HOW I WENT FROM A 30 HANDICAP TO A SINGLE DIGIT IN TWO YEARS
Whether you are a new golfer or have been playing for decades, we all want the same thing: to be a single digit handicap or better. As an attorney, golfing with clients is a must, and slicing off the tee box can kill the deal. So, I dedicated the last two years to improve my handicap from a 30 to an 8, and I plan to keep that number going down. I’ll share the formula for success I used, which will work for any golfer.
Use the following four steps to improve your golf game drastically:
1. Get fitted for equipment. If you are buying clubs off the rack, you aren’t giving yourself the best chance for success. Golf technology is evolving every year, and although you don’t need to buy a new driver each year, if you’ve been playing with the same clubs for five-plus years, it’s time to take advantage of the new equipment.
Newer clubs have a lower and deeper center of gravity (CG), creating an easy launch off the face. Even off-center strikes can produce a straight shot with the right set of clubs. Any major golf store will fit you for free; just make sure you get the correct length of club and size grip. The clubs don’t swing themselves, so don’t neglect instruction and practice, but getting the right equipment is a vital piece of the puzzle.
On drivers and hybrids, some of the newest equipment in 2017 have premium shaft options. Generally, a $300 driver has a low-grade $15 shaft that you should change. The shaft is the engine of the club so getting custom shafts will add distance and forgiveness, guaranteed. Talk to the guys at Golf MD in Lenexa—they can help fix what ails your game.
One thought on putters: since you use it more than any other club in your bag on every round of golf, it should be the most tailored club in your bag.
2. Get good golf instruction, regularly. We’ve all heard someone say “I should get a lesson sometime.” To be effective, you need regular lessons—not just one—from a PGA-certified pro. Getting quality instruction from the same instructor can turn slices into draws and give you the confidence to play with anyone on any course.
Years ago, golf instructors started instruction with chipping and putting and then graduated to the driver. Now, instructors have been pressured to start with the driver because we all want to outdrive our friends. Resist that temptation! Get instruction on your short game and irons first. My best friend regularly outdrives me by 50 yards, but my ball is in the hole first most of the time because of my training and practice on the short game.
3. Read quality golf books for a higher golf IQ. There are thousands of books on how to improve your golf game, and I’ve read many of them. But don’t worry, there is only a handful that you need to read to up your golf IQ. Here are my top reads:
- Mechanics: Practical Golf by John Jacobs
- Ball flight laws: The Practice Manual by Adam Young (You only need to read the first 50 pages)
- Short game: Dave Pelz’s Short Game Bible
- Mental game: Golf is Not a Game of Perfect by Bob Rotella
4. Practice your short game every day: I live just off a golf course and have a golf simulator in my game room, but I still practice most of my short game in my backyard and living room. You don’t even have to spend time away from your family while practicing. I hit pitch shots to my son in his baseball glove and practice putting and chipping on the carpet while watching TV at night with my wife.
Chipping and the bump and run
The only mechanical advice I will give is the most important lesson you can learn in the short game. When you miss your approach shot, you must be able to chip the ball within 8 feet of the hole for a one putt. Try this shot I developed based on principles I learned from Dave Peltz’s book. It gets me up and down from 25 yards out to just off the green.
1. Position the ball in the back of your stance, just inside your back ankle. This will help you hit the ball with a descending blow and as Dave Pelz’s book says “hit the little ball (golf ball) before the big ball (the earth).”
2. Turn your feet 30 degrees toward the target and have 70 percent of your weight on your front foot, which also promotes the descending blow.
3. Use a putting stroke to hit the ball. That’s right, do not use your hands or wrists for power. This will create consistency and clean contact.
4. Don’t take the club back very far (depending on the length of the shot) and make sure your follow through is 20 percent farther than your backswing. This will ensure accelerating through the ball.
5. Use the right club. I use anything from a 9-iron to sand wedge for this shot. Use a 9-iron when you need the ball to roll farther once it hits the green and use a more lofted club for less roll.
If you perfect this shot, you’ll be chipping in and getting up and down much more often.
I hope these four steps improve your game as much as they have mine.