Phew - set a new personal best last week = 71 (one under par, a -1.2 differential on the handicap). My previous best ever was 74 (done twice) and my lowest this year prior to this was 77. Someone asked me how I did it (e.g. driver, short game, putting) and I could only answer "sheer will". My normal golf game is that I don't know what my ball flight is going to be until I hit the range , one aspect of my game is usually very good and one aspect is usually unusually bad and I sprinkle in a random assortment of common stupid errors. For my career best round, all aspects of the game were pretty mediocre until my putter got hot on the back nine, but what I mostly remember was calculating what I had to do to just get a good number for the day, then mentally resetting and just playing it one hole at a time knowing that I could afford a screw up. Each screw up I made (e.g. greenside bunker, missed fairway) I was able to recover from and get par. What was weird was that each recovery seemed how hum at the time and then seemed like a miracle afterward. What was really weird was how tired I was after I was done. Keeping that intense level of focus that I had through the back nine took a lot of me. For my previous low rounds I remember feeling a sense of freedom. Everything just came easy (Ernie Els style). This was different and of course I want to figure out how to replicate the experience.
Of course, the rounds I've played since have been back to normal. Sooner or later I manage to put a couple doubles on the card via penalty strokes, 3 putting, or just simply not being able to execute whatever shots I've planned to hit that I would normally get right 95 out of 100 times. I can feel stretches where the pars come via autopilot, but I can't get a whole round in. I can't just "throw the switch" and get the magic back. I'm sensing that this is "the thing" I need to conquer to move my 6-8 handicap range to the 2-3 level. I track my stats for fairways hit, GIR, putts, etc. I've been focused on doing things to eliminate the contributors to bad stats, It feels like this effort has opened the door to allow me to go to the next level and apply sheer will to go lower. When I caddied for the USGA amatuer qualifier this summer (2 days), all the guys in our groups played like this. Last summer I tried playing from the red tees (to help feel the "go low" experience, but none of my lay up or bomb it gambles paid off. Two of the guys I play with regularly on the weekends are 2-3 handicappers.
So my questions are:
Am I on the right track?
Any tips from those who've been there?
What have you done to "go low"?