To any golfer who plays to a handicap of around 20, there can be a bit of anxiety when they try to break 90 in a round.
All targets should be just out of reach so that you have to really stretch yourself.
Yet if you approach this goal in a practical manner and with a real sense of purpose it is perfectly attainable.
In other words, if you have a smart approach, you can do it.
On most courses a gross score of 90 represents playing bogey golf – one shot per hole over par.
That is perfectly reasonable and acceptable in club golf. But the mindset of most golfers is that of the ‘super-optimist’.
Many of us have parred all the holes on the course but we have never achieved it all in the same round. So why do we expect to do exactly that?
Similarly, there will be holes on the course that we have birdied – so we expect to birdie them every time we play them. How smart is that??
Let’s be realistic – a 20-handicap golfer will play some good shots interspersed with some bad ones. Accept this as fact and when you play a poor shot treat the next shot as a challenge to minimise damage.
Don’t do what many golfers do – don’t beat yourself up and let one bad hole ruin a promising round.
Lack of mind control is a major reason why many golfers never progress to reach their full potential in the game.
Not only are they hard on themselves, they are also guilty of attempting incredible shots if they come off, but which usually don’t and only compound the misery.
What I am saying is when you are in trouble look for the solution which will cost you the least number of shots.
Is it not smart at the beginning of the round to actually ‘take’ the shot you receive at every hole and play the hole accordingly? What I mean is treat the par 3s as par 4s, the par 4s as par 5s and the par 5s as par 6s.
At the level of an 18+ handicap golfer you will be lucky to avoid at least one seven on your card. If you do that’s great, but be realistic.
The worst feeling is the pressure you put on yourself by thinking that you MUST make a 3 at a par 3. Sometimes you will, but there will be times when you will get a 5 or maybe worse.
So USE YOUR SHOTS and take the pressure off of yourself.
There is another option.
You can help yourself reduce your handicap by practising your putting every day.
Look at the pros. Their best rounds come with the least number of putts.
Logical really isn’t it??
But you don’t become a good putter through accident, it is by design and that entails practise. I suggest to my players that they spend at least 30 minutes per day putting on whatever surface they are near.
Obviously grass is preferable but if you are in the office or at home then improvise using carpet for a slow green and wooden or tile flooring as ‘virtual’ fast greens. And practise 6-10 feet putts to a small coin. You will adjust to the speed of grass much quicker if you have experience of other surfaces.
It may sound crazy but it works.
The easiest way for a high handicap golfer to reduce his / her handicap is by improving their putting – FACT.
Here’s another fact – some days you will go out and play below your handicap and then you may get cut.
There is no reason to change the strategy, only to move the goalposts a bit – if you get down to 18, then set a target of 15 and use your 15 shots where you receive a shot.
If you still play to 18 then you have played to your handicap.
Is that not simple to understand??
Does it not take some pressure off of you?
When you then play to 15 you’ve actually played 3 shots below your handicap, so you get cut again.
But isn’t that what the game is about?
Many golfers complicate the game by thinking badly or not at all.
Yet I’ve given you options to help you play well and reduce your handicap. Here are a few more items that will help you with your thinking.
We all get them, it is normal but learn to turn nervous energy into positive adrenalin. We all get excited when we play well and the adrenalin starts to rush.
But we need an ‘edge’ so take some slow deep breaths to control the adrenalin rush and learn to play and especially putt with your nerves under the control of your head.
Commentators talk about the swing holding up under pressure. It is the person who holds up under pressure and controls the swing, so let’s condition the mind.
Play one shot at a time, stay in the present. This old adage is the best so learn to do it. Concentrate on your game and NEVER worry how others are doing. Just maximise your own talent.
If you don’t have one, create a simple one that you can replicate. Combine that with a game plan and stick to it – conservative strategy and cocky swing!!
Practise Makes Perfect
Quality rather than quantity, focus on target and routine. Resist the temptation to analyse the bad shot in the middle of a round, leave that to the practise ground.
Avoid all mechanical thoughts in competition and go with what you have.
In Your Mind
See yourself shooting low rounds, winning an event.
Golf is a game and is to be enjoyed. I know it can be annoying and frustrating but that’s largely due to the expectations you put on yourself and the pressure you put on yourself.
So accept whatever shot you hit, enjoy the challenge, throw away your expectations and HAVE FUN.
You know what?
Most of this information is pure common sense so if you don’t break 90 using these simple principles then you never will!!