"Anyone can be Scratch" and we definitely DO NOT critically examine anyone's game

I made this claim in another thread and I believe it wholeheartedly. Online is a bit harder than a playing lesson, but I know we can find ways to crowdsource some strokes off your handicap.

We have so many great resources out there to work smarter not harder when it comes to improvement technically and in how we actually go about thinking and playing the actual game of golf.

So I wanted to get this thread going so those of us who are there, those of us who are close to there, and those of us who want to get to there can help each other achieve that goal.

Assessment will be honest, sorry I’m a coach, as with anything involving improvement we must take ownership of our weaknesses so we can acknowledge them and begin to make them strengths, but this is a safe place to seek guidance on improvement.

You see something cool on the forum, on the Gram, Twitter or YouTube post it here. Summarize it, sell us on what sold you. Was it the whole video, drill, don’t just dump but share and enlighten.

You find yourself failing in the same situations, post it here. Let’s dissect what’s happening and find a way to set a path for growth and improvement that won’t ever let it happen again.

Anyone can be scratch, so lets take the first step to get there.


This is inspiring


I think anyone can be but that doesn’t mean every one has the situation to. I can’t tell a 12 handicapper who just had a new baby and 2 more young kids that they’re going to have enough time to devote to golf to get to scratch. Maybe they will but lots of people in that situation won’t.


Yes, I think knowing where you stand and setting realistic expectations for yourself is a first key step in being happy with your game and possibly improving at a rate/level that is achievable.

Best thing that ever happened to my golf game was to quit trying to be a scratch. I don’t have the time and was just miserable when I played. Now I’ve accepted that I am just happy as long as I am sub 5…I have more fun, play relaxed…and can celebrate the good days.

I think some people can have a goal of XYZ handicap…some (for me) goal was to have more fun. That meant forgetting about the number.


“Availability”/ “schedule” / “situation” can be a weakness too, @pinhigh27. And if it’s not one that is willing to be changed (because life can be more important and not everyone only lives around golf), it can be a very difficult constraint to operate under.

1 Like

This was/is my favorite putting drill:

3 balls - 3 lives
You miss a putt you lose a ball/life

find a straight uphill putt and put tees in the ground every 2 feet straight back
2’,4’,6’,8’,10’,12’,14’,16’ etc…about 6-8 spots should suffice.

start at 2’, if you make it, move back a spot. If you miss. Stay on that spot till you make it.

Pressure gets going when you have 1 ball left. Teaches me to focus on every putt…and when you get to about 10-12’ you get very dialed about MAKING the putt…not lagging it.

see how far back you can go. I play the game about 3-4 times in a row. You can move to sidehill/downhill etc.

You will be amazed at how many more putts you will make on your last ball vs. your first or second ball…very mental. To be scratch you have to sink putts…not lag putts. If you get inside 15’ some of them should drop. This game helped me get aggressive on the short putts and get comfortable drilling putts with speed inside 10’

here is the link its Peter Finch (ducks) I used to like him.


I can agree with this.

I may be a bit overconfident, but I believe I would be scratch if I could play 3,4, even 5 times a week. Life seems to get in the way and when my game is at it’s best, I’m on the course 2-3 times a week. If I’m only getting out on Sundays, I’m not getting any better.

Getting on the course more is a crucial part of my “Get my HDCP below 5” goal this year.


I love your confidence but you could not be more mistaken. Respectfully.

If we think of scratch as 0.0, not 3 and not 5 who can go low on a good day. Even with the new handicap system 8 of previous 20 scores calculate out to 0?

I take the opposite. No matter how much drive, determination, practice, resources, there will always be some people who cannot reach scratch.

Not to say they cant become very good or enjoy the game immensely, but scratch requires (to me) a certain talent that i cant measure. Some combination of game smarts and physical, mental, emotional ability to control score even when swing is not there.


I’m with you. The vast majority of golfers can never hit scratch due to time constraints. It’s a real bitch.


Similar drill Ryan Palmer did a video with Elk on a couple years ago. 3, 6, 9, 12 and 15 feet. Make 3 in a row at 3 to move to 6. Have to make 3 in a row to move to 9. Miss even one, move back up to 3 and start over. Miss at 9 feet, move back to 6 and so on. Only have to make 2/3 from 12 and 15.

Can take 5 minutes or an hour. Puts the pressure on when it’s one of the last things you’re doing and you want to leave but need to finish the drill. Can get all the way to 15’ and then just start missing putts and find yourself back at 3’ in a heartbeat.


I feel I have great control over my mental approach as well as my emotional response to the ebbs and flows of a round. I need to get stronger and improve my flexibility.

A good friend of mine and my regular playing partner is a scratch and played in college (small school, but still college golf). Our games aren’t that different in terms of length and ability to make shots - I out drive him and putt better but his short game is pretty sick, which is the weakest part of my game. I feel like if I could play more and on a consistent basis, I could beat him in a match without getting strokes.

Maybe I’m overconfident with this line of thinking but if I tell myself I’ll never be able to get where I want to go, what’s the point?

I got back into golf last year after mostly not playing through 5 years at college and 2 years after college. I wanted to get back to scratch so I started working with a local pro that someone recommended to me. I really like him and I’ve gone down from roughly a 5 to 1, but he seemed content with where my game was even though I felt there were things to be done better.

A couple months back I reached out to my old coach from middle / high school (i.e. the guy I worked with when I first started) to see if he would coach online (I live in Seattle, he’s still in Scotland). To my surprise, he said yes. It hasn’t been long, but so far I really like it. I send him videos over Whatsapp, he sends me very specific pieces I need to work on with drills, and then I take a few weeks to work on it before sending him another video. It gives me a lot of time to focus on each motion and it’s a lot more cost effective - 60 pounds for an hour of actual work vs. $150 for an hour of mostly me hitting balls.

All this to say that my goal is to get back to scratch and go beyond it. I love competing and, more than anything, I love competing against myself and seeing how well I can make changes. Scratch is kind of an arbitrary goal, but I really enjoy the challenge of trying to improve a tiny amount every day. This goes for other things in life just as much as it goes for golf, but golf is (I think) one of the easiest to track MoM and YoY.


I took 5 years off from golf when I had my 5-year old. I felt every word of this.

1 Like

preach !!! this is me…I feel like if I could get more flexible…like my whole body, everywhere…my swing would hold up better through the course of the day. My swing on #3 is vastly different than my swing on #16.

1 Like

From a very, very high level view: There are two parts to being scratch.

  1. Mentally being scratch. Game management, decision-making, etc. (Planning).
  2. Club / physical control. (Execution).

The reason so many previously-scratch players are quickly able to get back is because they’ve retained #1. You can hit the everloving daylights out of the golf ball (be PERFECT on #2) and still be a terrible golfer. #1 is hard. Not “impossible”, but requires being transparent about all kinds of things, like ability, ego, etc.

Ego is a huge mountain to climb.


So, as a group, first question:

“What do we think is the absolute minimum time you can devote and still grow enough in 3 years at most to reach scratch?”

I am currently violating all of my rules on course, so I will contribute this afternoon, when I hopefully save this shit.

for example, @gatorz7888 makes terrible course management decisions and he could probably get to 0.0 in no time if he would make better decisions off the tee. for example, just hit it one way kyle!!!

he is outstanding in #2 execution, just… needs some mental work.

It’s both 1 and 2. I got back to scratch so quickly because after playing golf for 30 years quitting my club control came back relatively quickly. It would be very difficult for someone to develop that later in life if they never had it.

It’s sort of like riding a bike…sort of because my club control/swing isn’t as good as it was when I quit.


Was it Harry Higgs on the NLU pod that said “I the shot is a 140yd shot, then hit it 140” in so many words? Talking about, who cares what club it takes - set aside the ego. If it takes your 7 or 6 iron to go 140, then hit the 140 shot. I see too many guis think they can get their GI PW (which is like 43*) to go 160 and then chunk it 80 and make triple.

1 Like

The direct quote from Higgs:

“A good player sees 140 and says that’s a full PW.”
“A great player sees 140 and says, I need to hit this ball 140.”

The more-telling quote from him, IMO, was his thing about “Sometimes, I just know I’m gonna slap the ball, so I pick the slap club, and slap it, instead of trying to force the other club.”