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This HS golfer shaved 8 strokes off his index for the year. Here is the way

After shaving more than 8 strokes off his golf handicap, the young man earned the captaincy of his high school team.

Photo by Carson Deringer

Welcome to Shaving Strokes, the series where we share the progress, lessons learned and takeaways from novice golfers like you — including the speed bumps and challenges they’ve faced along the way.

As (probably) is 40 years old, I often think about those innocent days in high school with little responsibilities and free time in the world.

There was less stress, more fun, and more time to be a kid. Man, what a time to live.

And while I don’t regret being a teenager – only a few bad decisions stand out – I wonder how much better I would be at golf today if I had spent more time taking the game more seriously. Like, if I had a time machine, I’d go back to the year 2000 and actually grind the course, work with a golf coach and make my own golf scores.

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Instead, I used to jam it out with friends because it was the thing to do, and I spent a lot of time slapping it and blowing each other’s chops – which, honestly, hasn’t changed much since then.

But one youngster who seems to be doing all the right things on the golf course is high school student Carson Deringer, who shaved more than 8 strokes off his golf handicap last year.

Deringer, a junior, was recently introduced to me by a colleague here at GOLF, who coaches his golf team. And after hearing his success story, I knew I had to hear more about his progress.

The USGA’s Handicap Rewind shows Deringer’s progress from year to year.

Photo by Carson Deringer

How this HS golfer shaved 8 strokes off his golf handicap index

Like many golfers his age, Deringer told me that he loves the game during the rough, following in the footsteps of his grandfather, who was a champion golfer.

“I’ve always played golf, mainly because my grandfather was a golfer,” he tells me. “I was a big baseball player, but after I got hit with COVID, I started to love golf. That’s when I started to love it and play more.”

But just because he loved the sport doesn’t mean he took it seriously early on. In fact, similar to my experience as a teenager, Deringer said he would just go out and have fun, regardless of his score.

“I didn’t really have a disability, as I just went out on the weekends to have fun,” he adds. “When I was keeping score, I was shooting in the low-100s.”

So how did this guy go from a triple-digit player to a mid-70s flirt? He told me a few different things that helped him in particular.

Practice net and launch monitor

Going to the driving range is great, but it can be a bad time. Also, on days when the weather is really good, it can be difficult to find a place because the center is often really full. That’s why Deringer said he asked for a practice net for Christmas a few years ago — which helped him work on his swing mechanics in the offseason.

“Yes, my parents got me a net so I could really start training in the winter,” he said. “I’ve been using that consistently for about two hours every night.

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While working on his mechanics every day has helped, introducing data to his game has been important, too. That’s why Deringer got himself a launch monitor to track some stats about his swing.

“I just got a launch monitor. It’s on the cheap side, but it still works really well,” he said. “It helps me a lot to look at my numbers and see where I need to improve.

“For example, I was struggling with my delivery angle, so I just focused on that. Just being able to have that number, review it and get a quick response is very helpful.”

Swing Adjustment

Like most golfers, making swing changes is a big part of improving – and Deringer is no different. In fact, he told me the three changes that helped him the most in his journey from a player who shoots in the 100s to someone who often breaks 80.

“Changing my grip helped me a lot. “I used to grip the baseball but now I use the interlock grip,” he said. “I also worked a lot with a lot of rotation, making sure my tempo is right.

“To practice my back-and-forth swings, I visualize throwing my belt directly at the target as hard as I can, which has helped me a lot.”

Dialing in his placement

By dialing in his stroke placement, Deringer says he has accelerated his progress.

Photo by Carson Deringer

I’ve always said that putting is the best measure in golf, and Deringer agreed. That’s why he told me that this is the area that most affected his development, it all started with the area of ​​his head when he had a stroke.

“A family friend of mine had this meter in his house, and there was a line down the middle, and you want to line your eyes with that,” he told me. “When I used it for the first time, my head was like that way over the line, so I knew I needed to match it to the line to make sure it went through the ball fully.

“One mistake I had was raising my head too much when I was putting. You might think it’s not important to keep your head down during a stroke, but it really made a difference in my results when I focused on doing that.”

So what’s a typical practice session like for him? Deringer said it involves a lot of putting.

“When I go out to the range, I focus more on putting,” he tells me. “I do an hour in the area, but my main focus is to set up and record. With that, I focus on controlling distance on both short and long putts, as well as my aim.

“I work from tee to tee, I spend most of my time on short putts – as those are the most important ones you have to make. I try to minimize three putts as much as possible because those are killers.”

Competing with better players

It’s no surprise to hear Deringer say that playing against better competition has pushed his game – as there’s a lot to learn from watching the best golfers. That is why he made it clear that he will play in as many tournaments as possible.

“My goal is to play D1 golf,” he tells me. “To achieve that, I will go out and train in all parts of my game and play in tournaments, which has helped my game a lot. Just playing with people who are better than me, seeing how they do things.”

Two things that stand out are how these other players learn the greens and where they miss shots.

Deringer says he now studies the green from all different angles, rather than just behind the ball.

Photo by Carson Deringer

“I’m learning how people read vegetables, and how they look at both sides of the aisle,” he adds. “I used to only watch it from behind the ball, but when I started watching it from both sides and from the hole, it led to me making more putts.

“One thing I learned from watching the best players is that they miss the ball. Because you don’t want to miss a shot where it’s going to put you in danger, you want to miss it in a place where you’re going to be safe and be able to step up – and give yourself two putts.”

His advice to other novices?

Finally, as a middleweight trying to break 80, I had to know what advice Deringer had for players like me. Without hesitation he said it was all about the short game.

“The short game has reduced as many strokes as possible in my game, more than my long game,” he said. “And that’s what I think people have to work hard at if they’re serious about making rapid progress.”

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