Only 1% of golfers get to that elusive scratch, so what do they do that helps them save shots? NCG’s resident plus-handicap golfer Hannah Holden has some tips for you
Have you ever wondered what it takes to become a scratch golfer? We dug into the Shot Scope data to find out.
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Not all aspects of getting down to scratch come down to technical swing changes. There are numerous things you can be doing in practice and on the golf course to lower your scores and help you get down to that elusive scratch handicap.
Get further down the hole
Scratch golfers hit driver more often, not necessarily because they hit it straighter than you, but because they understand the strokes gained value of being further down the hole. A shorter shot into the green is a significant advantage, even if you are hitting that shot from the rough some of the time.
Now, scratch golfers do average 260 yards carry distance with the driver, and there is a significant advantage to driving the ball further. So hitting the gym and getting faster would also be a great way to lower your handicap.
Make better club decisions
Approach play is one of the biggest components to scoring. Scratch golfers hit 62% of greens on average. Now some of this comes down to better technique, but they make better club decisions too.
They don’t miss the green short nearly as often as most club golfers do. A lot of this comes down to knowing how far they actually carry each club in their bag.
They also analyse their environment better. Where is the wind, which side of the green is the best miss, and will this lie affect how the ball flies or how much effective loft is on the club? All these small details affect which club you should be hitting, where you should be aiming and ultimately, if you hit the green or not.
Play the percentages
It can be easy to get too aggressive trying to make par. Sometimes, especially if you are short-sided, you have to accept you can’t get your chip shot as close as you would like because the situation doesn’t allow it.
Take a chip shot to a pin tucked behind a bunker. Playing a flop shot will give you the best chance of getting up and down, but it is also quite likely that you could dump the ball in the front bunker and take double. Get your ball safely on the green, so a two-putt bogey is the worst-case scenario.
Get their first putt close
When it comes to pace putting, scratch golfers are much better at getting their first putt nearer the hole. When putting from over 30ft, scratch handicappers get their ball inside 5ft compared to a 20 handicapper who leaves themselves over 7ft on average.
For each 1 inch, you are further away from the hole, you make your next putt 1% harder. This may not sound like much, but over 2 feet, you are significantly lowering your chances of holing out in two.
Twenty handicappers 3-putt 20% of the time they hit the green compared to just once every 39 holes for scratch handicappers. That means on the greens alone; a 20 handicap is 3.6 shots worse than a scratch golfer. If you want to lower your scores, practice your pace putting.
Take their medicine
Scratch golfers are the best at avoiding big numbers. The average scratch golfer makes three birdies a round, so the odd bogey is easily cancelled out. Doubles and triples, however, are very hard to come back from.
So if you get yourself out of position, take your medicine and get the ball back in play straight away and take the big numbers out of the equation.
Manage their expectations
Our expectations play a huge factor in our performance and how we react to bad shots. Golf is not a game of perfect and setting the bar too high for yourself is a sure way to get frustrated mid-round which will ultimately drive up your scoring.
If scratch golfers only hit 62% of greens, why do higher handicaps beat themselves up every time they miss the putting surface? Accept bad shots happen, leave them behind you and go focus on your next shot.
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