So, you’re new to golf and have probably been hearing the term scratch golfer floating around the course. You might have found yourself wondering, What is a scratch golfer?
While I’m sure you have a mean follow-through, I doubt you are quite scratch material just yet, and likely just an average golfer. But, be patient, you’re well on your way!
Scratch Golfer Statistics
A scratch golfer is the best of the best on the golf course. Some would argue that they have the ability to be a professional in the world of golf with very little to no bad shots. While a bogey golfer is an average player, a scratch golfer is nearly perfect, making up only 2% of golfers!
To put it into perspective, a scratch driver can consistently play a course handicap of zero and drive a ball upwards of 250 yards. This ability is to be met on all grades of courses.
Professional male golfers must maintain a handicap of 4.4 to meet industry standards. That being said, if an individual becomes a scratch golfer, they possess exceptional skill and sportsmanship.
The professional golf circuit does hold varying standards for men and women. A male scratch golfer must be able to reach a 470 yard hole within two strokes.
Women golfers, on the other hand, must reach a 400 yard hole in two strokes. A measly 1.6% of men gain the scratch title and less than 1% of females earn the title of a scratch player.
Becoming a Scratch Golfer
While adding the term scratch player to your resume isn’t an easy feat, it can never hurt to try! Here’s some pro tips to help you earn your much deserved designation!
Step 1: Practice
The first step is to practice! This sounds cliche, but you don’t become a scratch golfer by playing putt-putt at your local mini golf course. You need to hit the range daily and at least one course weekly to meet the appropriate practice time. Throw in a lesson or two weekly, if your budget allows, for optimal results.
Golfing is mostly muscle memory. Get your body used to the weight of your clubs, your stance, your posture, and your follow-through. Practice perfecting and tweaking all of these aspects. If something isn’t working, tweak it until you see results you want.
With consistent practice and determination comes longer shots, faster drives, and more precise holes. Chip shots and approach shots are often areas in which amateur golfers or beginner golfers need the most practice.
While practicing daily can be daunting, it’s the only way to train your body for the precision needed to become a scratch golfer.
Step 2: Use Professional Clubs
Clubs are the single most important element of golfing. If your goal is to partake in the professional golfing circuit, it’s imperative that you invest in quality clubs. Graphite clubs tend to be the top choice of professional golfers as they are lighter weight, allowing for more speed on the drive.
When this level of the sport is being discussed, it’s common to purchase custom clubs. You will notice a difference in your performance when the club stem length is tailored to your height.
In addition, the thickness of the grip can also substantially alter your stroke. Being able to properly hold a golf club that is the appropriate height and angle can drastically increase your performance and chances of going pro.
Step 3: Partake in Strength Training
Many novice golfers don’t realize the importance of overall fitness and agility. It’s easy to just swing a club, right? Wrong. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including both diet and exercise is imperative to having a strong golf game!
It’s also worthwhile to note that flexibility and mobility are of equal importance on the course. The strength behind your swing lies solely in the force extended from your chest, arms, and core muscles. The stronger these areas are, the stronger your drive will be.
Remember the drive requirements for being a scratch golfer that we discussed above? If you can’t quite hit your drive length goal, keep your gym visits consistent and focus on strength training.
Mobility training, such as yoga or pilates, can also be beneficial as it encourages liquid movements and smooth follow-through in your swing. If you need extra help, here are some exercises to improve your golf game.
Step 4: Hit the Range
Remember to hit the range! First, it’s fun and great for your mental game! Second, it’s a sure way to reach your goals and improve.
When we’re talking scratch golfers, we can’t just assume their abilities stop at a forceful, direct drive. These golfers also excel in putting, tee shots, bunker exits, follow-through, and knowledge of their clubs.
Visits to the range will provide consistent practice in all of these areas. It will take time at a range to learn each of your clubs and the distance that each club can provide with your own personal swing.
A seven iron to one golfer will result in a different trajectory and distance compared to another golfer with the same club. Knowing your own clubs will drastically change your overall performance, follow-through, tee shots, and length of drive.
Step 5: Speed It Up
A common misconception is that golf is a slow moving game. While it is a leisure sport, we can not overlook the importance of speed in this competitive sport.
It’s imperative to operate your club with a strong, powerful, and fast speed swing. This allows not only for the golf ball to reach a higher miles per hour, but inhibits direction and curve. The more power behind the ball, the more control the golfer has!
Let’s Get to Work
Now that we know what it entails to become a scratch golfer, it’s time to hit the gym and the range on a regular basis! Investment of time will be crucial in your growth. With consistent training and determination, you should have the foundation to join the two percent.
You can also consult with a golf insider or golf coach to help you improve your game!