How To Become a Scratch Golfer: A Guide For High Handicappers

Some golfers dream of becoming the next Tiger Woods. Others simply want to become the best, at least in the local golf club. A golfer can dream of becoming anything in the game as long as that dream keeps them going. If you need one more reason to keep playing, becoming a scratch golfer could be it.

Becoming a scratch golfer is not for the faint-hearted, but nothing in life that is worth achieving comes easy. And yes, becoming a scratch golfer is a dream every golfer can have, including high handicappers like you!

What’s a Scratch Golfer?

The United States Golf Association (USGA) defines a scratch golfer as a player who can play to a Course Handicap of zero on all rated golf courses. While there’s yet to be a formal study on the number of scratch golfers worldwide, popular opinions say only 2% of golfers are. After all, shooting 250 yards on average and reaching a 470-yard hole in two shots seems impossible!

Pros vs Scratch Golfers

So is dreaming of becoming a scratch golfer the same as dreaming of becoming a pro? Both types of golfers deserve to be on top, and golfers who play off of a 19 and above handicap can want to become either. But the difference between the two lies in the statistics.

  • Scratch golfers average 66% of Greens-In-Regulation; pros average over 70%
  • Pros average 65% of Fairways-Hit; scratch golfers average 50-54%
  • Pros get up and down 66% of the time; scratch golfers do 50%

Becoming a professional golfer is still the ultimate goal for many, but scratch golfers have just as much prestige and respect. For high handicappers, having a handicap of zero is a great (and debilitating!) accomplishment to aim for.

What Does It Take To Be a Scratch Golfer?

A handicap of zero seems impossible for high handicappers, so imagining actually achieving it might be a nightmare. But you can actually divide the scratch golfer journey into parts. First, you can learn what a scratch golfer looks like. No, they’re not birdie machines or miracle workers. They’re golfers with incredible steadiness in their games!

Scratch golf stats look something like this:

  • Greens In Regulation: 67%
  • Fairways Hit: 53%
  • Putts Per Hole: 1.67
  • Scrambling: 54%
  • Sand Saves: 59%
  • Average Driving Distance: 251 yards

When you have these numbers, you can start working on your game. Your focus must be on the ball striking, even if you don’t have tremendous length. If you have misses, you must learn to play them.

Can Everyone Be a Scratch Golfer?

The playing field is even! But golfers with the belief and determination to get to scratch have a much better chance than those without. You may have the skills, but scratch golfers need the mental fortitude to succeed in tough conditions.

So, realistically, not everyone can become a scratch golfer. Becoming a scratch golfer needs skills and a belief in those skills. Those who think that scratch golf is just “very hard, not impossible” have a higher chance of reaching scratch than those who don’t.

Tips To Become a Scratch Golfer

Scratch golfers don’t come out of thin air. You need to keep in mind several tips if you want to succeed. Here are ten tips for high handicappers to get you started:

1. Take Lessons

Confidence in golf doesn’t mean you have to learn everything on your own. Learning the basics from experts can give you a solid foundation to build on. Taking lessons allows you to maximize your time and money, so it’s always a good investment. Find a coach you can trust to help you around the golf course and give you the best advice!

2. Use the Right Equipment

If you’ve been playing golf for a long while, you know the sport doesn’t just need a golf club and a ball. You need the right equipment to help you hit longer and straighter shots. Invest in quality clubs, balls, gloves, and other accessories. Get fitted for the right golf clubs and use them enough to get comfortable with them.

3. Practice Smart and With a Purpose

Hitting the course every day isn’t enough to become a scratch golfer. You must practice smart and with a purpose. Don’t hit the same shots on the range over and over again. Scratch golfers must be creative and use the range for what it is meant for… Practice various shots, including trouble shots and different types of lies.

4. Master Your Shots

Scratch golfers understand their strengths and weaknesses, and they can pick the best shot for every situation. Know when to play aggressively and when to take your time. You must have a plan for each shot you take and be ready to play differently in different situations. And the only way to do it is to practice and master your shots!

5. Know Your Swing

Besides your shots, you know your swing is another crucial part of golf. You don’t want to be too flashy, as scratch golfers know the importance of consistency. When practicing, allot time to focus on your swing. No, not all scratch golfers have the same swing. But scratch golfers have one that suits their game and makes them consistent.

6. Focus On Your Tempo

Next, scratch golfers have an excellent grasp of rhythm and tempo. They understand the importance of having a consistent pace when swinging the club and can hit the ball consistently. Take note: one thing pros and scratch golfers have in common is a 3:1 full-swing tempo. They aren’t too fast or too slow, but just right.

7. Be On Top of Your Short Game

Scratch golfers know that their short game is the key to success. They practice it a lot and understand how to get up and down in different situations. Scratch golfers spend much time on the practice green and know precisely how to handle different lies or where to land the ball when faced with challenging shots.

8. Track Your Stats

Of course, it’s best to also keep track of your performance. Analyzing your stats will help you identify your weaknesses and figure out what you need to change. You can even use your stats to develop other goals for yourself!

9. Play With Better Golfers

Learning from others is a great way to gain insight and knowledge that you can use to improve your game. So, play with low handicappers and note what makes them great players! The golf community is full of incredible players, so have the humility and willingness to reach out and learn from them.

10. Strengthen Your Mental Game

Lastly, scratch golfers are incredibly mentally tough. They don’t let the little things stop them and always find a way to stay focused and motivated, even when the going gets tough. They understand that their mental game is just as important as golf’s physical and technical aspects.

You’re On Your Way!

Wanting to become a scratch golfer isn’t a far-fetched dream. All scratch golfers start somewhere, and with the right amount of dedication and hard work, you could be one too! So set your goals, practice with a purpose, and never give up. You might be a high handicapper now, but somewhere inside you could be a scratch golfer waiting to get out!

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