golf handicap

Golf Fundamentals – How to develop good swing tempo

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We have all seen it, and some of us do it on a regular basis. We stand over the ball, take the club back nice and smooth, and then lunge at the ball in a blur, only to see the ball scuffed a few yards down the fairway.

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In this post we are going to discuss one of golf’s often overlooked fundamentals, swing tempo and give you a better understanding of tempo, and a drill that you can take on the course with you.

So what do we mean when we say a good swing tempo? A good swing tempo allows you time to fully complete your backswing and transition into the downswing without casting the club head at the ball. It means that your hips, shoulders and arms are all working in harmony to return the club head back to the ball. It should feel relaxed, and approximately eighty percent of your effort for a full shot. Also your swing tempo should be the same for every club in your bag you should not be thinking that your swing tempo increases with your longer clubs. However, good swing tempo does not mean slow. Many professional golfers have a quick tempo, that’s just their swing. Look at great players like Nick Price or Jose Maria Olazabal as examples. They both have great swing tempo and a faster than usual swing.  It is important for you to find the correct swing tempo for your game. One that is repeatable and brings consistent results.

Many golfers have a swing thought when they play the game. This includes a saying or phrase to help them with their tempo. One that we have used at Golf Talk is simply saying the words out loud ‘back and through’. ‘Back’ being the start of the backswing, ‘and’ being the transition, and ‘through’ the downswing. Try this out on the practice tee and see if it helps your ball striking. It may also help you out on the course saying it in your head.

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The Golf Talk team

 

How to score a stableford round of golf

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If you are going to start playing competitive golf then you will very soon use the Stableford scoring system as a way of marking your scorecard. In this post we will talk you through how to complete your scorecard and what strategies you could be using to play your best golf.

A very common way of scoring a competitive round of golf is the Stableford system. This type of scoring enables you to score points against the course’s par. For example if you are playing a par four hole then the course has already scored a par four. Your challenge is to beat that score, for which you will be awarded points as follows …

Double Eagle    5 points
Eagle                  4 points
Birdie                 3 points
Par                      2 points
Bogey                 1 point
Double Bogey   0 points

Of course this is you nett score allowing for your handicap. So let’s assume you are an eighteen handicapper. This means you will get a shot on each hole to give you your nett score. A par four on the scorecard will in fact be a par 5 for you. Now let’s also assume that you are playing a par four. If you were to achieve a gross score of five on this hole. This would be a nett score of par and two points for you. So if you play to your eighteen handicap and score a gross score of ninety and a nett score of seventy two you will achieve two points per hole and a total of thirty six points.

Now lets look at how you can best use this information to formulate your strategy to play your best golf.

How the stableford game differs from your standard medal play is that t
his form of the game rewards risk. By that we mean, if you decide to go for a shot that would result in a possible birdie (nett eagle) then you will score four points. However, if the shot does not go according to plan and you score a bogey (nett double bogey) then you will lose only two points that could be made up else where. This is very different to medal play where you would play the course much more conservative trying not to put a large number on your scorecard. So with Stableford we would encourage you to look at the scorecard and plan out where you will play safe and accept two points and where you will try the riskier shots and go for nett birdies and more points.

Also if you are playing off a higher than eighteen handicap then this obviously means that on some of the lower stroke index holes you will get more than one shot. Now the golf holes with the lower stroke index means that they play more difficult so you may need to plan how you will use the extra shot. This could be an iron off the tee for safety, or a lay up second shot to avoid a hazard for example. Either way please ensure that you know what shots you get on what holes because this should have an impact on how you play each hole.

Finally look at your score in three hole increments and see how you are progressing against your target score. If you have scored six points over the first three holes then you are playing steady and to handicap. If you are scoring higher or lower than this you may want to start thinking about where you will pick up points and potentially where you may lose a few points. The impact of counting your points over an average of three holes is that it prevents you from making any rushed decisions after just one bad hole. You will start to see patterns and make the correct choices of what shots to play. Or whether to play more aggressive or more defensive.

So next time you have an opportunity to play a Stableford game use these tips to help you out on the course and have fun!

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The Golf Talk team

How to mark a golf scorecard for your Monthly Medal or Stableford competition

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When you arrive at the golf course you will get your golf gear ready, put on your shoes and then head into the Pro shop. This is where you will sign in, pay for your round and be given a scorecard.

If you are new to golf then you may be wondering how to score your golf gameGolf scorecard for the different types of competitions. In this post we will discuss how to complete a golf scorecard for a monthly medal and a stableford competition. This will not only give you a better understanding of the types of games but also how to score well out on the course.

Lets start with the scorecard itself. On your scorecard you will see the hole number from 1 to 18. This is obviously the holes you will play throughout your round. Just a note of caution. Many golf courses have more than eighteen holes on them. So check which two loops of nine holes you are playing and ensure you are marking the correct ones.

Next to the hole number will be the tees. These are usually blue, white, yellow and red. The blue tees are usually for tournament play by the professional golfers often seen at championship courses. The white tees are usually mens local competition tees, the monthly medal for example. The yellow tees are usually for mens general play and the red tees are for lady and junior golfers. Each tee will have the distance from the tee box to the centre of the green and the par for the hole. You will be told in the pro shop which tees you are playing off on the day. If in doubt, for a general rounds men use yellow tees and for competitions use white. Ladies and juniors are always off the reds.

The par for the hole is the number of shots that you should complete the hole. For example a par 3 hole should be completed in 3 shots, a par 4 in 4 shots and a par 5 in 5 shots.

Next you will see the stroke index or handicap for the hole. The course staff have decided which of the holes is the most difficult to play and which is the easiest. With stroke index 1 being the most difficult hole and stroke index 18 being the easiest hole to achieve par. The stroke index of the course is regularly checked against competition scores to ensure that this remains consistent.

Finally you will see places to write in scores, totals and the players name and handicap. It is your responsibility to ensure that your card is completed correctly. There are many sad stories of golf professionals handing in scorecards only to find that their playing partner has made a mistake and they have been disqualified. Don’t let this happen to you. Check your scorecard to ensure it is correct.

As you may have gathered by now your playing partner marks your card and you will mark theirs. Just before you all tee off swap your card ensuring that you have completed your name and handicap. You will then confirm your scores to each other at the end of each hole for you to record on the scorecard.

Now we know what all the numbers mean lets look at the different scoring games starting with medal play. This is the easiest game to score because you are just writing in your total strokes for the hole and your playing partners total strokes for the hole. When you have completed all 18 holes then simply add them up and deduct their handicap. For example if your playing partner shoots a total score of  90 and they play off an eighteen handicap then you would record a nett score of 72. This is considered the toughest game in golf because you have to return a score for each and every hole. Which means one bad hole where you lose a couple of balls could be a ‘card wrecker’ which could ruin your day.

The next game we will look at is stableford. This game scores each hole against the par for the hole. The easiest way to think about this is that you are playing the course and the course has already scored. If you score better than the hole, the same, or worse there are different points awarded. For example if you score a nett birdie then you get 3 points, a net par is 2 points and a net bogey is 1 point. Lets say I am an 18 handicapper which means I get a shot on each hole, and on the first hole I get a par. Because I get a shot for my handicap this is a net birdie and 3 points. On the next hole I get a bogey (one over par) again because I am an 18 handicapper I get a shot on each hole so this for me is a nett par which would be 2 points. At the end of the game add up all the points to see the final score. A score of 36 means you have played to your handicap. For beginner golfers this is a much easier game to play and we recommend that when you start scoring your rounds then use this stableford method. This is because you will definitely lose a ball or two per round and with this type of game you simply do not record a score for that hole. You can then clear your mind and concentrate on playing a good shot on the next hole.

Finally we did mention at the beginning of this post that understanding the scorecard can help you score well on the course. When you are new to golf and want to get your first handicap you will be asked to score three rounds of golf with an existing member who will mark your card. Usually when you first start playing your handicap will be over 18. This means that you will have more than 1 shot per hole. In these situations play the hole and use all of your shots. By that we mean if you are on the most difficult hole on the course, lets say a par 4, and you have two shots. Then you can play 4 shots easy shots to get to the green and then 2 putts for your nett par. Instead of reaching for the driver and slicing your tee shot out of bounds and finishing the hole with a 10 on the card and no score. Remember golf is as much about playing the game strategically as it is about the technicality of ball striking.

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The Golf Talk team

5 easy steps to lower your handicap before you get on the course

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Can you lower your handicap before you even get on the course? Yes of course you can with these five simple steps to help prepare you for your game ahead.

  1. Get yourself in the right frame of mind, remove any distractions you may be thinking of for example work or to do lists from home. If you are feeling distracted then don’t be surprised if you do not play your very best golf. Try to keep focused on your game ahead.
  2. Get into a routine of arriving at the course early. Give yourself plenty of time to get ready for your game. My own routine is to get to the course at least 60 minutes before my tee off time. This gives me plenty of time to get set up, check in at the clubhouse and go to the practice range to hit a few balls.
  3. Go to the practice range. Don’t expect to hit one of your very best drives straight down the middle of the fairway when the last time you hit a ball was over a week ago. Hit a few balls with a PW, 7 Iron and 4 Iron, 3 wood and Driver. Aim to finish your practice with the club that you will hit your first tee shot. Don’t leave the range until you have hit a shot that you are happy with to give you confidence.
  4. Go to the putting green. For the same reasons as in point number 3. Sinking a few putts before your round will not only give you confidence but also help you get the speed of the greens. A few putts from long, medium and short distance should do.
  5. Finally have a score in mind that you want to shoot. We play more seriously when we are keeping score. Think about it how do you know what a good round is unless you have a target score that you are trying to achieve?

Follow these simple 5 step and have fun on the course!

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