3 keys this amateur used to go from shooting 99 to nearly breaking 80

GOLF Top 100 Teacher Ed Oldham details the 3 keys he used to help an amateur named Justin shave an incredible 18 strokes off his scorecard

From averaging 99 to nearly breaking 80, here's how this amateur improved his golf game.

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Welcome to Shaving Strokes, a GOLF.com series in which we’re sharing improvements, learnings and takeaways from amateur golfers just like you — including some of the speed bumps and challenges they faced along the way.

One of my absolute favorite things about being GOLF’s Instruction Editor is hearing success stories from players of all different abilities.

As someone who’s made it clear that breaking 80 is my personal goal, it’s fun to share in the journey and the glory of other golfers who are capable of shaving strokes off their game to accomplish it themselves. Celebrating victories both big and small — isn’t that part of what makes the game so cool in the first place?

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So when one of our GOLF Top 100 Teachers, Ed Oldham, hit me up and told me he had a student named Justin who went from regularly shooting 99 to nearly breaking 80, I just had to hear more.

Oldham was happy to oblige, and provided some context below — as well as the three most important keys that helped take Justin from hovering around 100 to dropping 18 strokes. Check out the tips below.

3 keys that helped Justin nearly break 80

According to Oldham, he and Justin first met about a year ago, when Justin showed up as a 19-handicap who averaged about 99 each round. And, like most amateur players, he just simply wanted to eliminate unforced errors to help lower his scores.

“Justin’s goals were to improve his ball-striking ability, eliminate 3-putts, and lower his score to around 85,” Oldham tells me.

Understanding the assignment at hand, Oldham went to work during the first lesson together, cleaning up a few fundamental flaws that he noticed in Justin’s swing.

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“Justin had a weak left-hand grip, came over-the-top on the downswing, and was often making contact on either the heel or the hosel of the club,” he said.

“So we strengthened his left-hand grip to help the clubface, which, in turn, helped his path. We then prioritized better contact by using a drill I call ‘miss on the inside’, something I learned from John Dunigan, which uses Dr. Scholl’s spray on the clubface for instant feedback.

How does this drill work? Oldham explains:

“The whole point of this drill is pretty simple: Just miss on the inside of the golf ball,” he explains. “Set up with the club behind the ball, make a practice swing, and make sure you miss the ball on the inside. Repeat once more, then on the third swing, try to make contact way out on the toe.”

After helping Justin work on his ball-striking and mis-hits, Oldham then turned to improving his student’s putting — which was the focus during their second lesson together.

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“I immediately wanted him to improve his putting distance control,” Oldham said. “So we used a tempo drill, making sure Justin focused on the hole during his practice swings, and making sure he felt the sensation for the right size and tempo to match the distance.”

Within one month, Justin shaved 14 strokes off his scorecard and shot an 85. Not to be outdone, two months later he shot a new personal best: 81.

“Justin put in the work, stuck with the plan, and then applied it on the course,” Oldham says of his student. “By improving his clubface, contact, and distance control with putting, he was able to nearly break 80.”

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Golf.com Contributor

Nick Dimengo

Golf.com Editor