Golf is a complicated and sometimes cruel game. It’s easy to feel defeated and discouraged, but don’t worry, we’re all stuck together!
To prove it, I asked members of our Facebook group How To Hit Every Shot, a game improvement group that you can join here for free, a simple question: What’s the biggest mistake that’s holding you back? Here is what they said about them along with a few notes from me.
1. ‘Not bringing enough clubs’
Not taking enough clubs with you is a classic problem for recreational golfers. Amateurs tend to miss out about 70 percent of the time, and while some of this is due to inconsistent contacts, a lot of it is poor decision-making too.
“I have to take an extra club and swing it easily at a good pace.” says Rex Baumgartner. “I have to stop the ‘I’m just hitting a hard 8’ shot.”
2. “Confidence to finish a round”
It’s ironic that when things go well on the golf course, we do things differently than what got us up to then. Professionals talk a lot about boring things: taking one shot at a time, staying in the moment, focusing on your routine. The same should be true for the rest of us. Forget the scorecard and try to record them one by one.
This was the most popular comment on the thread: thinking too much, thinking too much, whatever you like to call it. It’s easier said than done, but the key is to reduce things to their simplest form. Or just try a different route:
“I have a beer so I don’t think too much,” says Joel Kanunu.
4. “Green reading”
An easy way is to improve your greens reading by investing in an app like our subsidiary GolfLogix that will help you read the greens the same way professionals do. That being said, one easy way to improve your green reading is to look for the high points. Where is the highest point on the green and where is it along the line of your putt?
5. ‘Bad time’
Fast is fine, but you want a steady speed. Especially in transition, when you have completely finished your backswing and started your downswing. If you rush this part of your swing, you will have trouble keeping the ball in play.
6. “Being too hard on myself”
Golf is a game to be enjoyed! It’s okay to get mad as long as you remove it from your system quickly. Don’t let it wait and don’t let it bother your gaming partners – don’t be that guy.
7. ‘Bad grip and basics’
This really is such an important mistake to avoid, especially for beginners. If you have poor fundamentals, your golf swing will be wrong-footed and it can take years of hard work to correct it. Pay attention to your grip, posture, posture and alignment (more on that later) and you will thank yourself later.
8. “Frenzied warm-up”
GOLF Top 100 teacher Justin Parsons told me something interesting a few days ago that applies here: “Most golfers,” he said, “are better off stretching 10 minutes before their round than hitting golf balls.”
And he’s right.
9. “Playing the wrong tees”
Hit it forward, there’s no shame! The only shame is being the guy who is obviously playing from the wrong tees, not having fun and slowing the pace of play for the rest of us.
10. ‘Swing on the back swing’
Swing is bad news for your golf swing as it moves around the bottom of your swing. Sometimes you hit behind the ball. Other times, ahead. That way, you won’t be able to get sharp, consistent shots.
Here’s a drill to help with this.
11. ‘Don’t commit to the shot’
What does “obligation” mean for the shot? It means making a decision and not questioning it. If you are unsure of the club or shot you selected, start over. But when you have made your choice, it is time.
Aiming incorrectly can also have a terrible effect on your golf swing. You will begin to compensate without even realizing it. Develop a pre-shot routine, use a stopover, and throw an alignment stick on the floor when you’re at the shooting range.
13. “Leave putts short”
For most golfers, renowned putt guru Phil Kenyon says that the 5 to 15 foot putts should be the most commonly practiced. You get the best of both worlds: Practice your distance control while doing putts online.
14. ‘Staying Back’
The opposite of gliding, shifting your weight forward on the downswing, is critical to good strokes – and it happens sooner than you think.
15. “Don’t stay with the shot”
Keeping your head down is generally considered to be pretty bad advice, but as with anything, there is some truth to it. Instead of “keeping your head down”, it’s better to follow the golden rule: to get the ball up in the air, you have to hit the ground.
Luke Kerr-Dineen is the Game Improvement Editor for GOLF Magazine and GOLF.com. In his role, he oversees all of the brand’s service journalism in the areas of teaching, equipment, health and fitness on 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 put them at number 1 on the national NAIA rankings, Luke moved to New York in 2012 to do his Masters in Journalism from Columbia University and was named in 2017 “Rising Star” of the News Media Alliance. His work has also appeared in USA Today, Golf Digest, Newsweek, and The Daily Beast.