golf practice tips

Journey to Scratch Golf: Stats, Tendencies, and Rating Current Skill Levels

Yo, what’s going on? Have you made it out to play your first round of the new year yet? I got in my first 9 hole round of the season today where I’m taking it serious tracking stats and all. A few weeks back on spring break I played a round in Florida for fun but besides that I’ve had no golf practice and no warm up to get ready for this season.

I wanted to see what my skills are currently in their purest form and today told me a lot. You’ll see below how I rate my current skills out of 10.

Before I dive into the results, let’s recap what’s happened so far for those of you who are new and joining this series for the first time.

In the first few articles of these series we’ve covered:

Today’s article relates to lesson 02 with establishing a starting handicap. Over the next few days I’ll be playing rounds of golf without any practice so I can establish my starting handicap as well as FIR %, GIR %, Scrambling, Putts, and other statistics that I’ll compare to in future months from now in order to see where I’ve improved most.

Then the month of April I’ll be practicing 3-4 days per week following the Breaking 70 Golf Practice Plan we built for those trying to achieve scratch golf. I’ve got the worksheets and packet all printed out and ready to begin tracking my performance at practices. Learn more about the different practice plans for different handicap levels.

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Scratch Golf Progress Update: Round 1

I’ll warn you right away…it wasn’t pretty today. I used to be a scratch golfer in high school and even the first few years of college as I played for the top 5 ranked club team at Ohio State.

Then these past two years I’ve hardly played golf at all, letting my skills digress and putting my focus into building this blog into what it’s become today. We’ve been able to help thousands of readers learn the basics of the game as well as the practice drills and time it takes to achieve low golf scores.

This season, I wanted to redo the journey to scratch so I can go through the same issues many of you face and understand the game again on a different level than when I had the skills.

I think you’ll be glad I let my skills worsen, because now it brings new content to the blog and case studies showing you what works and what doesn’t. You’re getting a unique view of the game of golf and how someone can move from scoring in the 80’s to scratch golf in one golf season by following my live, detailed journey as it happens.

It’s similar to how Tim Sykes achieved 1.23 million in trading profits from stocks back in his college days and now he started a challenge where he tries to recreate his success by trading along side his students to give them confidence and understand what they’re facing on their level. I’ll be able to share my progress and show you what it takes to become a scratch golfer.

Also, grab my golf skills assessment challenge and see how good your golf skills are in different areas of the game: Driving, Iron Play, Chipping, Putting, etc.

Statistics from Today’s 9 Holes & What I Learned

When you play a round of golf, don’t just track your score, but also track fairways hit, greens hit, putts, scrambling, and even more detailed stats like how many topped shots you had, or bladed shots. You’ll see below what I do.

  • 9 Hole Score – 48 (+12 over par)
  • Fairways in Regulation – 1/7
  • Greens in Regulation – 0/9
  • Scrambling – 1/6
  • Putts – 17

Okay, starting with the basic stats here, I ended up +12 over par today for my first round of the year. Here is the hole by hole break down:

  • Hole 1 (Par 5) – double bogey (5 shots to get onto green, 2 putts)
  • Hole 2 (Par 3) – bogey (failed up and down, 2 putts)
  • Hole 3 (Par 4) – triple bogey (5 shots to get onto green, 2 putts)
  • Hole 4 (Par 4) – bogey (failed up and down, 2 putts)
  • Hole 5 (Par 4) – double bogey (4 shots to get onto green, 2 putts)
  • Hole 6 (Par 4) – bogey (failed up and down, 2 putts)
  • Hole 7 (Par 5) – par (up and down successful, 1 putt)
  • Hole 8 (Par 3) – bogey (failed up and down, 2 putts)
  • Hole 9 (Par 4) – bogey (failed up and down, 2 putts)

In addition to tracking the basic stats, I also analyzed my game in more detail. Here are several issues I faced on the golf course that I’ll link to articles on the blog covering the fixes for these issues in case you face them as well.

Topping the Golf Ball

I topped the golf ball 7 different times! This is what results from not swinging a golf club all winter. The big issue I noticed was not taking a divot. I wasn’t doing a good job of hitting down on the ball today which was why many of my shots were low in addition to topped. Here is an article How to Stop Topping the Golf Ball that I’ll be reviewing and you should to if topping is a problem you’re facing in your golf game.

Ball striking I would rate a 3/10 right now. I’m not too confident in my ability to hit the ball until I get some range work in and start making solid contact with the ball again. Time to shake off the rust and get the swing in a groove again.

Lack of Distance Compared to Usual

Being the first round of the year, the muscles aren’t in top golf shape yet and the swing doesn’t feel habitual yet.

Today this was evident as many of my shots failed to go the distance I’m used to hitting. A lot of shots came up short which I quickly adjusted by taking more club for each shot I faced. This season, I’ll definitely be working to increase my club head speed so I can add distance to my golf game. I have a tendency to swing too easy where it harms my game.

Here is an article sharing tips on How to Add Distance to Your Irons

I would rate my club distance a 6/10 currently. If I can add 10 yards to each club this season and 20 yards to my driver then I’ll rate it 10/10. Until then, the highest I’ll rate club distance is an 8/10 which is when I get back to hitting my usual distances.

Follow this practice routine if you want to score lower than ever before on the golf course.

Hooking the Golf Ball Instead of Drawing It

Another issue I’ve got to work out with my golf swing is the dreaded hook. It’s back! I used to have my swing dialed in to produce a nice draw but over time it’s turned into a hook that I’ve gotten used to playing with. This season I’ll be video taping my swing as well as seeing the head PGA pro instructor at my course for lessons to fix this hook and get my draw back.

I would rate my swing control at this point a 2/10.

Poor Distance Control With Chip Shots

Many of my chips were coming up short today as I was bailing out on the follow through and decelerating into impact. I also had a few bladed chip shots which can weaken your mental toughness a bit after doing it a few times. It makes you more timid when you approach future chip shots wondering “is this going to happen again.”

Usually, I focus on striking when I start blading chip shots and it helps me stop. In other words, I watch my chip shot take a divot before looking up to see where the ball is going. Try keeping your head down and really focusing on contact with the ball/taking a divot the next time you have a bladed chip shot.

I would rate my chipping distance control a 4/10 and rate my chipping contact (ball striking) a 3/10.

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Fan Poll of the Day:

How would you rate the follow skills for your golf game currently as of today? Ball striking, swing control, chipping distance control, putting distance control?

My results were:

  • Ball Striking – 3/10
  • Swing Control – 4/10 (hook)
  • Chipping Distance Control – 4/10 (leaving chips short)
  • Putting Distance Control – 7/10 (pretty solid today)

Overall, day 1 is in the books and over the next few days I’ll play a few more rounds so I can see if there are any clear tendencies and repeat of what I saw today. I don’t expect to see much improvement until I hit the practice green and driving range at the start of April when I begin following the step by step Breaking 70 Golf Practice Plan.

I’m excited to compile some data from these first few rounds and get a baseline of where I stand. Data is important so make sure you are tracking your stats the next time you play golf!

Here are several golf practice plans we offer with lots of worksheets and bonuses that come with your program. Click the links to learn more about each training plan.

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