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The bad golfer will certainly do everything to shave a stroke or two off his average score. But still won't be able to break 100.
The bad golfer will certainly do everything to shave a stroke or two off his average score. But still won't be able to break 100. (Courtesy Texas Children's Hospital)

Anatomy of a bad golfer: What it takes to be a true duffer

By Staff

The common misconception associated with the bad golfer is that he possesses absolutely no golfing skill whatsoever. That couldn't be further from the truth. The person who fits that description would be classified as the person who golfs badly. In other words, he has neither the ability nor the coordination which is necessary to play golf at all. He's the guy who rents clubs, plays with range balls and asks, "What does 'PW' mean?" The bad golfer is in another category, altogether.

The bad golfer is the guy who plays at least once a week, hits the driving range on a regular basis, takes lessons, and still can't break 100 with a sledgehammer. The bad golfer knows the fundamentals of how to play the game, he just can't execute them with any degree of skill.

One trait of the bad golfer is how he does everything to increase his score. The average round of the bad golfer presents the opportunity to completely screw up a hole with nearly every stroke. To begin with possibly the most common path on the road to elevated scores is the nerve-racking first tee. Not only is it the preview of things to come but even worse, the foursomes waiting their turn are watching. This is the reason why the bad golfer hopes to tee off either second or third in his foursome. The rationale behind that is people tend to remember both the first and last things in any series and the last thing the bad golfer wants is people remembering his shanked tee-shot which ends up 130 yards out in the thick line of trees.

The bad golfer faces a dilemma when it comes to hitting the ball the proper distance. Because he has no idea how he will strike the ball, club selection suddenly becomes a vital life decision. From 150 yards out in perfect conditions, for example, the 6 or 7-iron which would be the correct choice. However, being a bad golfer, that is probably not enough club. Out comes the 5-iron. He addresses the ball, thinks long and hard about the shot, and takes his swing. A perfect shot ... if the green was 180 yards away. The one time he hits the ball on the sweet spot he ends up 30 yards past the hole in someone's backyard behind the green.

Another problem with which the bad golfer is presented on a more than regular basis is getting out of a troubled lie due in part to the fact that 80 percent of his shots come to rest either on the cart path, in the trees or under a car. An all to familiar scenario is the ball in the woods recovery shot. As he prepares to punch the ball back onto the fairway, he remembers, from the instructional video, to use a 3 or 4-iron, choke down and put the ball back in his stance to hit a low shot. As he is getting up from hitting the dirt to avoid being decapitated by the ball which ricocheted off the tree 10 yards ahead, he realizes the one important thing he forgot ... lining up the shot.

Course management is an aspect of the game that routinely escapes the mind of the bad golfer. His only goal is to better his last score of 123 and he'll do anything to accomplish that including making use of the bad golfer's mortal enemy, the fairway wood. He can't hit it off the tee so why does he think when he's 225 yards from the green in the rough it will work? The bad golfer knows that the correct shot choice would be a 5-iron from the thick rough but he's setting up his fourth shot and he wants to get near the green. Out comes the 3-wood! He knows it's the wrong club and that thought is all that's going through his mind when he swings and slices the ball out of bounds.

Bad golf and the art of creative scoring

The bad golfer will realize he has reached that plateau when he has mastered one specific ability ... creative scoring. This does not only encompass selectively forgetting strokes when posting his score for each hole but the ability to rationalize why he should not count a shot and/or not be assessed penalty strokes. Most average golfers do play with the one Mulligan per nine rule, however, the bad golfer usually plays one Mulligan per bad shot. If he does not obtain the results he had expected he will attempt the excuse of "someone moved" which distracted him, therefore allowing him to rehit without penalty. If his ball happens to go out of bounds but in sight, the lift, clean and place rule comes into effect no matter the weather conditions. His rational, "it's not lost."

Chances are, the bad golfer will never improve to the point where he'll be competing for tour status but he will certainly do everything to shave a stroke or two off his average score. Which leads to the tell tale sign of a true bad golfer. He does not carry a handicap only an average score. The reason being when tells others that he plays every week and they ask about his game, he knows a 41 handicap sounds much worse than saying he shoots in the low 100s.

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