You have tried everything. Diligent practice, advice from friends, videos, books has not helped. Your handicap is engraved in stone. The problem could be a scope issue. We all have a tendency to get stuck on a few trees and miss the forest. The more our emotions enter the equation, the stronger that tendency becomes. So here is some good news. Let’s back up and take a different approach. What have you got to lose?
Practice Makes Perfect?
Do you set your sights on a task and practice something repeatedly? For example, you go to the practice range and hit a bunch of shots with a particular club. You toil away with an iron until you start hitting some clean shots.
The problem is that our brains grow unreceptive to perceived endless repetition. Our brains need some change to remain fully engaged. A better approach is to mix up the practice. Take your shots with different clubs such as an iron, then a wedge, and next a driver. Mixing it up forces the brain to keep reconstructing each swing schematic. The more it keeps reconstructing, the more active it is. This promotes optimal long-term learning. The next time you practice, try bringing a variety of clubs. Mix it up and see if your results improve.
Are You an Athletic Specimen?
Ok, you don’t need to be a specimen. However, you do want to consider your physique. Think about where you generate your swing power. You may think it comes from your arms and shoulders. In fact, your core area is what drives the golf ball. These are the muscles from your navel to your neck. There is a variety of good books on exercising this critical muscle group. Two recommendations are Delavier’s Core Training Anatomy and Ageless Strength.
The shoulder muscles may not top the list but they do come in second to the core group. The rotator cuff is a blend of four deep muscles in the shoulder. These muscles support bigger more dominant shoulder muscles that support a swing. This will be particularly evident in club speed. Get yourself a set of bands and small dumbbells. Four good exercises for rotator cuff muscles are side-lying external rotations, high-to-low rows, reverse flys, and lawn mower pulls.
Can I Join the 4% With a Single Digit Handicap?
The odds are not great but lets face it. No one is born in the single digits yet some get there. Consistency is one big factor. Make golf a consistent part of your life. Try to play at least twice a week. Focus on course management, putting, and your short game (chipping and pitching). The experience you rack up, the better you will see exactly what each club will do. Experiment with fades and draws.
Finally practice your putting. This is a high priority due to the amount of shots that are often lost in this area. Practice with a small number of balls from hole to hole. Set your holes up at least ten feet apart to develop your long-range accuracy. Keep your emotions in check and stay calm during frustrating practice periods. Visualize the exact distance from the ball to the hole. Watch the ball travel along that line until it drops in the hole. Try to end a practice session with the ball in the hole. For a good read about this topic, take a look at The Art and Science of Putting.