For the addicted HIGH handicap hackers

I love the game now, after decades of playing once or twice a year and without owning a set of clubs - just borrowed or rented. I’m starting my fifth season of regular play. Have had a club fitting. I’ve broken 100 exactly once in my life. Current index 28.6 I take lessons. I practice - mostly my swing but some putting, some chipping, some bunker shots.

Going crazy - why do I score so badly? But I love the game and enjoy the people.

I love watching the pros. But for me personally, I’m about as interested in competitive golf as competitive meditation. I compete with myself and the course. And the results are frustrating.

I don’t like Stableford and never count that way. I just want to break 100 regularly. Too much to expect?

A few books I love: The Match. Golf in the Kingdom. Harvey Pennick’s Little Red Book. Hogan’s Five Principles…

Is there anyone here who can understand what I’m feeling? Anyone with advice? sympathy?

I’m 72 and in good shape. I enjoy ski touring - that’s going uphill with climbing skins in order to ski down far from the groomed slopes. I won national and international rowing championships in college but was JV level at best in football, basketball and baseball.

Still crazy after all these years.


Millions like you, found this game so attached to our life. From the Kings and the Queens to the every walk of life.
You seem to be active throughout your life and just found your way to enter the gate for the golf kingdom.
Keep at it and the reward will be lined up for you. No secret as any other sports, which need to be familiarized with no other secret but getting into the thick of it.
The conversation between my first instructor ( he was a Hogan fan and true follower to the legend ) lingered with me all my golfing life. One of the things he said was, it’ll take 3-4 years for a weekend warriors to begin to know what they’re doing. I have personally only seen a couple of cases which were faster than his observation. The few who had more time and dedication to immerse in this game.
Breaking the triple digit ( we called it bicycle with training wheel ), is not at all that difficult. You had taken the lessons to put you on the right track for practice, Practice and play will be the only way to get better in this game. You will not be bored playing and practicing because you’re enthusiastic of this game. Keep at it.
The only thing I could tell you is, figure out where you could improve more. Was it the tee shot, greens in regulation or around the green ?
For the beginner’s level, make note of where are the bleeding holes ( triple or worse to par) , what caused it ?
If you could avoid the triples and the worse, and occasionally a bogey or par then, you’d go below the triple digit.

I can sympathize. I was the same for quite a while. I didn’t see improvement until I started practicing with more of a purpose. Same amount of time at the range, but I had at least a bit of a plan for improvement.

A better short game is definitely a must. If that’s better you won’t break 100 because you’re probably getting to the green in or 2 or 3 shots and then taking 4 or 5 more to get in the hole.

Playing smarter keeps the score down too. I would be 250 out and always trying to crush my 3 wood as far as possible…that is probably the worst thing a hacker that can’t hit 3 wood off the deck can do…and even if get 20 yards from the green that same hacker is still taking 4-5 more shots to hole out lol. Learn to play smarter; bogeys are not bad scores.

There’s more, but the bottom line is you need at least a bit of a plan for improvement.

Here’s what I can tell you, breaking 100 or even 90 is not difficult to do regularly. It does take a bit of work on your swing and distances. Here’s what I was told. Don’t look at a scorecard as far as par. If you bogey every hole you will shoot in the low 90s so par for you would be 90. Keep it simple. Breaking 90 that happens when you develop a reasonable short game. Breaking 80 is what happens when you learn to putt and work that into a decent short game. So for you, the goal is get on a par 4 in 3 shots. Break the holes down. I mean on a 400 yd par 4 if you hit your 5 iron 150yds that’s 2 5 irons and a wedge. Learn to manage your game and expectations. It’s a fun game, it’s even better when u play with friends in a great group. I hooked up with my group when I was 46. We’ve become pretty good friends, we actually have guys trying to get into our 4some, we have a steak dinner at my house every end of season and we all get together for a breakfast at the open in July. I’m 63 this year. So, don’t give up, keep working on developing your swing and learn your distances. Then learn to manage your game and expectations. It also won’t happen overnight, as you break barriers, 100, 90 will come fast, 85 slower, 80 even slower. Small steps as you develop a short game and confidence. Like a high handicap should not be worried about the pin, the target is a green! Have fun and good luck… Remember this… very few people will ask you how…they only ask you how many!

Thanks @Dewsweeper, @Kevomanc, and @MJTortella for the encouragement!

I started out always falling backwards and never finishing a swing up on my right toe. Now I seem to transfer my weight better and finish with my belly to the hole and up on the right toe. The big fault now seems to be hitting it fat. I bought a Divot Board and am getting good feedback.

I am also spending more time working on short game and putting, but I still spend most of my training on the full swing because that’s the most fun for me.

I have faith that my scores will come down, and in the meantime I’m having fun.

Maybe it’s time to play the course for scoring - meaning treating bogey as par and avoiding the “hero” shots.


Yes save the hero shots for scrambles and maybe match play. That can be tough to do though when you are only playing once a week. Shooting 93 instead of 103 is forgotten quickly, but that 1 in a million hero shot will live on lol.

Got 20 minutes? Watch this & try’n apply to your game. There’s 100s of break 100 articles (pun intended), videos & lessons online. Stick with 1 or 2 of them this season. Keep us updated on the good, bad & ugly.
ie. Find the bottlenecks YOU need to get past.

Golf sidekick break 100

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The most common reason for “fat” shot is failure to transfer weight to the front side. Beware of not get into the trap of “sliding” into the front side.
When you’re on the golf course, take a practice swing or two ( no more than that ) and meant it, practice as if there is a golf ball at the spot you pick, watch where the divot is, and place the golf ball accordingly in your stance when addressing it.
This is of course a band aide not a permanent cure but it should improve your on course ball striking for now.
Strengthen the lower part of your body, as Hogan would demonstrate that the golf swing starts from the ground up so is most the sports and martial arts advocate the power from the ground up. We have seniors do simple walk after the dinner with family (3-5 miles ) and gradually speeding up the pace then to slow jogging. Walking the golf course will also maintain your muscles in the legs and back.
I golf with a gentleman who came back from a serious neck injury after 20+ years and he walked the golf course with us, at an age of 78 back then.
Modern convenience which robbed us of walking often times not good for us.
Have a friend who was transferred to overseas for work for 3 years, and came back a slimmer guy and healthier. He was over weight, on medication for high blood pressure and other ailment. Lost 25 lbs. and rid of most of his medication after he came home from the overseas assignment. He simply had to walk more and take mass transit to get to places. It had very little to do with dieting since he could get anything he wish in all of the metro area around the world.

As someone who’s much more of a range rat than player, I’ve realized [Jon’s article saying just that, didn’t hurt] that playing more, and learning how to score low and boring, is going to do more for my game than more swing practice will.

Boring drive, boring shot to the back middle of the green, nice lag and tap-in, and that’s par. I hadn’t scored many pars, back when I had time to play. (Though I am going out early next week. Somehow. Stupid job…) No drama, just get it onto the green. And if you screw up that every other hole, that’s still low 80s.

It’s the OBs, dunkings, and other stuff that helps cause the snowmen and "X"s.


Thanks for the advice on when to go for the hero shots.
Remember, though, that I’ve only broken 100 once (a 91 somehow) so shooting 93 would be memorable!

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Thanks for the advice @Dewsweeper. Fitness is not the problem - it seems to be between the ears. That said, your advice on weight transfer is very important!

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@spud.308 - I like the way Golf Sidekick keeps score - resetting “par” on each hole to match my handicap and in addition, keeping score on each hole from 100 yards in - playing that as a Par 3.
Also his advice to forget distance off the tee and hit a club I can land in the fairway. I’m pretty confident in my driver but I hit enough bad ones to wreck my scores. And OB or lost ball screws up my head.

One more thing - Golf Sidekick says “golf karens” quibble about things like taking practice swings and hitting the sand in the bunker. “It’s not the US Open.” I like to know the rules and respect them, but I can see the value in deliberately flouting them sometimes.

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@JJG … Welcome to The Club of Aspiring Play-ahs! :wink::smile:

First: patience.
Golf is hard.

Then: keep doing what you’re doing … Lessons, practice and especially a LOT of work on the short game and putting.

This will help you drop more strokes more quickly vs other aspects of the game. Don’t chase distance - as your swing technique improves so will your distance!

Also teach yourself about the “mental game” - it is you against the course out there, buuuut … it’s also you against you. You will hit errant (not “bad”) shots - accept that this is a part of the game and focus on you next shot! Remember: golf is hard

So… I’m 66, playing mostly on but occasionally off for about 12 seasons, still solidly in the 90s (anywhere in the 90s depending on the day). Hoping to play consistently in the 80s by next season!

And, funny coincidence, did a little bit of ski touring myself but this was way waaaay back in my 20s.

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@cksurfdude Thanks for the advice and encouragement. “Errant” - I like that! What a useful word for a golfer.

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Where can you improve?
I’ve broken typical rounds (for a 23 hdcp.) into 4 strokes lost categories.
7 - fats & thins: mostly shots after the tee shot
4 - putting: 1st putt didn’t get close enough
4 - driving: REAL poor position off tee
8 - short game: chips, pitches, sand (poor result)
There’s others too like, club selection, misjudge wind, bad luck, etc. but they’re minimal.
Yup lotsa meat on the bone & low hanging fruit, but not much time to practice.

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@spud.308 That’s a good way to analyze things. Sadly, I would break strokes lost putting down into 2 parts - first putt not close enough, and, short putt missed.

I’ll start tracking these things. I expect fats will be a big culprit, both after the tee shot and in the short game.


I’m looking for someone to putt for me at the moment, winter greens suck! I can’t make 2 ft putts consistently. That is frustrating it is making my scoring explode. I played on Saturday hit 2 par 5s in 2 and scored a randy +1. Wanna be honest and score…. Putts putts putts!

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Break them down how ever you want, add a category, etc.
An ol’ friend used to call them “If ida’s”.
If ida, hit that fairway, got that 25’er to 3’, not flubbed X shots and so on.
I take an extra scorecard to keep track & mark it up like this. Get as detailed as you want. There’s apps that’ll do this too, if you’re techy.


I do something very similar on my card:
Fairway hit (or at least close/playable)
Easy to jot down while writing down the score…then I go through each round after and tally up where my weak spots were each round.

One last thing I forgot…I usually add the club I hit as well next to each (except putts) - to see if there are patterns with certain clubs I may struggle or perform better with.


I have had a similar journey. After a several decades hiatus I came back in 2017 with a vengeance. I try to practice each week and play at least 9 holes per week. But I have managed to go from a 25 handicap to 23. My skill level is improving but my scores still remain relatively the same. So it is frustrating indeed. No interest in competing with anyone but myself and the course. But my love and passion for the game has never been stronger. I watch golf on TV, talk about and read about golf daily and play as often as possible. Turning 64 in a few weeks, but a few years before retirement. So I guess I’ll have to wait a while before I can begin playing more frequently.