yards into the woods.
3. Work on your short game (chipping and putting). That's where most strokes are lost.
4. Remember, the most critical 6" in golf is between your ears.
5. If you can enjoy the fact that you're playing golf rather than shoveling snow or some other unpleasant chore and can enjoy the company of the folks you're playing with, you'll be relaxed and have a good time. Knowing that you'll hit a good shot or make a nice put from time to time is simply a bonus.
6. Finally, just realize that whether you shoot 75 or 95, the world really isn't going to change. It's just a game.
7. Have fun!
Best Regards - Mel | | Semper Fi

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Re: High handicap golf nut

Post by tim1999 » Sun Aug 04, 2013 9:38 pm

I can't give you a personal story as I am not even close to 50. However, a golf buddy of mine did drop from around a 30 handicap to around a 13 during his first year and a half after retirement at around age 60. He went from playing 3 times a month to playing 5-6 times a week. Most of his improvement came from two areas: improving "feel" and accuracy in his short game from 50 yards in through practice and playing; and avoiding "blowups" such as double/triple bogeys, usually caused by flubbing a shot only a few yards, hitting into a hazard he should have laid up to, not getting out of the sand on the first try, shanks/skulled shots, etc. His driving distance hasn't changed much at all.

It's about being accurate on the shots that don't require power or flexibility (chips, putts, pitches, greenside bunker shots) and avoiding major screw-ups elsewhere.

Also make sure you are playing the appropriate tees for your driving distance. If anything, it will improve your enjoyment of the round and the variety of clubs you get to hit. If you drive the ball say 225 yards or less, consider a set of tees for 18 holes that is 6000 yards or less.

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Re: High handicap golf nut

Post by Ace1 » Sun Aug 04, 2013 10:54 pm

How far you hit it doesn't matter ... Where (direction) does !
The game is played from 150 yards and in.
Practice on the short game 150 yards in produces the best chances for scoring improvement.
A 6 inch putt counts the same as a 300 yard drive.
A "perfect" par round of golf is typically 14 drives/ tee shots, 22 approaches with irons, wedges,
hybrids etc, and 36 putts.
Since 50% of the round is putting, the putter is the big stroke eraser in the bag!

Enjoy ... Golf is a game where if you can walk, you can play golf.

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Re: High handicap golf nut

Post by NOLA » Sun Aug 04, 2013 11:05 pm

I like the idea about yoga(not that I do it). Could most like help improve your game & prevent you from injuries down the road.

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Re: High handicap golf nut

Post by Pacific » Sun Aug 04, 2013 11:24 pm

When I was younger and played golf I would routinely shoot over 100. I moved overseas to a country that does not have a golf course. I started playing again about 4 years ago after a 20 year hiatus. I was as bad as before (but not worse). Then about a year ago I had my cataracts replaced with IOLs and picked up a friend's off-set Big Bertha (not made anymore). I started driving like a pro (hyperbole??). I can hit this particular driver, PW, SW, and that is about it. I took a few lessons from two people -- one guy at PGA Superstore (I regressed with him) and one former pro woman (former pro, not former woman) and she was great. I am totally inflexible but managed to improve. Just when you want to give up the stupid frustrating game, you watch those guys on the weekend and it looks SO EASY -- you know the next time out you will make a few bogeys and even a par once in a great while. Do not give up!!

I am now shooting in the 90s. If I can hang on for another 25 years I will be able to shoot my age. I am looking forward to it.

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Re: High handicap golf nut

Post by carolinaman » Mon Aug 05, 2013 7:02 am

You are doing the right thing by getting lessons. They are key to understanding a proper golf swing.

I am 68 and have played golf off and on for 50 years. My lowest handicap was 10 and I am currently about 17. I try to play once a week and may get in one practice session too. Flexibility is very important for golf and I suggest you find a regimen of stretching exercises that you do several times a week. It is difficult to get much better than a 15 handicap only playing once a week because timing and syncronization of the golf swing requires a lot of practice and the short game requires a lot of touch which only comes from practice and play.

Several suggestions. Be purposeful when practicing. Rather than just pounding golf balls, focus on making sure you are executing the swing correctly. Our minds can only handle one or two swing thoughts at a time. Once you understand your swing, you can focus on certain mechanics that are causing you problems. Also, try to swing easy, 50 to 75% speed. This helps develop tempo and timing. Probably the number one fault of golfers is we try to swing too hard.

There are some great golf instructional videos on Youtube on all aspects of the game.

Do not forget the short game: putting, chipping, sand and pitch shots. These are the scoring shots. A high handicapper can knock a bunch of strokes off their score by regular practice of their short game. A good short game can turn a lot of double bogeys in bogeys and sometimes pars with good chips and putts.

Golf is truly a lifetime game. I hope you continue to find great pleasure with it.

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Re: High handicap golf nut

Post by Wagnerjb » Mon Aug 05, 2013 9:38 am

I was a high handicapper (shot in the high 90's) from when I took up the game (no lessons) in college until right after I turned 40. I set myself a goal to beat my brothers, who used to regularly shame me in the family golf outings. I got down to a 16 handicap pretty quickly...in about 2 years. In another two years I was down to 12. And over the last dozen years (I am now 56) I am well into single digits (4-8 range). This was all done without any physical improvements, as I am a little less fit than when I was 40.

As others have mentioned, strategy, course management and short game pay the most dividends....by far. I read several books by Bob Rotella, an author on the mental game and strategy. I have also read several books by Dave Pelz, a short game guru. Of course, take lessons on the driving range, but take lessons chipping and putting too. And Bob Rotella will encourage you to take a playing lesson. You and your pro play 9 or 18 holes, and he analyzes what you are thinking and doing. This is great for course management and strategy. I have done this twice, they are VERY helpful.

When you get to the lower-handicap stage, the difference is in the strategy and the short game. Faced with a 230 yard shot to a green protected by bunkers, the high handicap guy instinctively takes out his 3 wood and flails away...landing behind the bunker, or in it. He duffs his chip into the bunker, then takes two shots to get out. His successful bunker shot is 25 feet from the hole and he three putts. Do this twice a round and you are well into the 90's. The lower handicap guy might take his 8 iron and lay up to 100 yards, from where he can be confident with his wedge. Or, if the lower handicap guy finds himself behind a bunker, he is confident in his chipping (he practices it a lot) and he hits safely over the bunker to a conservative part of the green. Then he two putts for bogey.....but not a big number.

Booming a 275 yard drive is fun, but it won't bring your scores down.

Best wishes.

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Re: High handicap golf nut

Post by 02sbxstr » Mon Aug 05, 2013 1:15 pm

Wagnerjb wrote: Booming a 275 yard drive is fun, but it won't bring your scores down.
Long drivers -- the woods are full of them.

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Re: High handicap golf nut

Post by AP/CP » Mon Aug 05, 2013 2:30 pm

I'm in my 30's and have been playing since I was 7, so I can't comment on learning the game late in life. You've gotten good advice above. I don't really disagree with any of it and I won't repeat it. But I have a slightly different opinion than most people about which aspect of the short game to focus on. In my younger days I was a mid single digit handicap. Now, early career demands and the demands of small children mean I don't play nearly as much as I would like. I'm lucky to play 10 rounds a year now. But at worst I'm a 10 - 12 handicap now. My game has gotten loose tee to green, but I know how to chip and pitch.

I totally agree that most of your score is the short game, but I think the ability to pitch and chip, from say within 50 yards or so to just around the green, is as important as putting if not more, and particularly for the mid to high handicapper. The reason is simple, you could be Ben Crenshaw or Tiger Woods with the putter, but if you're chipping and pitching the ball to outside 15 feet, you're not going to make those putts to save par or bogey. Those are low percentage putts for the pros, let alone us mortals. To me, scrambling is really about the ability to chip to within a few feet, so that you can make those putts. Yes, you need to practice putting, but you need to be able to chip*.

*I'm assuming basic competence with putting. In other words, 2 putting more often than not.

One more thing about learning the game, lessons are great (need the fundamentals) and so is spending time at a practice facility. But I learned the game best by actually playing golf. It's more fun that way too.

Have fun learning the game! It's simultaneously the most frustrating and most fun game I've ever tried.

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Re: High handicap golf nut

Post by dratkinson » Mon Aug 05, 2013 11:36 pm

One summer some college buddies offered to teach me golf. They believed I didn't have enough distractions or expenses.

After a short few months I'd scratched that itch and satisfied my need for golf once I discovered how to keep my score in the 60s. I quit on the fifth hole.
d.r.a, not dr.a. | I'm a novice investor, you are forewarned.

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Re: High handicap golf nut

Post by tphp99 » Tue Aug 06, 2013 5:11 am

Offshore wrote:How many games can you think of where the player may truely stink, but absolutely loves doing it and can't get enought of it! For me, that's golf.

I am taking lessons and practicing at least a 3 times/week. I play about once/week. Through lessons (PGA professional) I feel like I have a proper understanding of a good golf swing. However, at 53 years old I am not as flexible as I would like, but hope this will not prevent marked improvement.

I would feel (much) more motivated if I can find someone who can tell me they are a 15 handicap or better, and improved significantly at an age over 50. Anyone? Any words of wisdom on how you learned the game? Thank you!
I was paired up with an old guy once, I moved up and played from the white tees with the gentleman just to be nice, he would hit his medium-range approach shots with a wood, he'd never miss anything around the greens, I shot a 75 and he beat it by a stroke (or two) and casually mentioned he just shot his age. I knew two other golfers who could consistently shoot their age (by a couple of strokes) - drove me nuts.

These old guys never try crazy stuff: getting to par 5s in two, driving a short par 4, they lay up after a bad tee shot, punch out of trouble, and they were all really good around the greens.

Soo... Offshore, you've got another 20 years to get really good and drive those young kids crazy shooting your age.

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Re: High handicap golf nut

Post by brainstem » Tue Aug 06, 2013 7:25 am

Let me take you in a different path

Charlie Ellis talks about investing and amateur tennis in Winning the Losers Game ... It is not about who is a better tennis player but who makes fewer mistakes .... So too in golf

To paraphrase Paul Simon .... There are 50 ways to make a bogey

So what is your game's weak spots? What happens on the holes you make a triple and kill a round?

How many putts per round? I keep track of one and three putt greens ... I expect 32 putts a round on average .... What is your % of getting up and down from being within 20 yards of a green? How close can you get from 70 yards out ...I am unhappy if I am not within 10 feet. How many fairways do you hit per round? How do you do on par 3s and 5s ...par all the 3s and 5s and bogey the fours ... And you have an 82. ... What is the shape of your mis hits. Once you make it to bogey golf, the key to the game is consistency and picking up a shot or two here and there in the core elements of your game.

Why is golf so addictive? It is a giant Skinner box .... Intermittent positive reinforcement!

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Re: High handicap golf nut

Post by RDB » Tue Aug 06, 2013 7:39 am

Fall in love with your short game. By short game, I mean 100 yards and in. Like some others, I cannot comment on improving at an older age since I am 28. However, if there is a part of your game that being young and limber affects the least, it is your short game. I personally went from about a 12 handicap to a 4-5 in one summer by spending a lot of time on my short game. I would go to the range and chip and putt, then maybe twice a week hit a small bucket. In that bucket of balls, I would hit a couple mid irons, couple long irons, couple drivers, then 90% wedges. It is amazing how you can score when you can wedge it close. I think Mel mentioned course management as well, this is huge. Most people are auto-driver off the tee when a lot of times it is unnecessary and not the right play. People also try to play heroic shots rather than taking their medicine and getting back in play. This is hard to do consistently, but pays dividends. Enjoy, it is an amazing game, I just played at one of the best courses in Minnesota (for free) yesterday.
**for Frugal bogleheads, it is free to chip and putt at your local range**

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Re: High handicap golf nut

Post by carolinaman » Thu Aug 08, 2013 8:17 am

I totally agree with the comments that short iron game is most important for mid/high handicappers. I have started losing distance on my clubs in recent years and find myself often 10 to 30 yards from the green with need to land the ball on the green. This is what lob wedges are intended to do. I have started practicing a lot more with my lob wedge and it pays dividends. I am much more consistent with this club. I no longer fear a 20 yard shot over a bunker to a tight pin. Getting more proficient with the lob wedge has saved me several strokes a round.

I have a friend whose former husband was a golf professional. He spent 4 hours every day practicing his short game. That should tell us weekend golfers what to prioritize in our practice time.

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