10 Proven Strategies to Lower Your Golf Handicap

Date Published: 23/11/2023

Nothing beats the feeling of watching your Handicap Index® decrease as your golf skills increase. It’s highly motivating, and with the right approach, something you can continue to improve. Here are ten proven strategies to reduce your Handicap Index®.

1.Consistent long-distance drives

A well-struck long drive is an essential part of keeping your score and your handicap low. It gives you an easier short-game shot and allows you to attack par 5s. The drive is the platform for the rest of your game, making it a crucial skill to master.

2. Good club-to-ball contact

Most of your shots should be coming off the middle of your club face. It’s very unlikely that this will happen with every shot you play, but with good, crisp contact, the number of recovery shots you will need to play will reduce.

3. Learn to curve your golf ball

Playing an intentional slice or hook shot can help you avoid hazards and tackle dogleg holes. One of the easiest ways to do this is to adjust your grip on the club. For right handed golfers, turn both hands to the right so that your thumbs sit on the right side of the shaft: this will curve the ball left. The reverse is also true. Practice finding the right amount of grip adjustment necessary to slice or hook your shot to achieve the desired result.

4. Learn bunker distance control

A recovery shot from the bunker can make or break your hole. The closer the shot lands to the hole, the easier the putt becomes. A simple way to control the distance of your bunker shots is with club selection. Use a lob wedge for short shots, a sand wedge for medium length shots, and a gap wedge for longer shots.

5. Learn distance control on pitches and chips

Your short game is mostly comprised of pitches and chip shots (pitches have a higher arc and sit close to where they land, while chips bump and roll). A low handicap in golf requires distance control in both disciplines. A good way to work on this is to know what your distance range is for your wedges to ensure you choose the right club for the right shot.

6. Aim for greens in regulation

The term ‘greens in regulation’ refers to reaching the green in enough strokes to two putt the hole to par. For example, on a par 4, hitting the green in regulation would mean that the ball comes to rest on the green with your second stroke.

7. Eliminate three putts

Three putts refer to the number of putts you take on the green to sink your ball. Putts are tricky, and three putt greens quickly add to your score. Practise green speed and distance control so that your first putt regularly settles close to the pin.

8. Drain your mid-length putts

If you can start to sink your mid-length putts, you will naturally lower your handicap. Mid-length putts require excellent distance and directional control, as well as a good ability to read the green.

9. Know when to play for the bogey

Sometimes good golf comes down to reading the hole, and realising that a two stroke bogey is a better option than risking a very tough shot to save par.

10. Cut penalty shots out of your game

Keep your ball in play and look to avoid any penalty hazards. This may seem like an obvious golf tip, but look for ways to keep the risk to a minimum – such as playing a shot over the smallest distance of water rather than aiming for the flag.

Keep track of your golf handicap with iGolf

iGolf is a subscription-based platform launched by England Golf designed specifically for non-club members. You gain access to a Handicap Index® under theWorld Handicap System™ and benefit from Personal Liability Insurance, ensuring a worry-free experience.

Simply sign up, download the England Golf app and login to gain access to the iGolf platform. Benefits include:

  • A complete digital history of your Handicap Index® and scoring history.
  • Keep track of your progression.
  • Easy sign-up process.
  • £46 for a 12-month subscription.