Handicap Improvements - Your story

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Backache

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Interesting thread.
Started playing around 1984 in my 20's but couldn't join a club till around 1990.
Before I got a handicap I got a job abroad and didn't play for nearly 10 years.

Came back and got a handicap of about 22 which I got down to around 18 fairly quickly.

Children and job meant I didn't really work at my game then and stuck around that level for quite a time.
I then partially retired followed by full retirement and had a bit more time for it. Don't hit it very far but have whittled my index to 12.6. I would like to get it a bit lower but as long as I'm enjoying the game is the main thing.
 

chrisd

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After being injured at football at 30, after a gap I took up tennis for about 10 years

Realised I was in a rut that every game I played I could predict who'd win and the score so decided to play golf instead

Played my first golf game Easter 1997 and never played tennis again. Got a handicap after about 5 weeks of 23

Got down to 9.9 at best but have always been a streaky player, I'd win club comps but struggled at times. I've played to par (gross) and also shot 30 over. I did win the club's first main comp of last year

Now at 71 I'm off a HI of 17.2 but after my 2 day coaching in October am hitting pretty well and reckon I could get a decent cut in late spring of If I keep striking it like they showed me.
 

fenwayrich

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Started playing on Woodthorpe Park Pitch & Putt Course in Nottingham (which is still there despite the Council being bankrupt) around 1969. Joined my current club as a junior with my mate in 1971. When they finally allowed us on the proper course I was given 24 (highest allowed at the time). By the time I went to University in 1976 I was off 5, which is my lowest ever. I drifted back up to around 9 over the next ten years, a combination of less time to play and a condition called Ankylosing Spondylitis. This became more painful and by the early 1990's I had packed in, although I still followed the game, both on TV and going to tourrnaments in the UK. Didn't hit a ball for 20 years.

In 2013 I had partially retired, gained a lot of weight, and become a couch potato. A good friend lent me a few spare clubs and persuaded me to go to the local range and hit a few balls, just to see if the fire could be reignited. To cut a long story short, it was, and 6 months later I rejoined my first (and only) club. Initial handicap was 12, very briefly touched 7, even won a National Pro-Am (Super 60's) with my professional friend. My health, and my game, has since declined (myelopathy). I am currently off 16.4 and have hardly played since October 2022. I would like to get back on the course, even if it's 9 holes off the reds in a buggy, but we shall see.
 

Mel Smooth

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May as well add the youths, started playing at 3 - first time on a course with proper balls and clubs was Bradley Park 9 hole - more of a pitch and putt in reality.
Prior to us moving to Spain he played the majority of his golf growing up on the 9 hole course at Willow Valley - which does have USGA standard greens, so a nice little gateway to golf for him.
Didn't get a handicap until he joined the academy at La Finca in Spain, where the pro there (Victor) took him under his wing a little - entered a few comps, won a couple and got his handicap down to low 20's.
Came back here in 2022, submitted a few cards around the Championshp Course at Willow Valley to get a 26.7 handicap index, got it down a little then joined Dewsbury District around March last year, where there are more scoring opportunities for him, this has helped get his handicap down to 13. He's wanting to play in a few of the knockout comps this year with the blokes, along with all the junior comps and team events he's in, which will hopefully keep the momentum going he built through last summer.
 

RichA

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I also played my first golf at Woodthorpe Park pitch and putt in Nottingham, but in the early 80s.
A few years later, I was given a set of hand me down Max Faulkner Avenger blades by my uncle that he'd had fitted for him. He was about 5'4". By the age of 15, I was 6'2"(🤦‍♂️).

Although I never played seriously as a young adult, I played occasionally using those midget blades until my mid-30s, with a social group at work. I don't think we ever even kept score properly.
I traded the blades for a set of soulless and fugly Howson OS irons and started playing a little more often, but still infrequently. Having always been a decent sportsman, I became increasingly frustrated that I wasn't a natural at golf and gave the clubs away in about 2010.

After 10 years of cricket, football and cycling, COVID arrived. Cricket and football stopped. I came off my road bike going through a ford during the drought of spring 2020 (🤦‍♂️) and broke a bone in my hand, so the cycling stopped too.
Looking for a sporty hobby and golf being the only thing still going on in April 2020, I ordered a set of Ping Eye 2 irons from eBay to give golf a more serious go once the cast came off.
The clubs arrived, the cast came off, golf was banned (🤦‍♂️).

Eventually I got a few solo rounds in, joined a cheap, friendly local club and got my first handicap of 30 in spring 2021. I won a few comps while getting the handicap down to 16 by the end of the summer and 15 by christmas.
At this point I decided that I was a playa and started to show what I was really capable of. By midsummer I'd hit my cap and was back up to 20 (🤦‍♂️).

Mid-2022 I had an epiphany and realised that maybe golf was supposed to be enjoyable. I reduced the number of comps I entered, stopped submitting GP rounds and concentrated on fun-time golf with pals.

For the last year I've mostly just played for 💩💩 and giggles. Social rounds aren't scored but used for experimentation, hero shots and making memories with good friends.
I play the occasional singles comp and those have got my handicap back down to 15, which is probably about right. I may have the ability to go slightly lower but I don't have the attention span to take it seriously enough.

Great thread. That was strangely cathartic.
 

RedEyes

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I started playing at the age of 14 in 1991 inspired by Woosie winning The Masters.
I taught myself using Nick Faldo's Golf Course video.
My first 9 holes on a proper course I scored 72 at Castell Heights near Cardiff.
I joined a club in 1993 and my first handicap was 17.1.
I first broke 80 at Breen GC with a 78 which included 3 back to back birdies. After that I'd regularly shoot in the 70's but my lowest handicap was 9.4, lowest round was a 72 which won me best Nett and Gross in the August 1994 Monthly medal, the day before my 18th birthday. At the time I'd regular play 36 to 54 holes a day and was playing a lot lower than my official handicap in casual rounds.
I won a few big Board competitions and had aspirations to get down to 4 to try and become a PGA Pro but I broke my hand on New Years Day 97. I couldn't play for 6 months and when I came back I'd lost serious ground with the lads the same age as me and lost interest quickly. I then moved to Tenerife in 1998 and didn't play for 2 years.
I got back into it when I moved to Liverpool in 2000, played with a works Society and was given a 10 handicap, I'd regularly play to that and won a few times but would only play 5 to 10 times a year.
Then the kids came along and I played even less., I was then diagnosed with a bone tumour in 2018 and thought I'd never play again. I played in between operations and joined a club briefly in 2020 but had a recurrence so didn't renew, my handicap went up to 18 on Swing U which was to expected.
I've got back into big time the last 18 months and bought new irons this year after getting the all clear, tumour free for 3 years.
Started 2023 at 17.6 and ended at 14.6, this years target is to get back to 10. I'm not a member anywhere currently but may look into joining somewhere this year.
 
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rudebhoy

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Played football every week until my mid-30s when my kness packed in on me. Then family came along, and was also working loads of weekends so had no time for any sport. Never even considered taking up golf until I retired and realised I needed a hobby. Tried table tennis - bad on the kness, then snooker - bad on the liver. Was going to the gym most days, but knew I needed something else.

Started off with group lessons. First lot were at a local range. Group was too large (about 20), only got a couple of minutes every week with the pro, and was pretty frustrating. Then went to a local club which was offering free 'Get into Golf' group lessons. Much smaller group and the pro was great with beginners. Eventually joined the club. Was shooting 100-110, put my cards in, and was shocked to get a handicap of 23. For the next couple of years I played social games only with fellow beginners and didn't get much better.

Then I discovered the senior section, and joined a roll-up. Best thing I ever did. Was nervous at first, but playing with better players who were tolerant and happy to give advice helped enormously and I slowly improved. Started playing in comps 3 times a week, did OK and got down to 16.8.

Suffered a lot with various injuries and ailments over the last year and have gone back up to 18.8, but am really enjoying the golf and the social side.

My biggest regret is not taking the game up until the age of 55. If I had known how enjoyable it was, I would have done do in my 20s, and I might have been half-decent at it by now!
 

harpo_72

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1995 start 23-24 handicap
1997 handicap 3.2
Work for 12 years no official handicap
Joined Langley park, handicap can’t remember
Then Ellesborough given a handicap of 12, i think. But won a few big things got cut to 5 before having to leave for work. I was on a roll there shooting low scores.
Then joined a course which I am currently at, index is 9.8 never played a great round never got into a rhythm.. work and family take priority
 

Wabinez

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Started in 2009, after going up to the locla club to use the short game area with a mate who was a member. Got hooked a bit and dove in. Joined the club and was given a handicap of 28, and I couldn't break 100. My first club champs, I shot 128-130 on the same day...was a bit tiring.

Took me until 2011 to really see some movement...coming down from 28-21, and then in 2012 I went from 21-10. Slowly edged closer down, and current index is 4.1, having been as low as 0.8 a couple of years ago. Had many, many lessons and brain got fogged, so gave them up for a bit to go my own way. Just starting to get back on the horse, and have paid for 6 lessons with a nearby pro to see if I can improve/be more consistent.

Local range to me closed 18 months or so ago, so practice is pretty much out the window, which is a shame...especially in the winter. I don't fancy driving 45 mins each way to a range to hit some balls for a bit. When it was 15 mins away, it was an easy decision.
 

Orikoru

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Started in 2009, after going up to the locla club to use the short game area with a mate who was a member. Got hooked a bit and dove in. Joined the club and was given a handicap of 28, and I couldn't break 100. My first club champs, I shot 128-130 on the same day...was a bit tiring.

Took me until 2011 to really see some movement...coming down from 28-21, and then in 2012 I went from 21-10. Slowly edged closer down, and current index is 4.1, having been as low as 0.8 a couple of years ago. Had many, many lessons and brain got fogged, so gave them up for a bit to go my own way. Just starting to get back on the horse, and have paid for 6 lessons with a nearby pro to see if I can improve/be more consistent.

Local range to me closed 18 months or so ago, so practice is pretty much out the window, which is a shame...especially in the winter. I don't fancy driving 45 mins each way to a range to hit some balls for a bit. When it was 15 mins away, it was an easy decision.
This is one reason I never had lessons for years. I didn't want death by swing thoughts. Not a dig at your or anyone but I find it crazy when people book up 10 lessons and have them once a week or every two weeks or something - how can you bed in what you've learned? I've just had a lesson and I'd give myself at least two months to try and see the change from it before I think about booking another one.

Yeah, there was a driving range down the road from me that shut down 6 years ago or so. It had a short nine-hole course as well that I used to play when I was just getting back into playing. I wonder how much more I would have practised over the years if that had remained open. Especially in the last few years of home working - would have been so easy to pop down and hit a few balls on lunch breaks. But unfortunately the nearest ranges now are 20 minutes + drive away so can't really do it. That range is still sitting there derelict as well, the course completely overgrown, it makes me sad every time I drive past.
 

Wabinez

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This is one reason I never had lessons for years. I didn't want death by swing thoughts. Not a dig at your or anyone but I find it crazy when people book up 10 lessons and have them once a week or every two weeks or something - how can you bed in what you've learned?
I'm going with a one a month approach. I play enough, and can do a bit of practice at the club at weekends to try and bed things in. I never did the every week or two thing, as it would get hella expensive....but I also used to be bad at just running for a lesson when things weren't great rather than working through the pain a bit more.

Fingers crossed the new set of lessons seem me make the improvements I need to make to become better
 
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This is one reason I never had lessons for years. I didn't want death by swing thoughts. Not a dig at your or anyone but I find it crazy when people book up 10 lessons and have them once a week or every two weeks or something - how can you bed in what you've learned?
You go and hit balls on that practice area you never use 😅
 

SteveW86

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This is one reason I never had lessons for years. I didn't want death by swing thoughts. Not a dig at your or anyone but I find it crazy when people book up 10 lessons and have them once a week or every two weeks or something - how can you bed in what you've learned? I've just had a lesson and I'd give myself at least two months to try and see the change from it before I think about booking another one.

Yeah, there was a driving range down the road from me that shut down 6 years ago or so. It had a short nine-hole course as well that I used to play when I was just getting back into playing. I wonder how much more I would have practised over the years if that had remained open. Especially in the last few years of home working - would have been so easy to pop down and hit a few balls on lunch breaks. But unfortunately the nearest ranges now are 20 minutes + drive away so can't really do it. That range is still sitting there derelict as well, the course completely overgrown, it makes me sad every time I drive past.

Whenever I’ve had multiple lessons in a short space of time, it’s been to make sure I am doing the changes properly rather than introducing something new.
 

BiMGuy

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Whenever I’ve had multiple lessons in a short space of time, it’s been to make sure I am doing the changes properly rather than introducing something new.
Same. I embarked on a series of lessons to fix a fault.

The first was to make a grip adjustment in preparation. This I could work on on my own. It took a while to bed in and be comfortable.

The next couple of lessons were to work on a fix. Then I had 3 in short succession which were pretty much supervised practice to make sure I was embedding the change.

Seems to have worked ok. There are still many things I could change. Reality is, I don’t have the time to work on my swing other than trying to maintain what I changed over the last 2 years.
 

Orikoru

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Same. I embarked on a series of lessons to fix a fault.

The first was to make a grip adjustment in preparation. This I could work on on my own. It took a while to bed in and be comfortable.

The next couple of lessons were to work on a fix. Then I had 3 in short succession which were pretty much supervised practice to make sure I was embedding the change.

Seems to have worked ok. There are still many things I could change. Reality is, I don’t have the time to work on my swing other than trying to maintain what I changed over the last 2 years.
Just seems like a lot of money to me, another £50 here, £50 there just for the pro to take a look and go "yeah that looks fine".

Each to their own of course but I'd rather take time, see if results improve on the course, then if not go back to him and say it didn't work. 😀
 

BiMGuy

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Just seems like a lot of money to me, another £50 here, £50 there just for the pro to take a look and go "yeah that looks fine".

Each to their own of course but I'd rather take time, see if results improve on the course, then if not go back to him and say it didn't work. 😀
It is, but the cost all in for a set of 6 lessons was a third of the cost of a new Ping driver! A worthwhile investment to me.
 

CountLippe

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Started about 30 Years ago - first handicap 20 current index 7.1, went a bit higher at the start and been as low as 6.0. Its been a very slow gradual improvement over a long long time.
I've never had rapid progression, most I've ever come down by is 2 shots in a year and this was normally followed by going back up one. I've had a few lessons over the years (15 - 20), I found them good at identifying swing faults but there was always a good 6 month lag before I saw the benefit..

I still see room for improvement, I don't particualrly excel at anything just hit less bad shots than I used to.
 
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