Golf Made Simple Blog

How One Golfer Improved 17 Strokes! How Did He Do It?

Why do some Golfers improve while others are stagnant for years? I know of one Golfer that has been playing for 15 years and has been a 21 handicap for 13 of those years. I also know of another Golfer that first came to GMS 3 years ago as a 28 handicap and is already down to an 11 handicap.

Why such a difference?

I had some detective work to do to find out why these 2 Golfers are going in opposite directions. So I went out on the golf course with one Golfer at a time to watch them play a hole. And what I found was incredibly interesting.

This is what happened –

I first went out with the 21 handicap to watch him play. On the 1st hole, a 379-yard Par 4 that is pretty straight with a bunker on the left side at about 245 yards and out-of-bounds running all the way down the right side – I asked him – What are you going to do here?

He said “Marc, I’m going to hit my Driver.” So I said where are you aiming? He said “Well down the middle, where else would I aim?” So the 21 handicap aimed down the middle and hit a slice to the right that went about 190-yards and almost went out-of-bounds. He said “Dang it, I hate this Driver, all I ever do is slice it.”

We get to his golf ball and he had 189-slightly-uphill-yards to the hole with a sand bunker that protects the right-side of the green and a small opening on the left side of the green. The 21-handicap looks at the pin position chart in the golf cart and says “its pin position 3 today, so that means the flag is back right. I’m going to use my 3-iron.”

He hits a really good 3-iron that goes where he aimed, but it comes up about 5-feet short of the green and lands in the sand bunker. We get up to the golf ball, he takes out his sand wedge, aims for the flag and hits the golf ball over the green. “These sand traps are so inconsistent!” He then takes his 8-iron, 9-iron, pitching wedge and putter out of his bag and walks over to his golf ball on the other side of the green. After about 15-seconds of debate over which club to use, he selects his 9-iron and hits a pretty good shot that ends up about 9-feet short of the hole. He then leaves his first putt about 1-foot short and looks at me as he picks up his golf ball and says “I always double bogey this hole.”

Just from watching that hole I could tell why he was a 21 handicap, but I could also see how he could cut at least 6-strokes off his game instantly. He hit a pretty solid drive, he hit a really good 3-iron towards the green and he hit a pretty good shot from off the green – but he ended up with a double bogey – hmmm. The worst part of this situation is that he pretty much wasted 3 good golf swings in making a double bogey.

The 11 handicap (that improved 17 shots after GMS) and I are standing on the 1st tee. He takes out his Driver and stares toward the green in deep thought. He said “Marc, I’m going to hit Driver down the left-side as there’s out-of-bounds on the right and I’ve been fading the ball a little lately and I don’t want to be standing over my tee shot worrying that I might hit one to the right.”

“I see so many Golfers aiming down the middle that have a tendency to slice the ball, and then get so mad when they do hit one out-of-bounds. Almost as if they think that magically their slice is going to disappear on that tee shot. Also by aiming down the left side, if I do hit a good tee shot, it leaves me a great angle towards the opening on the left side of the green.”

So the 11 handicap walks up to the golf ball, aims down the left side and swings. He hits it with a small slice. The ball lands just right of the center of the fairway and rolls off into the right rough. “I’m glad I aimed left.”

We get up to his golf ball and he has about 196-uphill-yards to the hole. He surveys the situation and takes out his 6-iron. I look at him and ask – Can you hit your 6-iron 196-yards? That’s a big 6-iron. “I wish! There’s no way I could hit it that far. I hit my 6-iron on average between 155 to 165 yards. I’m going to again aim down the left side to give myself a good angle to the flag for my 3rd shot. There’s no reason to take out a 3-iron or fairway wood to go after that flag. If I did, I’d be lucky if I ended up on that green 2 out of 10 times. Some Golfers are satisfied with those 2 miracle shots. I’m more worried about where the other 8 shots end up!”

So he hits an OK shot that doesn’t go very high, but goes straight towards his target on the left side and ends up 41 yards short of the green. I say – You still have about 40 yards to go on your third shot. He replies “Well yes, but look at the angle I have. There are no obstacles in front of me, I’ve taken that bunker in front of the green completely out of play – It’s now an Ornamental Bunker and I should easily be on the green on my next shot. If I can get that shot close enough, maybe I can sink a putt for par or at worst, I’ll 2-putt for bogey. And after the tee shot I just hit and this second shot that I completely missed, I won’t be too upset with bogey.”

But don’t you want to try to make Pars? “What I’ve learned from GMS is that I’ll take my pars and birdies when they’re available. The downfall of many Golfers that can never break 100 or even 90 is that they’re always trying to make Par and always ending up with Double Bogey. I know that even if I’m not hitting the golf ball great on a given day, that if I play smart, I can limit my worst score to bogey.

So he takes out his sand wedge and makes his PLAN. “I’m going to hit a medium height shot that’s going to land about 5-steps onto the green and let it roll to the hole.” He goes through ‘See It, Feel It, Do It’ and hits a pretty good shot that lands about 2-steps onto the green and starts to roll towards the hole. While it ends up just 9 feet from the hole. He looks at me and says “Just missed my spot by about 3-steps, but I’m on the green and even though I have yet to hit a shot exactly like I’ve wanted to, I only have a 9-footer for Par.”

He reads the green and putts the golf ball. The ball just misses the right edge and goes 1-foot past the hole. He goes up to the golf ball and casually knocks in his 1-foot putt for bogey.

So the 21-handicap makes a double bogey hitting some pretty solid shots and the 11-handicap makes bogey without hitting one solid shot. And the funny thing is this is just one hole of 18. I’m sure this scenario is repeated often throughout the round. Was there a difference between how they approached this hole?

Which Golfer does your game most resemble?

The Monkey blames their golf swing for their bad scores

The Player knows that two Golfers with equally as good golf swings can have different experiences on the golf course because of their PLAN (or lack of)

Go ahead, come to GMS and learn to become a Player

Regards,

Marc Solomon

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