Lower the handicap, limit the blowup holes and more: Our staff’s golfy resolutions for 2020

December 31, 2019

If you need a New Year’s resolution for the golf course, maybe our staff brainstorm can point you in the right direction. Here’s what GOLF staffers are looking to change about their own games in 2020.

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Carry fewer clubs. Play faster. Polish white shoes with white polish and brown shoes with brown. See if that helps.
— Michael Bamberger

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To stop tinkering around with different putters. I have a bad habit of cycling through putters at a maddening pace, always looking for that magic bullet that will eliminate my three-putts and make more birdies. A round with this one, a round with that one. I’ve done it my entire life, but it hit overdrive once I became a part of the golf industry, where beautiful putters are constantly floating around my orbit. But no more. In 2020, I’m here to commit. I got fit for a putter late in 2019, and that’s the one I’m sticking with, good or bad. I won’t be tempted by the easy way out; if I have a bad day, it’s time to work on the stroke. As they say: it’s not the arrow, it’s the archer. — Luke Kerr-Dineen

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I spent the second half of 2019 pregnant with my second baby (and still have two months to go!), so my golf has been sadly limited — and will likely remain so for the next several months. But my 2020 resolution is not for myself, but instead for my firstborn daughter, who will turn 4 this summer. Though she’s shown loads of interest in learning more about the game, we haven’t yet taken it beyond hockey-style strikes with a set of plastic clubs and balls in the backyard. My husband and I have long discussed purchasing a net that would enable all of us to take full swings, and I think this is the year we’ll finally take the plunge and upgrade those plastic sticks to some properly fitted composite shafts. I can’t wait! — Jessica Marksbury

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Dial in that wedge game! As a guy who lives in the city and doesn’t own a car and has a child under 2 years, I just don’t play as much golf as I’d like these days, and that means my short game and feel really suffers. But I’m gonna take care of that this winter/spring. I was long overdue for a wedge upgrade so I just subbed in a pair of Callaway Mack Daddy 4 wedges, and now I’m going to make it a point to find a way to zero them in weekly. (OK, maybe every other week.) Either way I’m gonna put the time in and stop missing all those greens in regulation. — Josh Berhow

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To truly straighten out my swing path. I’m a 9 handicap, with the length of a 4 but the accuracy of a 15. The issue is my path. George Gankas showed me all the shortcuts I was taking in my backswing and how they were leading to a half-cut, half-slice. I will be grinding in the spring to make a consistently straight takeaway, and the handicap might struggle initially as a result. —Sean Zak

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Get more flexible! As much as I enjoy the company of my NYC office colleagues, I spend a lot of time sitting and typing — not conducive to ripping drivers. I’ve got yoga and stretching on the to-do list for the New Year to maintain some speed so I can keep up with Zak. —Dylan Dethier

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To avoid blowup holes. My typical round lately has been a couple of birdies, a bunch of nice pars, some decent bogeys … and a handful of double bogeys that kill my score and morale. Course management is a big part of it: resist the urge to bash driver on every hole, don’t aim at every flag, and some basic stuff like that which somehow continues to elude me. Also focusing on tempo — it’s hard to hit a really bad shot when you have good rhythm. All of this sounds so simple … if only it was. —Alan Shipnuck

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This is the year I become a single-digit handicap. I’ve been on the brink before, getting down to a 10 at one point several years ago, but never to that sacred single digit. I’m going to actually invest in some serious practice time — yes, practice — and maybe even some lessons to see if I can finally get over the hump. I’m ready to do whatever it takes. —Tim Reilly

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Peg it more. Yeah, I know everyone says that, but with a foursome of little(ish) ones at home, I’ve been playing about as much golf as 2016 Tiger. With my 7-year-old starting to find his swing (and not yet mortified to hang with his old man), I’m hopeful that development translates into more of my own swings next summer. I’m also keen to get fit for irons (T. Reilly inspired me!), so I can stop blaming my aging equipment for my endless shortcomings. At least for a week or two. —Alan Bastable

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Establish an official handicap. I was going to say play more golf, but I don’t want to step on the toes of my editor. Playing more rounds is inherent in this goal, as is signing up on the USGA’s GIHN website. And because the handicap system is changing the first week of January 2020, it will be easier than ever to get one. I’ll only need to play three full rounds or six nine-hole rounds to establish one. —Rachel Bleier

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Start carrying more golf balls when I play. During my halcyon days as a scratch golfer in college, I could make it around the course unscathed without losing a pellet. Then I got married, welcomed some kids into the world and my schedule started to fill up in a big way. Newsflash: I am no longer a scratch golfer. I have a million golf balls laying around my office, so I have no excuse when it comes to following through on this resolution. I’m going to start dumping a box in the bag and dealing with the additional weight when I carry my sticks. It’s that or continually traipsing through the woods in search of a reload — and I’m getting tired of spending more time in the trees than the short grass. —Jonathan Wall

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