Tips For High Handicap Golfers To Improve Their Score

If you're new to the world of golf or have been playing for a while but struggle to keep your scores low, you might fall into the category of a high handicap golfer. In golf terms, a "handicap" refers to a numerical measure of a golfer's potential ability based on past performances. It's a system designed to level the playing field, so golfers of varying skill levels can compete against each other.

Generally, a golfer with a handicap of around 20 or above is considered a high handicap golfer. If you're a male golfer, and you typically score over 100 for a round on a par 72 course, or if you're a female golfer and score over 108, you're considered a high handicapper. Keep in mind, this isn't a hard-and-fast rule, and the specifics can vary slightly depending on the golf association.

Being a high handicapper doesn't mean you lack talent or that you can't enjoy the game. On the contrary, it gives you a clear goal to aim for in terms of improvement. Golf is a journey, and even the best players continually work on their game. So, if you're a high handicap golfer, embrace the challenge and enjoy your path to becoming a better golfer.

Handicap Improvement Tips

Understand the Basics 

Understanding the basics of golf is absolutely essential for you as a high handicap player. These foundational elements form the building blocks of your game and directly influence your performance on the golf course. When you master the basics, you create a solid foundation from which you can build and improve your game.

guy teaching the basics of golf

Think about the core elements of golf; the grip, stance, swing, and etiquette. Each one plays a crucial role in your game. For instance, learning the correct grip can help you control the clubhead and hit straighter shots. A proper stance provides balance and stability, enabling you to swing the club with power and precision. Understanding the basic swing mechanics allows you to hit the ball consistently and accurately.

Moreover, knowing the rules and etiquette of golf ensures you respect the game and your fellow players. It helps you avoid penalties that could negatively affect your score and allows you to navigate challenging situations on the course with confidence.

As a high handicap player, taking the time to understand and practice these basics will significantly aid in reducing your handicap over time. Not only will it help you become a better golfer, but it will also enhance your enjoyment of this wonderful game. 

Remember, every professional golfer started with the basics. It's through understanding and perfecting these that you will start to see improvement and progress in your golfing journey.

Get Fitted 

If you are serious about improving your game, getting custom fitted for your golf clubs is a crucial step. Why is this important? Imagine trying to run a marathon in shoes that are too big or too small. It's the same with golf; using clubs that aren't suited to your swing can hinder your progress and make it difficult to lower your handicap.

When you get fitted for golf clubs, you're ensuring that your equipment matches your swing characteristics. Things like club length, clubhead style, shaft flex, and grip size are all tailored to your unique needs. These factors affect your ability to control the club, make solid contact, and deliver the clubface squarely at impact, all of which contribute to distance, accuracy, and consistency.

custom golf fitting

For instance, if your clubs are too long, it can lead to off-center hits and a lack of control. If the shaft flex isn't matched to your swing speed, it could affect the trajectory and direction of your shots. Getting fitted isn't just for low handicap players or professionals - it's for anyone who wants to play better golf, including you.

By investing in custom-fitted clubs, you're giving yourself the best opportunity to improve your game and lower your handicap. It's all about setting yourself up for success, and the right equipment is a key part of that equation. So consider club fitting as an investment in your golfing future - a step towards more enjoyable rounds and a steadily decreasing handicap.

Appreciate The Role Of Nutrition

In the pursuit of a better golf game, you might spend hours on the range, trying out new clubs, or analyzing every detail of your swing. However, one often-overlooked aspect that can significantly impact your performance on the course is nutrition. 

Quality nutrition before and during your game can provide the energy, focus, and endurance you need to lower your scores and improve your handicap.

golf essentials

Before you step onto the first tee, it's essential to fuel your body with a balanced meal. That means consuming complex carbohydrates, lean proteins, and healthy fats which provide sustained energy release throughout your round. 

Foods like whole grain toast with avocado, oatmeal with fruit, or a vegetable omelette are excellent choices. They prevent spikes and crashes in blood sugar levels, which can negatively affect concentration and energy.

When you're on the course, remember that a round of golf can last several hours, and it's not uncommon to walk several miles during a game. To maintain energy and focus, you need to stay hydrated and consume small, nutrient-dense snacks between holes. 

Whole In One Bars are perfect to keep you powered up, containing essential nutrients to maintain a high level of play.

Nuts, seeds, and dried fruits are portable, non-perishable, and packed with nutrients that support sustained energy release. Hydration is also crucial - water regulates your body temperature, lubricates your joints, and helps transport nutrients for energy.

Neglecting nutrition can lead to fatigue, loss of concentration, and even impaired motor control - all of which can add unwanted strokes to your scorecard. 

So, give your nutrition the same attention as you do your swing mechanics or equipment. By focusing on quality nutrition, you're not just fueling your body; you're fueling your potential to become a better golfer in the long run.

Improve Your Grip 

As you delve deeper into your golfing journey, one fundamental aspect you'll often hear about is the importance of the grip. You might think, "It's just holding the club, how complex can it be?" But the reality is, your grip is one of the most crucial elements in golf. It's the only point of contact you truly have with the club, and it plays a pivotal role in controlling the clubface, which in turn, impacts the direction and flight of your golf ball.

golf club grip

A weak or incorrect grip can lead to inconsistency, causing your shots to slice or hook dramatically. Conversely, a solid and technically correct grip facilitates better control, enabling you to swing more freely and confidently. It allows you to keep the clubface square at impact, promoting a straighter ball flight and leading to longer and more accurate drives.

Working on your grip might seem elementary, but like any foundation, its importance cannot be overstated. It's an ongoing process, a part of your golf game that you should continually check and refine. 

Remember, even small adjustments to your grip can make a significant difference in your shot's trajectory and distance. So, don't underestimate the value of a good grip - it's a key step on your path to improving your golf game.

Find Your Stance 

Your stance can have a profound impact on your score and could potentially help you lower your handicap. Imagine you're about to strike the ball. How you position your body can influence the flight of the ball, its direction, and distance significantly. A well-aligned, balanced stance can lay the foundation for a successful swing.

Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart to establish balance. Your body weight should be evenly distributed between your two feet, giving you a stable base. Too much weight on your toes can lead to instability, while too much on your heels can restrict your swing.

Next, consider your alignment. When you take your stance, your feet, hips, and shoulders should all be parallel to the target line. Misalignment can cause the ball to veer off course, leading to poorer scores. Regularly check your alignment during practice to ensure consistency.

Finally, the ball position in your stance is crucial. It changes depending on the club you're using and the shot you're attempting. Generally, the ball should be closer to your front foot for long shots and move toward the middle of your stance for shorter shots.

Upgrade Your Putting 

Mastering the art of putting can truly make a world of difference in your golf game. It's often said that "drive for show, putt for dough," which underlines the importance of this aspect of the game. If you're struggling with a high handicap, refining your putting skills can transform your scores like night and day.

In a round of golf, approximately 40-50% of your strokes are on the green, which underscores the significance of putting. If you can reduce the number of putts per round, your overall score will naturally decrease, and your handicap will improve.

man putting golf ball

From reading the greens to controlling the speed and direction of your putts, there are several skills involved that require both physical technique and mental strategy. The beauty of putting is that, unlike driving or long iron play, it doesn't depend on physical strength, but rather on precision, patience, and practice.

As for whether putting is the "big brother" of chipping, it's fair to say that they are two distinct but equally important aspects of the short game. While putting is all about finesse and precision on the green, chipping involves a different set of skills, such as judging distances and navigating obstacles around the green. However, both require a soft touch and a good understanding of the golf course.

Get Better At Chipping 

When you're striving to lower your golf handicap, one key skill that can save you numerous strokes is chipping. This seemingly simple shot can make a significant difference in your game. So, why is chipping so important?

Firstly, not every shot you make is going to land on the green. You'll inevitably find yourself just off the green, in a spot where a good chip can set you up for a one-putt or, if you're lucky, even chip in. This is where the power of chipping comes into play. By mastering your chipping technique, you can save precious strokes and consistently keep your scores lower.

A well-executed chip shot minimizes the time your ball spends in the air and maximizes the time it rolls on the green, just like a putt. This allows you to better control the distance and direction of the shot, leading to closer proximity to the hole. It's a safer and more reliable shot than trying to loft the ball high and land it softly.

Plus, effective chipping can bail you out of tricky situations, such as when you're stuck in the rough or a sand trap. It can help you recover and maintain your score, even when your tee shots or fairway shots aren't perfect.

Remember, chipping is about precision and control, not power. Spend time practicing your chip shots, and you'll see your scores start to drop, bringing your handicap along with it. Golf is a game of margins, and chipping is one area where you can gain a significant advantage.

Learn The Basics Of Course Management 

Understanding and applying basic course management techniques can be a game changer in improving your score and handicap. Course management is all about making smart decisions on the golf course, reducing risk, and playing to your strengths. It's not just about hitting the ball well, but also about thinking strategically and making wise choices.

For instance, consider the situation where you're standing on the tee of a par 4 with a hazard running down one side of the fairway. The aggressive play might be to try to carry the hazard, aiming for maximum distance. However, a course management approach would suggest playing safe, aiming away from the hazard, even if it means a longer second shot. This way, you're less likely to lose a ball and add strokes to your score.

Understanding the layout of each hole is also crucial. Knowing where the bunkers, water hazards, and out-of-bounds areas are can help you decide the best strategy for each shot. Similarly, paying attention to the pin position on the green can help you determine whether to be aggressive or conservative with your approach shot.

By focusing on course management, you can avoid unnecessary mistakes, reduce high-scoring holes, and ultimately lower your handicap.

Stay Physically Fit 

The simple truth of the matter is, staying fit can significantly improve your score and lower your handicap. Golf is a sport that requires strength, flexibility, balance, and endurance, all of which can be enhanced by regular physical exercise.

staying fit for golf

Building strength, particularly in your core and upper body, can contribute to a more powerful swing, potentially increasing your drive distance. When you are strong, you can control your golf club better, leading to improved accuracy and consistency in your shots.

Secondly, flexibility allows for a fuller range of motion in your swing. It can help you to achieve a smoother and more efficient swing, reducing the risk of injury. With a fluid swing, you're more likely to hit the ball straight and far.

Balance is also a key factor in golf. Exercises that improve your balance can help you maintain stability during your swing, leading to more accurate shots.

Lastly, let’s not forget how endurance training can help you stay fresh toward the end of a round. Golf can be a lengthy game, and fatigue can affect your performance. With better stamina, you're less likely to make errors due to tiredness.

Develop Your Very Own Pre-Shot Routine 

Establishing a consistent pre-shot routine is an essential aspect of improving your golf game. The routine serves as a kind of mental and physical roadmap that can help you navigate the complexities of each shot. 

By adhering to a pre-shot routine, you create a sense of consistency and familiarity that can significantly reduce the impact of external pressures and distractions, thus potentially improving your score and reducing your handicap.

Firstly, a pre-shot routine helps you to focus. When you step up to the ball, there can be many distractions, from the wind and the lie of the ball to the hazards on the course (gators in Fl) and the pressure of the game. By engaging in a pre-shot routine, you give your mind a task to focus on, pushing away these potential distractions and allowing you to concentrate on the shot at hand.

Secondly, a pre-shot routine can help to instill confidence. Consistency breeds confidence, and by repeating the same process over and over before each shot, you are reminding yourself that you have prepared for this moment, that you have hit good shots before, and that you can do it again. This increase in confidence can directly translate into better performance on the course.

Moreover, a pre-shot routine aids in creating consistency in your swing. The routine acts as a kind of 'trigger' for your body, signaling that it's time to engage in the precise series of movements that make up your swing. By starting your swing the same way each time, you're more likely to produce a consistent swing, leading to more predictable and accurate shots.

But let’s not forget that a pre-shot routine can help manage stress and anxiety. Golf can be a nerve-wracking game, especially in competitive situations. A pre-shot routine provides a calming, familiar process that you can rely on when nerves kick in. By focusing on the routine, you can keep anxiety at bay, helping you to perform under pressure.

Understand Club Selection 

When you step onto the golf course, the clubs you carry in your bag can have a significant impact on your game. That’s why understanding the importance of correct club selection is crucial to improving your score and lowering your handicap.

Each club in your bag serves a unique purpose, designed to optimize performance over a specific distance or in a specific situation. For instance, a driver is best for long distances off the tee, while an iron might be more suitable for shorter, more accurate shots toward the green.

golf club selection

Using the right club at the right time can drastically improve your chances of landing the ball closer to your target, thus reducing the number of strokes you take on each hole.

Your skill level also plays a crucial role in club selection. As a beginner or high-handicap golfer, using clubs designed for advanced players may lead to frustration and poor performance. Instead, select clubs that match your skill level and swing speed. For instance, high-handicap golfers often benefit from clubs with larger sweet spots and more loft, which can improve consistency and distance.

Furthermore, it's worth considering a custom club fitting as mentioned above. Clubs tailored to your height, swing speed, and other individual characteristics can significantly enhance your performance. Custom-fitted clubs can provide a better grip, optimal shaft flex, and appropriate club length, all of which can contribute to more accurate and consistent shots.

Don’t Shy Away From Golf Technology

You might be contemplating how staying abreast of the latest golf technology could aid in improving your golf score and handicap. Indeed, the pace of golf technology advancements is relentless and can have a substantial impact on your game.


Take golf clubs as a starting point. Each new generation of clubs is engineered with cutting-edge technology to enhance performance. The goal of these manufacturers is to produce clubs that provide greater forgiveness for off-center hits, added distance, and superior accuracy. By adopting these new clubs, you could capitalize on these technological improvements, turning your mis-hits into decent shots, and your great shots into exceptional ones.

The realm of golf technology also encompasses high-tech training aids and performance-tracking systems, such as golf rangefinders, VR simulators, and GPS devices. These tools can provide accurate distance measurements to the green or hazards, helping you make better-informed decisions about club selection and strategy. 

Moreover, modern swing analyzers can offer you a wealth of data about your swing, including swing speed, path, and angle of attack, enabling you to spot flaws and hone specific improvement areas.

Play Under Different Conditions 

Playing golf isn't simply about mastering a single course, or being a “single weather” specialist. If you're aiming to lower your handicap and improve your overall golf game, it's incredibly beneficial to diversify your experiences by playing on a variety of courses and under different conditions.

When you play on different golf courses, you challenge yourself to adapt to a variety of layouts and hazards. Some courses may have more water hazards, while others might be known for their narrow fairways or tricky greens. Each course will require a different set of strategies and skills. Learning to navigate these challenges can improve your decision-making abilities, shot selection, and versatility, which are vital for lowering your scores and your handicap.

What’s more, playing in varied conditions can significantly enhance your skills. If you're used to playing in calm, sunny weather, try playing when it's windy or even lightly raining. Dealing with the wind can teach you about the importance of shot trajectory and club selection while playing in the rain can provide lessons about grip and stance adjustments. You'll learn how different weather conditions affect the ball's flight and the course's playability.

Different courses also have different types of grass and ground conditions which can affect how the ball behaves on the fairway and the green. Getting used to putting on fast greens versus slow greens, or hitting from a fluffy lie versus a tight lie, can enhance your adaptability and overall understanding of the game.

Playing on various courses and in different conditions doesn't just make you a more versatile golfer, it also forces you to become a student of the game. And remember, every challenge is an opportunity to learn and grow, ultimately helping you to lower your scores and your handicap.

Tee the Ball at the Right Height 

When you step up to tee off in golf, you might not give much thought to the height at which you've teed your ball. However, understanding and implementing the correct tee height can significantly influence your score and handicap. So, let's delve into why teeing the ball at the right height is crucial to improving your game.

Firstly, when the ball is teed up too low, it can cause you to hit the ground before making contact with the ball, often resulting in a loss of distance and accuracy. This situation is commonly referred to as a "topped" or "thin" shot. These mishits can quickly inflate your score and raise your handicap.

golf tee

Conversely, if you tee the ball too high, you may strike the ball too high on the clubface. This can also result in a loss of distance and accuracy due to the lack of solid contact. Additionally, it can lead to "pop-ups" or "sky shots" which are essentially wasted strokes that barely advance the ball, leading to higher scores.

By teeing the ball at the optimal height, the sweet spot of the clubhead - the area that maximizes energy transfer to the ball - will be in line with the middle of the ball. This alignment allows for clean contact and optimal launch conditions, leading to the maximum distance and increased accuracy. It helps you avoid mishits and the extra strokes they add to your score, and in turn, improves your handicap.

Remember, golf is a game of precision, and even seemingly small factors like tee height can have a big impact.

Consider Hiring A Professional

Enlisting the help of a professional golf coach could be one of the most beneficial steps you take to become a better golfer. Golf is a complex sport, demanding a blend of physical skill, strategic thinking, and mental toughness. While you can certainly make progress through self-study and practice, the insight and guidance of a seasoned professional can often fast-track your improvement. 

Trust us when we say that taking coaching is a major step in proving your commitment to getting better.

A good golf coach offers you a customized approach to learning. They can identify your strengths and weaknesses, assess your technique, and develop a tailored plan to address the areas you need to work on. 

This personalized approach can save you tons of valuable time and effort in comparison to a trial-and-error method. It's like having a roadmap that takes you straight to your destination, avoiding unnecessary detours along the way.

Moreover, professional guidance can help you understand the nuances of golf that aren't immediately obvious. This could include the intricacies of swing mechanics, course management strategies, or mental techniques to keep your composure under pressure. These are elements of the game that may take years to learn on your own but can be effectively taught by a skilled coach.

Another significant benefit is that a coach can provide immediate feedback. When you're playing or practicing on your own, it can be difficult to identify what you're doing wrong or right. A coach, with their trained eye, can spot issues with your stance, grip, swing, or even your club selection, and provide corrective advice right away. This immediate feedback loop can accelerate your learning and improvement.

Finally, a coach can help to keep you motivated and accountable. Improving at golf can be a slow process and it's not uncommon to experience periods of frustration or stagnation. A coach can provide the encouragement you need during these times, helping you to stay focused and committed to your improvement goals.

Final Words

The one major denominator that will help you improve your handicap is lots of practice and ample patience. Skills take time to master, and mastering the ones we outlined will help you get there faster.

Don’t be discouraged if you aren’t where you want to be at this moment in time; a little deliberate effort will go a far way.