Book rec? Looking for story of 18 handicap who gets to 9

The Dan Plan is a book about a non-golfer who becomes, I think, a 2 handicap. Good read.

I’d love to follow the story of someone who goes from 18 to 9. Everything. Which lessons. Fitness. Strategy changes. Practice routines. Frustration at slow rate of change. Negotiations with wife about weekend rounds. Whether to get fitted clubs “before finalizing that new swing.” Etc.

1 Like

Bob Rotella writes some amazing books…try “golf is not a game of perfect”.

With getting from 18 to 9, i don’t believe the first half will be that difficult if you concentrate on course management; you’ll easily shave off 3-4 shots a round.

The remainder down to 9 is fine tuning and building a repetitive process for each shot type.

I got to 8 without lessons and limited reading as i believe if you’re constantly reading or watching youtube, you’ll always be changing rather than honing.

Good luck

It’s not exactly what you are looking for, but the chasing scratch podcast is guys at 11 handicaps trying to get down to scratch without selling their children or divorcing their wives…

There isn’t a ton of focus on real world balance, though.

My overall strategy for improving golf is figure out what I need to improve, find the time to do it and then commit to practicing in ways that actually improve my game.

If I have 45 minutes of range time, I don’t just bang balls. I warm up, focus on what I want to improve and then try to do drills to achieve that. @jon and @Adamyounggolf talk about block vs random practice and I think it’s probably one of the most overlooked ideas in actually improving.

You don’t need a ton of time to improve at golf. Identify where you are losing strokes, and work on that area… then start over.

I think the biggest leaps in improvement come from:

Eliminating a two way miss off the tee. If you only miss one direction, you have a much bigger target. It also helps with confidence.

Get confident from 20 yards and in. If you know once you get inside that circle you are no more than 3 strokes from finishing the hole, your scores will go down.

Get those two down and it’s not hard to get to a 9 handicap.


Thank you. Just ordered the book!

1 Like

Thanks for the podcast rec, that sounds great.

1 Like

I’ve said this elsewhere, but if you listen to the first episode and like it, you’ll like the whole thing… if the first episode isn’t your cup of tea, then stop listening to it… More than anything, it made me want to talk about golf with other people more and wish I had a golf buddy…

It’s basically why I’m here (both as an outlet to talk about golf and because they talk to Adam, who podcasts with Jon)


Tom Coyne’s “Paper Tiger” is along these lines and a great read.

He spent about a year trying to go from 11 (I think) down to scratch and attempt to Monday qualify for an event.

I highly recommend it as it was a fun journey to follow.


I don’t know of any books about going from 18 to 9. Probably because it’s not that difficult. It certainly doesn’t require complex lessons or fitness routines. Just follow Hank Haney’s three rules:

“I have a very simple concept of golf,” Haney said over the phone. “There are three things you need.

“First, you have to eliminate penalty shots. Golf’s so hard, you can’t add them up two or three (strokes) at a time. You need one swing, one shot.

“Second, you have to eliminate 3-putts. You don’t always have to make a putt. You get outside 15 or 18 feet, even the touring pros make only about seven percent of those putts.

“Third, you have to eliminate two shots (from the same position) – for example, two pitches or two sand shots. You don’t have to get the ball up and in, but you have to get it on the green.”


Came here to say this. Good read for sure.


Thanks - just ordered that. Now I have to find more time to read - and yet not play less golf. Solution - no chores?


I’d say the two Pelz books (short game and putting) would be good choice. It can be super helpful in changing your perspective on scoring and practice and perhaps the most straightforward way to lower your handicap. There are other more modern books that can teach the same thing or better but they are a good starting point.

This is a great thread. Missed it first time round.

This is my story. 2016 - I set a goal to get from 18hcp down to 9.9 by the time I turned 50 in 2020. Spoiler alert, I’m now on 19.6 and pushed my target out to 2025.
As well as owning premium equipment, I set goals, I practice, I read, I’ve learned strategy and psychology. I keep fit and work on mobility. I have training aids. I’ve been for lessons. I focus on process rather than outcomes. I diligently manage and my analyse my Shotscope data identifying and setting new goals. I have a journal where I keep notes, reflecting on rounds and practice sessions. I am doing everything I can think of but am not improving on average. I occasionally have flashes of playing at around 15 but that’s about once or twice a year.

Why do I do it? Believe me it is so frustrating! I nearly gave up in 2018 but I know I am slightly obsessed. I just love the game and just keep turning up snow, rain or shine. I grew up in Scotland and golf is in my DNA.

One day, whether it’s 2025, 2030 or 2035 - I will hit 9.9. I might even write that story.


Any luck on this journey? Finding marital bliss? Get new clubs?

Excited to see this thread. I just had a lesson this week and told my coach that my goal was to drop 10-12 strokes off my game. After a 12 year hiatus from golf, I played 93 rounds this year and finished at a 21 handicap. Would love to get to a 10-12 in one year. After seeing my stats, coach said no problem. “We’re going to eliminate your 4 penalty strokes per round and drop about 5-6 putts per round first,” he said.

I’m getting monthly lessons and will dial up as needed once the season starts. Excited to see how it goes. I just joined this site last week, so I can keep you posted on my journey as well, since we match up pretty close.

I did read the Rotella book earlier this year. I will add the others to my reading list.


Please do keep us updated!

Eliminating penalty strokes will be a huge help, but that also implies you either have a big 2 way miss or aren’t selecting appropriate targets… Improving that will help across the course, and not just on the holes you are currently getting penalized on. Golf is much more fun from the fairway!!

I have no good advice on putting… I’m working on finding tangible ways of improving myself and will hopefully find some stuff that is actionable for others that I will share here as I do it…

You are on the right path with monthly lessons, and I hope your scores start dropping soon!

1 Like

Thank you. Have historically fought the two-way miss, especially off the tee. With a new swing in the works, I have already made progress there. Purchased a perfect putting mat last month, so I’m getting some good practice during these cold winter days.

1 Like

Here are two books that might interest you:

  • John Richardson “Dream On” he went from shooting 103 to even par in one year!!!
  • The second book is “Hacker to Hero” by Dr. Michael Oliff. He went from a 12 HCP to 0 HCP in one year.

I commented about the latter book in another thread, so if you do some searching you might find it.

I spent time with Dan McLaughlin when he was in Florida, in the early stages of his journey… he is an interesting person… he never did make it to the tour or complete his 10,000 hours. He had injuries, not sure his plan was solid, didn’t have the financial backing he needed, … but he persevered for quite a while before giving up his dream. Here is a link to an article about The Dan Plan in The Atlantic.


Below is a post from a PGA Golf Pro who helped a guy go from a 36 HCP to a 6.2 in one year. His player was recognized in one of the golf magazine’s as having made the best improvement in his GHIN HCP in one year.


Here’s the story behind it, and the disclaimer. About 8 years ago, I had a student come to me who was a 36 hdcp - best round 110, averaged round 120. His goal was to shoot par that year. I’ve seen the threads on here about doing this, and it is possible but it is not probable. I explained to him that it would take time, money, instruction, and a lot of work with no guarantee that it could/would be done. He was 28, not athletic at all, but had time, money, & desire. We spent 3 months working on his swing (very over-the-top, lots of moving parts) just to develop a consistent, somewhat solid fade. Since his goal was to score, I developed a program that is scoring based - I have tweaked it some over the years, but basically it’s about the same.

After I created this, I gave it to 4 tour caliber players (1 PGA Tour, 2 Nationwide, 1 NCAA All-American) and asked them to run through the program and tell me how long it took them to complete & if they would change anything. It took them between 1 1/2-2 hours to complete and they felt it was great for someone looking to lower their handicap. I gave it to my student and he came back a few days later saying he’d spent over 6 hours on the program - and hadn’t completed the 2nd stage (lag putting)! I knew then, it would work. We continued to work on his game, and he practiced the routine constantly. Over the next few months he became one of the best putters & wedge players at our club, and he shot 72 in October of that year. When he shot par, he didn’t carry a driver or 3 wood and played a low, fade (almost a slice). He was recognized as the most improved player in the country that year - ending the year as a 6.2 handicap. Let me tell you, for a couple months, no one could touch him in a net game - it was fun to watch, and he credits this routine for allowing him to reach his goal. He worked his a** off, and he needed more than just this routine (technique, mental game, strategy, etc.), but this is easily a guideline for players instead of just beating balls. This program is currently used by at least 8 NCAA golf teams as well.

The disclaimer:

  1. I don’t promise you’ll shoot par doing this.
  2. This is a good starting point. It’s designed for mid-high hdcp. players. I don’t have tour players do this, and if you’re already a low single digit hdcp, it’s probably not much use to you, but you may find it helpful to identify a weakness
  3. If it seems too easy, make the reps or targets match your level of play. This is designed to help you improve the scoring areas of the game.
  4. Go through your pre-shot routine before shots - I want this to simulate playing golf.
  5. Once you’ve done the program a few times, add uneven lies, different shaped shots, etc. to challenge yourself.
    6)The program can be done in one session or broken up into several - you must start at the beginning & can only move to the next section when you have completed a section. You cannot move to chipping until you completed putting, etc. So a player who can’t lag putt will not hit full shots for a while. If you are “stuck” on putting, take a break every 20 minutes and stretch your back, get something to drink, just do something else, you can certainly hit balls, but don’t skip part of the program.

It is based on a 2 week format - do program A for 2 weeks then program B for 2 weeks, then back to A, etc.

Sorry for the long intro- I just didn’t want to drop the routine down without sharing the background & what it is designed to achieve. If you have questions or anything you believe I should add, please don’t hesitate to let me know!

Here is the Ultimate Practice Routine, enjoy!

Program A, First 2 weeks, in this order:

25 in a row from 3 feet

Lag Putting
20 in a row from 20 feet stopping in a 3 foot circle (WHAT HE MEANT WAS A 6 FOOT RADIUS AROUND THE HOLE)
20 in a row from 30 feet stopping in a 3 foot circle
20 in a row from 45 feet stopping in a 3 foot circle

8 out of 10 in a 3 foot circle from 20-30 feet

25 in a row landing & stopping on the green from 30 yards
25 in a row landing & stopping on the green from 50 yards
25 in a row landing & stopping on the green from 70 yards

10 out of 10 out of bunker
6 out of 10 stop inside the length of a flagstick

Long Bunker shot:
5 out of 10 on the green from 30-50 yards

9-iron 6 out of 10 land & stop on green
7-iron 6 out of 10 land & stop on green
5-iron 4 out of 10 land & stop on green

6 out of 10 land & stop in fairway (if you’re on a range set 2 targets the width of a common fairway).

Program B, Second 2 Weeks:

25 in a row from 5 feet

Lag Putting
30 in a row from 20 feet stopping in a 3 foot circle
30 in a row from 30 feet stopping in a 3 foot circle
30 in a row from 45 feet stopping in a 3 foot circle

7 out of 10 in a 3 foot circle from 40 feet

25 in a row landing & stopping on the green from 40 yards
25 in a row landing & stopping on the green from 60 yards
25 in a row landing & stopping on the green from 80 yards

10 out of 10 out of bunker
7 out of 10 stop inside the length of a flagstick
7 out of 10 out of bunker from uneven/buried lies

Long Bunker shot:
6 out of 10 on the green from 30-50 yards

pw 7 out of 10 land & stop on green
8-iron 6 out of 10 land & stop on green
6-iron 5 out of 10 land & stop on green

7 out of 10 land & stop in fairway


Love your story and your persistence.

There’s selection bias in storytelling. Of course people who hit goals are quick to share, and those who do not often don’t. But my guess is there are more with your story than the gainers.

I wonder: has anyone ever analyzed the national handicap data to discover how many people, who have a steady handicap of X (say 18) for a few years, ever shave 5+ strokes off their rounds?


Thanks Juan. Look fwd to reading the books, and I like the drill routine.

1 Like