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How to Become a Scratch Golfer: Insights from Coach Erik of EJS Golf | Scottsdale, AZ

Updated: Jul 31

Hey there, fellow golf enthusiasts! Coach Erik here from EJS Golf Academy in beautiful Scottsdale, AZ. Today, I want to share some valuable insights on how you can transform yourself from a single-digit golfer to a scratch golfer. It's an exciting journey, and I'm here to guide you through it. So grab a notepad and pen, and let's get started!

First and foremost, let's talk about the mindset required to become a scratch golfer. While being a single-figure golfer already puts you ahead of the game, we can always strive for more. What I hear most is that golfers think the difference to get to scratch means they have to start getting a bunch of birdies now. What needs to happen is the elimination of double bogeys and less bogeys. Statistics show that there won't be much of a difference between a scratch golfer and a 7 handicap golfer as far as birdies go. Remove the mistakes and get rid of the double bogeys and as many bogeys as possible. Believe in your abilities and visualize success on every shot.

Speaking of putting, when you have a lag putt from 60 feet don't try to hit it into a 3 foot circle. Shift your mindset to making the putt and heighten your awareness. What I see happen most often is that someone is told to aim for a 3 foot circle on a lag putt and they end up at least 3 feet away from the hole. So, you have your missed speed plus the 3 foot circle to figure out har far you are away from the hole now. Focus on holing your putts no matter where you are at. You always have a chance to make it, why would you concede a shot, don't! Consider the best line and pace that give you the highest chance of sinking it. This shift in mindset will improve your putting performance and elevate your game.

Now let's discuss practice. To become a scratch golfer, you need to bring the same mindset to your practice routine. It's not enough to go through the motions. Instead, vividly focus on holing each chip and putt during your short game practice. Pay attention to your technique, analyze your misses, and constantly strive for improvement. Switch up what you do. Never chip 3 balls in a row from the same place to the same hole. Switch up lies, angles, distance and get creative. Challenge your self to do something special!

Video: Deliberate full swing practice

Remember, practice and playing routines are the building blocks of success. Reflect on your weekly practice and playing habits. Do they align with the routines of a scratch golfer? If not, it's time to make adjustments. Understanding how to shape your golfing skills and improve your scoring abilities is key. When looking at this guide below you can see the big difference in time spent between a 9 hdcp golfer and a scratch golfer. The scratch golfer spends 5% more time on their short game and less time on the long clubs and driver. So, put down your 4 iron and driver and get better at getting up and down.

Practice time chart for golf

Tracking your progress is crucial. Instead of solely relying on your recollection of a round, keep high-level stats. Analyze the direction of your misses and identify areas for improvement. I recommend using an app through Arccos golf and/ or SwingU. These both will gather data when you play and give you the ability to look at your strokes gained. No longer will you be guessing what you need to spend your time on practicing. This data will inform your practice and guide you toward your weaknesses. Spend focused practice time on reducing big misses off the tee, honing your distance control from 50-150 yards, becoming a chipping wizard from 10-30 yards, and excelling at putting from within 6 feet and 10-25 feet.

Now, let's touch on technique. Contrary to popular belief, you don't need to reinvent your golf swing to become a scratch golfer. Nail the New Fundamentals of Golf and you will find accuracy in YOUR golf swing. Don't try to be anyone else's golf swing. Spend time figuring out who you are as a golfer. Grip, alignment and posture still matter. Why they matter is what has changed. Good coaches look for matchups to find answers to what is going on in the golf swing to cause a certain movement pattern and how to improve movement. My new Four Fundamentals of golf starts with having a powerful, repeatable and efficient rotation back and through the golf ball. This is THE FOUNDATION OF YOUR GOLF SWING!

Bonus Rotation Drill to get started on your journey to greatness

Finding an elite golf coach like myself is imperative. No longer will. you hear statements like you have to get worse at golf before you can get better. I can and will simplify your approach and keep your swing changes focused.. A great coach will empower you to understand your own swing and manage it effectively on the course. This is key for you to become a great golfer away from me, your golf coach. You have to understand your golf swing and not anyone else's. The best in the world do not spend time on staring at YouTube videos of other golfers to mimic their golf swing. No, they relentlessly build their own.

When it comes to on-course decision-making, be intentional. Don't rely on habit or familiarity with a particular club. Instead, assess each shot strategically. Determine the best place to leave your golf ball after each shot. Calculate where you can miss it and by how much. Take into account course conditions and adjust your strategy accordingly. When it comes to aggressive vs. playing it safe, play it smart is my rule. If you are aggressive, play aggressive with control. If you are a safe player, push. yourself to get aggressive. Test yourself with games away from tournaments or just regular practice play. Aim for the middle, right or left of the green based on where the pin is, slope, hazards around the green, run-offs, etc. When you have calculated best shot for you, go into execution mode. Picture the shot you are going to hit, including ball flight, and watch it in the air until you see it hit the green .

The times have changed where hitting a 3 wood instead of teeing off with a driver for safety is the correct answer. We have statistics to show us now the difference between the two and we know that you are going to lost at least 20 yards by going with the 3 wood off the tee. We also know that your dispersion rate with a 3 wood isn't that much different than what it is with a driver. Being 20 yards closer to the green, which is the difference between a 7 iron to a 9 iron. This is just one example of many that we now know after studying millions of golf shots. Follow the Decade Golf system that I use and many others designed by Scott Fawcett.

Driver vs 3 Wood off of the tee

Bonus drill

Lastly, enjoy the process! Becoming a scratch golfer requires dedication and perseverance. Embrace the challenges and relish the opportunity to spend your free time improving your game. Remember, it's a journey, and every step forward is a victory. As long as you are taking two steps forward and only one back during tough times, you will always be moving forward.

I hope these insights help you on your path to becoming a scratch golfer. If you want more valuable tips and articles delivered to your inbox, be sure to join my weekly blog posts. Happy golfing, and I look forward to helping you reach new heights on the course!


Coach Erik Schjolberg

EJS Golf Academy

Scottsdale Golf Lessons

Online Golf Lessons

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