The average golf handicap in the U.S. for men is 16.1 and for women it is 28.9. Sadly, these numbers have not dropped much in the past few years….Why? It’s not technology! Technology has definitely helped us hit the ball farther and with less effort. Don’t believe it? Try taking out your old clubs from 10, 15 years ago and try to hit them. I had an old driver that I tried hitting — and boy was it hard to it! Definitely was much heavier and stiffer than I remembered. But I played with that driver, and somehow I managed to get it up in the air in those days. But if I hit my driver from 2014 compared to my old one, I would blast it past the old one, and with more ease and with less effort. So, technology has helped us hit the ball farther. So why haven’t handicaps changed with technology over the years? One reason: PRACTICE. I know it is hard for some of you, when you have cut time out of your busy schedule for golf, to go play on the course instead of going to practice. I understand that, but you know that is not going to reduce your handicap. Now, for some people that don’t care about improving their game or don’t want a handicap – that’s fine for them (Though I think you would enjoy it more if your practiced a little). But for those of you who want to enjoy playing better, you should practice. You can’t go ‘play golf’ and ‘practice’ on the golf course at the same time! I have many students say that – when I ask them if they practice their response is “yes – out when I go play golf” Promise me that if you have 3 days of golfing in a week (lucky you!), that you should spend one of those days practicing. Practice your short game – putting, chipping and pitching. If you cannot commit to that, then try to practice some before you tee off — go to the range and take some full swings, but work on your short game around the greens. You should have a proper blend of practice time versus play time — for the higher handicapper – more practice time than playing time. For the lower handicap, equal it out. So for those of you who say you are practicing but your handicap is not getting lower — maybe you are not practicing enough in certain areas. Try this: when you go out to play next time, keep a record of the number of putts you made, the number of chips you played and the number of times you were in the bunker. If you are high in those numbers, I would say that would be area #1 to work on. I would be glad to have a look at your scorecard and see what area you need to work on most in your golf game. Always break up your practice sessions; if you are getting bored with working on your full swing, change it up and work on bunker play. The moment you lose focus you lose the ability to improve. Have a practice plan. I would rather you spend 1/2 hour with good solid practice time hitting your pitches close to the flag than spending an hour hitting with no purpose. Remember the old saying – ‘It’s QUALITY not QUANTITY’. ( I tell the kids that in our Saturday morning kids clinic — most of them have no idea what I am talking about. 🙂 ) So promise me for 2015 you will focus on practice, and within that practice time, have a goal and try to accomplish that goal. Example – make 8 out of 10 putts within 2 feet of hole. Get out of the bunker in one shot! I want to see you lower your handicaps and enjoy golf more. Again, please feel free to stop by and let me take a look at your scorecard and see where you can improve. Until next time! – Mary
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