From 12 Handicap to Scratch…
From 12 Handicap to Scratch…
And How He Plays The Game...
Close friend of PG, Ben Brooks, has kindly agreed to guest-write this article for us, on how he became a scratch handicapper and the way he approaches and plans his rounds. Thanks Ben!
Having played sport at a reasonably high level, I began playing golf quite late. Once I had the bug, I began looking at how I could get as low as possible.
The first consideration was equipment. I found Precision Golf online, and booked an appointment. We established that I had a 3 wood with a supposed regular shaft however it was playing more like a ladies/senior flex; explaining why I struggled to hit it with a consistent shape, even though I felt I made a decent swing. My irons were also a concern; my club pro at the time had lengthened the shafts, but this dramatically increased the swing weight of the clubs making them very difficult to control. After watching me hit a few shots, Precision Golf were able to recommend the best club set up for my swing, so if I hit a bad shot it was down to me, not the club!
Once fitted by Precision Golf, I had much more confidence in my swing and my clubs and as a result my handicap began to drop. However to ensure I continued to get better I also looked at how I approach the game and my overall game plan. I am not particularly long, so I am never going to overpower a golf course – I therefore began to focus on my short game, and course management.
As a scratch golfer, I would now approach each hole with two considerations:
- Can I attack the hole and make birdie or better
- What is the worst shot/mistake, that could lead to a double or worse
If I consider each type of hole:
1) Where is the pin located: If it is just over the front edge, then I need to make sure I play a club that even if hit poorly, covers the front edge. If it is at the back, then I need to make sure I know the distance to the back edge, and play a club that even if flushed, will not carry the green.
2) Establish where the trouble is; if the pin is accessible, or I am holding a short iron, then I can afford to attack it, however if not I will play for a three. I would ignore the pin, pick a specific target in the safe part of the green, and look to take two putts and walk on.
1) Consider the length of the hole, and the trouble around the tee shot. If it is a long par 4, it is unlikely I can be aggressive, but I need to secure a par. In this instance, if the trouble on the tee shot is in range of my driver, I may hit 3 wood, and accept a longer shot in. I would then make sure that my second shot, if I miss the green, is in a position where I am not short sided, and have a good chance of getting it up and down.
2) If it is a shorter par 4, then I would work back from the pin position. If the pin is near the front, then I need to have some spin on the ball in order to attack it. This means that I may hit a shorter club (5 wood/hybrid) off the tee, leaving me a full shot in, at a distance I am comfortable with. If the pin is at the back, then I may hit a longer club off the tee, getting closer to the green. In this position, I have the capacity to run the ball up the green, so do not need to be hitting a full shot.
2) If it is too long to get up in two, or the wind is into me, then the premium is on hitting the fairway, and being in a position to control the third shot. I might hit 3/5wood off the tee, and then lay up to a particular yardage, in order to attack the pin. Again, as with the par 4, I would consider the location of the pin, to determine the best place to lay up.
Overall, I would always consider the pin placement, and let this dictate my strategy. I always want to leave myself the easiest putt on the green, whether it is for birdie, par or bogey. This sometimes means hitting a shorter club to leave an uphill putt, rather than a slippery 5 footer on a down slope.
If I miss a tee shot on a Par 4 for example, then rather than just hacking it out, I would consider the pin location, and lay up in the best way. If I make no worse than bogey on any hole, then any birdie squares up the card.
Quite often, I am one of the shorter hitters in the four ball, but will still hit the shorter club off the tee (i.e I would hit 3 wood, when others hit driver). The reason for this is that I am doing my best to eliminate the large number. Driver may leave me a shorter club in, but if the risk of missing it brings in double or treble, then I would rather be in control of a longer club from the fairway.
My strategy is based around the fact that it is not how good my good shots are, but how bad my bad shots are. This means I am always playing the percentages, and not just reaching for the driver on every tee.
Precision Golf has been most useful to this aim. It is crucial that I have a good understanding of how far I hit each club, and that with the woods/hybrids, I am in control of the shot in order to hit the fairway. I now have a good (and realistic) understanding of how far each club goes, (carry and run out) and the ball flight I should expect. My aim is to hit it close, not as far as possible, so if I need a 9 iron to cover 120 yards but someone else hits gap wedge, so be it.
In saying that I still regularly visit Precision Golf to see if the latest technology will give me more length off the tee!
At the end of the day, I reduced my handicap by making sure I had the right equipment for my swing and focussing on the short game (120 yards and in), and some of my best rounds are a product of the pars that I saved, as opposed to the birdies I made.
Thanks to Precision Golf for the work they have done.
For more information on the latest equipment or if you have any questions on any of PG’s services, feel free to give the PG Team a shout on +441784 470088 or firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions! Thanks again to Ben Brooks for writing this!