Scoring, not great drives or pinpoint approach shots, is the secret to breaking 80 and to score like a pro.
So, you need to become a good scorer to go low. One PGA pro that epitomizes a good scorer is Phil Mickelson. He’s been among the PGA’s top players for better than a decade. His ability to score down the stretch is what keeps him near the top of the PGA Tour year in, year out.
But scoring isn’t as easy as it sounds. In fact, it’s a challenge for many weekend golfers. To do it well, you have to eliminate the mistakes that cost you strokes. But scoring doesn’t mean you have to make major swing or game adjustments. Often, it’s just a question of making small changes that help you play smart golf. And playing smart golf is the key to breaking 80 and chipping strokes off your golf handicap.
Phil Mickelson is one pro on the tour who has become a scoring machine. Below are five scoring secrets to score like a pro:
• Trade yards for accuracy — Mickelson has always been a little shaky of the tee. But in 2013 he made a fateful decision that turned his long game around. He opted for accuracy over distance. That year Lefty achieved the highest percentage of greens hit since 2004. In other words, he traded yards for accuracy off the tee—and it worked. Weekend golfers need to do the same. Using a higher lofted driver (at least 10.5) or the 3-wood off the tee more will get you there.
• Use length to add distance — Mickelson’s natural swing is long and loose. He tried a shorter swing, but then went back to his natural swing in 2013. It works for him because he is a master at letting the club rotate freely through the ball and into his forward swing. And he does it without holding back. So he’s able to drive the ball long distances.
• Staying true to your natural swing can work for you, too.
But use swing length not swing speed to grab extra yards. Make your backswing as long as you comfortably can. Then turn your torso—and your hips as much as you can. Using swing length lets you swing naturally and boost yardage while staying within yourself.
• Perfect your putting — Mickelson did three things to “weaponized” his putting in 2013 to improve scoring capabilities: He:
1. Delofted the putter less than he did and forward presses the shaft less
2. Used a fat grip, which reduces hand action and needs less grip pressure
3. Visualized the roll of his putts more
The last change is the real key to Mickelson’s skill with the flat stick. So, spend more time on the practice green visualizing roll, and less on worry about mechanics. Picturing the ball’s role perfectly in your mind is step one in perfecting your putting.
• Turn chip shots into scoring chances — Mickelson’s superb touch around the greens turn chips into scoring shots. He’s a proponent of the hinge-and-hold technique of chipping. He believes it’s the only way to hit solid chips consistently. Many PGA pros would agree. This technique is simple to learn and works in most situations. Plus, it cuts down on the biggest mistake in chipping—letting the clubhead pass your hands after impact.
• Play without fear — Mickelson is among the streakiest players on the Tour. That because he knows reward can’t come without risk. In other words, he plays without fear, enabling him to turn tough shots into scoring changes, something he continued to do in 2013. While you shouldn’t copy every shot Mickelson tries, you should copy his style by approaching every shot without fear. Do that by visualizing success at the start of a shot and developing a pre-shot routine. And stick with it. Also, simplify everything. Pick your target, see the shot, and swing.
Use these five golf tips from Mickelson to ignite your scoring capabilities. Each encourages a small adjustment to how you’re playing now that payoffs big on the course. Ingraining these golf tips can turn you into a scoring demon that will dominate your foursome. It will also help you break 80 and shave strokes off your golf handicap. Who doesn’t want all that?