Handicap Drop: 8.0

Yesterday GHIN adjusted my handicap for the last time this season.  I’m happy to report that I finished with an 8.0.  I made solid improvement throughout the course of the season.  I started the season off with a handicap of 12.4, was as high as 13.0, and steadily worked it back down to an 8.0.

I’m thrilled with the way the season went but I’m also a bit sad that I won’t be able to post any scores until April when the official 2010 season kicks off.

I played today and shot an 80 with 27 putts.  It was a pretty non-eventful 80 with a few really good shots, and a couple of nice putts that went in.  But it seemed like a pretty typical round and I know that I left a bunch of shots on the table.

I was pretty excited by how I was driving the ball.  I hit a lot of really good drives.  I definitely need to hit more greens in regulation.  My iron play was decent but not stellar.  My short game was pretty good although I did have a couple of errant chips, but most ended up within about 2-3 feet of the hole.

Does anyone know of a good indoor facility where I can practice my short game in fairfield county or westchester?  Mostly I’d like to practice putting, chipping and bunker shots.  There was a place I really liked in Norwalk, The Golf Training Center, but it closed down earlier this year.  I plan of updating this blog regularly anyway as I will continue to work on my game over the winter.  The plan for the winter is to continue to develop solid fundamentals on the full swing, and somehow find a place to practice my short game so I can get a killer short game over the winter.

Is patience the secret to breaking through?

Ever feel like you’re playing well but then you kind of get stuck on a plateau?  At some point your scores get stuck around the same number?  It’s happening right now and it’s pretty frustrating.

My last 5 18-hole scores in relation to my course handicap.

  1. +1
  2. -1
  3. -2
  4. E
  5. -1

They are not bad, in fact, I’m achieving my goal of shooting better than my course handicap.  But I’m not content.

The reason is that I feel like I’m leaving a lot of shots on the table due to short game errors.  I need to come up with a good plan for improving my short game.

What’s been especially frustrating has been the putting.  I’m hitting most of my putts on the line I want, at the speed I want, and they are just not going in.  I’m burning so many edges that it is really annoying.

I spoke with a PGA pro I know and he recommnded patience.  He said that sometimes it just goes like that with the putting.  But if you’re patient you can start making a couple of extra putts per round, then you start making a couple more, and your scores drop from 79 to 76 to 73, etc.

I know he’s right but it’s not easy to do.

Observations from today’s round

I am pretty happy with the progress I’m making.  My handicap is steadily going down, my consistency in scoring is much better, and my swing feels like it’s on solid ground.  Some things to still bug me.

I don’t get up and down enough.  I know that I have to improve my short game.  I need to leave short game shots close enough to easily one putt but it’s tricky.  This is my next challenge.  I feel like I’m plateauing around the 79-81 range.  And yet walking off the course I know where I left shots on the table.  Today I had an 81, which is one under for my course handicap so again, it was a solid round.  Although I do feel it could easily have been 4 or 5 strokes better.

I had a thought that was helpful on the golf course today. The image of the inner workings of a clock, seeing all the gears moving, synchronized, no one gear speeding up.  It seemed to keep me much more synchronized and helped with the long game.  I had a really good driving day and I had a lot of good shots.  It does get to me when I have a wonderful tee shot, and a bad approach shot.  It’s a nice drive wasted and it drives me crazy.  I had two of those, with the approach shots coming up way short (I had enough club but actually hit the ball fat).  I’m pretty sure that is just a mental game thing.

A couple of things were interesting.  I really felt comfortable driving the ball, and I also felt really comfortable with my fairway woods.  I’m not sure why that was but it was nice.  On 18 I hit my drive off the toe but still got it out with pretty good distance and in the fairway.  I had about 230 up hill and I hit a nice 4 wood, pin high, but in the rough on the left side of the green.  I ended up 1 putting for a par 5 but could easily have had a birdie if I had chipped it close.

I burned the edge on so many putts today.  Had a few of those gone in it could have been a stellar round for me.  I realized that I was reading 1″ too much break on each putt.  I didn’t correct that until the 17th hole but it made a difference once I figured that out.

Handicap Drop – Now 8.6

Once again my handicap index has dropped.  I think all of the things I’ve been working on are having a major impact on my game and how I play it.

This is the lowest my handicap has ever been and I’m pretty excited about that.  I am also very excited because I know I still have much I can improve on.  I think to move to scratch I will really need to improve my short game.  I think the strategy for this will be as follows:

  1. Putting.  Must become a better putter.  You can always save strokes putting well.  Putting practice will continue while I work on the other short game areas.
  2. Bunker game.  I am finding myself in more fairway bunkers and bunkers by the green.  When I miss from long range I don’t miss by as much, but the misses are just enough that they put me in the bunker. I will need to improve my sand save percentage as well as my ball striking from fairway bunkers.
  3. Pitching and chipping from 60, 30 and 15 yards.  Getting up and down from these ranges is essential.

So far this has been an exciting journey.  Things have not totally gone according to plan, but what actually does?  I’m playing with more freedom and confidence and it is just such a joy to be on the golf course because I’m always learning something.

Interesting discussion on Golf WRX

I’ve been discussing the psychological effect of the ball on the swing over at GolfWRX and some very interesting things have come up.  I want to synthesize the best nuggets of information from it, but I recommend reading it.

The Psychological Effect of the Ball on GolfWRX