Golf is a game where improvement comes in troughs and plateaus and this is one of the reasons is can be so frustrating. When we start out we have the belief that we will improve gradually, dropping a couple of shots at a time, a steady decrease that we can maintain with the help of practice sessions and lessons, but the harsh reality is that this is simply not the case. It also depends heavily on the scores that you are achieving.
So for those that are shooting 100+, you will stay around that mark for a while and suddenly you will achieve improved consistency, or you will your ability will improve meaning that you lose less golf balls and you will see your scores drop from 103/104 to 95.
Those that shoot between 90 and 99, will not slowly drop shot by shot into the high 80s and then gradually to the mid-80s, no, instead you will drop around 5 shots and begin to shoot 86-91, you will be happy of course but you will wonder why you can´t seem to break the 85 barrier, even though you can reach the same distance from the tee as your mates that are shooting 81-85 regularly. Then there are those that are shooting low to mid-80s, dreaming of breaking the magic mark of 80 and reach the single figure status. Your improvement would appear to be more the shot by shot method, but again it won´t. All of a sudden, your approach to the game, from a mental perspective will shift and you will have more belief in your abilities to play the game, resulting in a drop to the mid to high 70s and that single figure handicap.
And it is now that the game does become a shot by shot improvement sport. A golfer with a handicap of 15 and a golfer with a handicap of 22 have little technical difference regarding ability, their thought processes are very similar, but there is a consistency difference.
But the difference between a golfer that regularly shoots 75 and one that regularly shoots level par or better is a far greater chasm. Not only on the technical level, but also the mental level. From afar they can both strike the ball cleanly, they can both get up and down regularly and both are consistent scorers. So how come one plays 5 or so shots better than the other? I think the difference, which I wish I had figured out a lot sooner, is attitude to the game. As a scratch golfer your attitude is different, you know you have the ability to recover from a bad hole or a poor start, whereas the 5 handicapper will sow seeds of doubt after a poor start. In truth I think that this is the difference between a good scratch golfer and a professional as well.
Don´t expect a smooth ride to improvement in golf, sometimes you have to get worse before you can get better.