I used to play off …

Heard it 100 times.

“Cameron, I used to play off 9 (insert your lowest handicap number here) but I have now lost the plot”

Here’s the usual story: Golfer gets down to a fairly low handicap before Pesky and the adult mind kicks in. Golfer doesn’t really know they’re off a low handicap and think if they fix swing/technique/game they’ll get their handicap down further.

This is when the rot kicks in. Before long 10 (or 20,30, 40) years have passed and your handicap is double (or more) of what it used to be. You’ve missed out on your best golfing years and it’s almost certain that golf has gotten the better of you. Sure, you’ve had some fun and enjoyed some good rounds, but you know deep down you’ve left your best golf on the table. Here’s a refreshing alternative;

– Forget about your handicap. It really is just a stupid number. The handicap has certainly sidetracked my play in the past but I worry less and less about it these days. I almost wish that it didn’t exist because then people wouldn’t ask me, “what’s your handicap?”.

– Play in a way that suits you. It seems that our best golf happens when we’re not trying so hard. Play the game. We all tend to play better when we’re focused on the game, not our score or some other distraction.

– Break some rules. I’m not talking about cheating, but golf is such a stuffy sport that we tend to tread too carefully. Time to open up and cut loose. Swing freely. Hit the ball hard. Play quickly.

– Have some fun. This is often easier said than done – especially when you’re doing the same old stuff over and over. But change your approach and focus on what’s satisfying to you then I reckon you’ll have a breakthrough.

The golf handicap is a poorly conceived way to pigeon hole golfers. It’s a stupid number that is supposed to represent our golf ability but it isn’t our golf game. I’ve seen two handicappers who couldn’t beat time and played with 15 markers who were true masters. Also witnessed golfers who have completely lost the plot when their handicap drops by a point – it’s madness. Don’t let your handicap ruin you.

Final point: I’ve been saying for years now if you play the game and unlock your automatic swing that the handicap will take care of itself. I still can’t think of anything better to say …

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