The Key to Real Improvement - A Case Study

Chris had been working on his game for over one year without making any progress. Although playing several times a week and practicing for two hours once a week, Chris's handicap was stuck at 30 over par, and he seemed unable to break 100 when he played on his home course.

Determined to break out of the rut, Chris decided to start using the Mentor's approach to improvement. First he set his goals. His target was to bring his handicap down from 30 to 20 in a period of twelve months. He decided to maintain his regime of playing twice a week and practicing for two hours per week. However, he decided to be much more focused in his practice and break it up into two or three sessions, perhaps one and half hours at the driving range or golf course, and one half an hour a week at home. The practice at home could focus on drills that supported his other practice. He set his halfway reward as buying that new Callaway driver he had wanted for over a year and the final reward was to take his wife away on for a weekend.

Chris then reviewed his game and worked out that he was losing the most strokes with his driving, often ending up in the deep rough or worse. Accordingly, for his first practice cycle his major focus was his driving. He was also having trouble with his chipping, so decided to work on that as his secondary focus.

After searching the internet, Chris found an excellent video tutorial series on how to improve your full swing, and decided to follow this. He also dug out an old book that he had on the short game which allowed him to see how his chipping style had deteriorated. So Chris had diagnosed his faults, decided on the corrective action, and planned his practice sessions. This was going to be an hour a week at the driving range, half an hour a week of drills at home, and half an hour a week practing chipping at his home course. So for the first practice cycle of four weeks, Chris followed this plan, posting blogs about his games and practice sessions. After four weeks, he reviewed his progress. He was pleased to see his handicap had come down by two strokes, mainly due to his regaining his old chipping style. He could see progress with his full swing, in that it was closer to the style advocated in the video tutorial, but he had not yet seen a change in his driving accuracy. Chris decided to continue focusing on the driving for a further two practice cycles. This resulted in dramatic improvements, with his drive becoming much more reliable. He had broken 100 a couple of times.

At the end of the third practice cycle, Chris carried out a review, and found that the approach was really working. His handicap had now reduced to 25, this meant he was more than halfway to his target, so it was time to buy that new Callaway driver. Much of his handicap reduction was attributable to the more reliable driving. His analysis now revealed that he was losing the most strokes on his approach shots. Accordingly, he decided to make this the focus his the next practice cycle. He decided to work for an hour and a half at the driving range, focusing mainly on the accuracy of his long and short irons. His review also revealed that his putting was also a problem, so he made this the secondary focus, planning to spend half an hour a week at home working on this. In the next four weeks, Chris's approach shots became much more reliable, and he stopped missing those short putts. His handicap came down to 22, and on the last game of the practice cycle, Chris played the round of his life in competition at his club He played to a 17 handicap, breaking 90, won the competition>. He was so excited he brought drinks for everyone at in the bar at the golf club. What a day!

Having reached a 22 handicap in less four months and had a round where he played to 17 handicap, Chris realised that using Goal Oriented Reflective Practice that he could improve rapidly than he had believed possible. He set a new goal of reaching a handicap of 15 in six months. He wisely also took his wife away for the weekend. The two of them had a great time, and he even managed not to play golf for the whole weekend.

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