15 Handicappers are usually the guys shooting anywhere from 85 to 95 and have a tough time breaking 80 if they ever do. I have played with a lot of these guys over the years, and these are 15 things I have seen that level of player has made while playing with me. You may be a 15 handicap and not make these mistakes, but this is something I have seen, and if you are making these mistakes, they are holding you back from shooting better scores.
1: Not buying a CTRL Swing Master
The first mistake 15 handicappers make is not purchasing the CTRL Swing Master training aid to become a better, more consistent golfer. The CTRL Swing Master is custom-tailored to fit your ideal swing. It is built to help you become a more consistent golfer by helping you master your best swing. The CTRL Swing Master training aid will help you shoot much better scores. Help yourself and buy one as soon as possible and work on your game. Invest in being a better golfer. You can't be mad at shooting high scores if you don't. Golf is a game that you have to work into, no matter how talented you are. If you aren't out working on your game, you have no right to be mad when you hit a terrible shot or shoot a bad number.
2: Aiming for the pin
This is a mistake that many players make, not just 15 handicappers. It is something that a lot of golfers could immediately cut strokes. Stop aiming for the pin, and you aren’t a professional. You just aren’t that good. Start aiming for the middle of the green. Seriously, next time you play, don’t go after a single pin. Just aim for the middle of the green. Forget the pin. I promise you will shoot a better score. Golf courses set up dummy pins for people to go for all the time. When you hit a shot dead at the pin and end up in an impossible spot, you lose strokes for no reason. Just aim for the middle of the green sure, you can get a little more aggressive if you have a wedge in your hand, but with an iron in your hand, there is very little reason to go for the green. Tiger Woods was the best lag putter on tour; he knew that, so he aimed for the middle of the greens. Hit on two-putt par, or make one for a birdie. He would birdie the par 5s, shoot 4 or 5 under and be in contention the next day. A great example of this was on hole 12 at Augusta when Tiger won the Masters last; he went for the middle of the green. His playing partners went for the pin and found the water. That patience won Tiger the Masters.
3: Always taking driver
It would help if you did not always take driver. If you take driver, stop it. Driver is the most fun club in the bag to hit, but it isn’t always the right club. There are some holes set up for you to take any other club than driver. I don’t like when a golf course peppers in spots that make me pull an iron off the tee, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t necessary. On short par 4s, if you can’t hit the green with the driver, consider pulling iron and playing position golf. Figure out yardage that you are the most comfortable with and the best from and lay up to that yardage. This is what the best players in the world do. You do not always need to take your driver. Take an iron out more often and play a bit further back. Doing this will help you stay out of trouble and help you make more pars!
4: Playing par 5’s over par
15 handicappers make the biggest mistakes when playing par 5’s over par. Your scoring holes are your scoring holes. It's the only hole where you can hit four bad shots and still make par. It is easy to correct a mistake and still make the par. Have you ever thought about taking four iron, seven iron, wedge into a par five green? Sure, you would make fewer birdies, but you would probably make fewer bogeys. It would help if you took a different mindset on par 5s vs. par 4s.
5: Don’t take 3 wood if you can’t make it to the Green
You need to understand your max distance with 3 wood. This isn’t, “Well, I careered it once and hit it that far.” No, you need to truly understand if you hit your 3 wood okay, how far will it go. If you have a 15 handicap and said over 250, you should sit down and look at it. Don’t let your ego get in the way of shooting a good score. Know how far you hit your clubs and if you can’t make it to the green, lay up to a spot that gives you the best chance. Know your favorite yardage and play to it.
6: Play your miss
This really is one I don’t understand. Get your game to the point that you only have a one-way miss. Once that is done, PLAY THAT MISS! I know that my miss is a blocked shot that stays out to the right. So I am down the left side of the fairway. I aim to the left of the pin. If I hit a great shot, I’m in great shape, and if I miss, I’m in better shape. Figure out which way you tend to miss, and play that shot.
7: Don’t always go for the green
If you are in a bad spot on the course, can’t get to the green, or something is in your way, don’t go for the green. For instance, if you hit a tee shot into the trees, it is okay to punch out to the side and not try to hit the green. Sometimes you hit bad shots, and you need to take your medicine. Don’t always go for the green if the shot isn’t there. This is a mistake a ton of golfers make when they play. They hit an off shot, and instead of taking their medicine and punching out to the side, they try to hit a miracle shot and make birdie or par. Sometimes you have to take a bogey and not try for the green.
8: Give yourself a chance at par
This one is pretty simple. It ties in with the last one. You don’t always need to hit the miracle shot to save par. Sometimes it's enough to give yourself a chance at par. You could drain a 12-footer or a 20-footer for par. However, if you try to hit the miracle shot, say out of the bunker, and you leave yourself in the bunker, well, now you have to hit it out and try to make a 12-footer anyways. Always give yourself a chance at par and secure the bogey.
9: Follow the rules of the bunker
People take bunkers the wrong way. Once you understand how to hit a sand shot, a bunker can be your best friend. I get up and down out of the bunker as often as more often than around the greens. To get good at bunkers, I follow the bunker rules. Let me explain.
So If you can’t guarantee that you get it out of the bunker, go out sideways. If you can’t ensure you get it on the green, you don’t go for the pin. You only try to knock it close to the pin if you can get it out of the bunker and on the green. Otherwise, take it out sideways, ensure you have a chance at par, and make a bogey. The most important thing is you cannot stay in the bunker.
10: Missing short putts
Another huge mistake 15 handicappers make is missing the short putts. You cannot miss three and four-foot putts if you want to shoot lower scores. You just can’t. There is no easy way to fix this problem, and you must go grind it out on a practice green. Practice your short putts and get confident enough in yourself to make them every single time.
11: Buying new clubs to fix a problem
Come on. If you are this guy/girl, please don’t be. New clubs are fun, and there are certainly times to buy new clubs, but they are never a fix for your game. Stop buying a new putter to fix your putting woes. Go practice. Never buy a new club to fix a problem with your game. You will still have the same issues but with less cash in your pocket. Take a lesson or purchase a CTRL Swing Master instead and fix those problems!
12: Taking Golf Too Seriously
Sometimes golfers of all skill levels and handicaps take the game too seriously. Keep in mind that it is a game. You do it because you enjoy it. Please don’t get so serious about it that you stop enjoying playing golf. It is pretty simple when you are too focused on getting better, stop having fun, put too much pressure on yourself, and blow up.
13: Carrying your last shot with you
This one goes with the last one, and we are all guilty of carrying that previous lousy shot or hole with you to the next shot. You just can’t do that. You can’t lose confidence or let a bad shot get into your head. You just have to move on to the next shot and keep playing. Ignore what you’ve done in the past, what you may do in the future, and stay in the present when you are on the golf course.
14: Bogeys are okay
It is pretty simple, don’t be afraid to make a bogey. Bogeys are not bad if you are trying to break 90 every time you play. You can make plenty of them and still break 90. So play like it. A bogey is just one over par. What you can’t do is try to hit a miracle shot and miss and end up with a double or even worse.
15: 3 Putts
If you want to get better at golf, you must avoid the biggest mistake: three-putting. Any time you three-putt, you lose a stroke. This one is pretty simple; you cannot make it if you want to go low. They kill your confidence and take away all momentum of hitting any good shots. Not only that, but it puts pressure on the rest of your game to perform better to avoid the three-putt. Don’t put that extra pressure on your approach game to hit the perfect shot every time. Learn how to lag putt, then when you put it anywhere on the green in regulation, it's a guaranteed par.
You may be a 15 handicap player, and you may not do any of these, you may not recognize yourself making some of these mistakes, or you may do all of these things and realize you can stop and shoot better scores immediately. I can promise you that you will cut your scores way down if you stop making these mistakes.