If you want to lower your scores, this is an absolute must

Eliminating doubles is hugely important to lowering your handicap.

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Editor’s note: This tip was featured in GOLF’s Play Smart package from the September/October 2022 issue of GOLF Magazine. Look for more tips on GOLF.com, and click here to subscribe to the magazine.

The difference between the lowest handicaps and the rest of us isn’t the quantity of good shots. It’s what happens after the bad ones. 

Jon Sherman, in his recently published book, The Four Foundations of Golf ($25; amazon.com), outlines one of the clearest statistical truths in golf: It’s not about making more birdies. It’s about making fewer double bogeys (or worse). 

As you see in the table above, a 14-handicap cards about 1.5 fewer birdies than a 2-handicap, per round. Nice, but here’s the rub: He posts more than twice the amount of double bogeys. A 20-handicap? He’s making two times fewer birdies than a 2, and five times more double bogeys! 

It’s not the sexiest headline, but if you want to lower your scores, stop trying to make more birdies. Instead, play safer and win the war against those back-breaking doubles.

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Luke Kerr-Dineen

Golf.com Contributor

Luke Kerr-Dineen is the Game Improvement Editor at GOLF Magazine and GOLF.com. In his role he oversees the brand’s game improvement content spanning instruction, equipment, health and fitness, across all of GOLF’s multimedia platforms.

An alumni of the International Junior Golf Academy and the University of South Carolina–Beaufort golf team, where he helped them to No. 1 in the national NAIA rankings, Luke moved to New York in 2012 to pursue his Masters degree in Journalism from Columbia University. His work has also appeared in USA Today, Golf Digest, Newsweek and The Daily Beast.