Golfers sometimes get worse the more they play, regressing further with each tee shot or swing of the club! This is a common complaint I hear from the golfing community, but what exactly is going on? In this article, we will discuss possible reasons why this may be happening. If you have been slamming the practice but your handicap is still going up, please read on 🙂 We may be your guardian golfing angel 🙂
In short, getting good at golf isn’t only about the amount of time you practice. It’s about the quality and thought behind that practice, coupled with a positive mindset. This is when you are most likely to get into our golfing flow and perform better!
Now let’s dive into the finer details of this complex issue….
Why You May Still Suck at Golf After Daily Practice?
Most people that play golf (or pretty much any sport for that matter!) assume that if they commit to a heavy regime of practice that they are almost guaranteed to get better. Although this might be the case for some, a lot of people still suck and this results in frustration and even anxiety. Especially if you are striving to beat that golf buddy that keeps teasing you 🙂 Why might this be?
Lack of Focus
Practice is important. Talk to pretty much any pro sports person and they will tell you that this is the cornerstone of their success. Although the key here is that the quality of the practice needs to be good. If you are practicing for hours with very little focus, purpose, or strategy, you are less likely to get results. Why do you think most pro sports people also employ coaches? If it was easy, they would do everything alone, but they need a coach to make sure they are doing things right.
Golf is a very psychological based game, and if you don’t have the mental side of your golf game down, then you are likely to find practice sessions unproductive. Every time you hit a bad shot, you will try to change up your swing or your stance due to the latest golf fad you read in a golfing magazine or something. This leads to a constantly changing and shifting golf style that doesn’t settle long enough to find success!
A lot of golfers suffer from over analysis or ‘paralysis by analysis’ in their golf practice. It is so easy these days to find golfing tips online, golf coaching online, gadgets (such as laser aiming devices you strap to your clubs) that claim to improve your game etc. etc. I could go on. With all this information out there, it is tempting to become a student of the game and try to take on too many tips at any one time. It leads to you constantly changing different parts of your golfing technique or focusing too much on the technique rather than the ‘golfing flow’.
This is not just a problem that happens to amateur golfers either. There are many pro golfers that have hit hard times and have failed to get back to their prime due to over-analysis. Even Tiger Woods, one of the world’s best ever golfers and superstar in the space, suffered for many years due to this problem. He had been unstoppable in the first part of his career and had then seen his form drop. In a bid to get back to the glory days, he spent many years changing this or that about his game. If it can happen to a great like Tiger Woods, it can 100% happen to you 🙂
I have seen many golfers in my time whose form has spiralled downwards due to an undue amount of negativity in their game. They hit a bad shot and start dwelling on negative thoughts about that shot. This then in turn effects the next shot they take, hence why their game spirals downwards. It’s far easier to get stuck in a rut with negativity than to be positive, so many players choose the former (whether they consciously realize it or not!)
9 Ways to Improve Your Golf Practice Regime?
1. Have a Plan
A lot of people have a mix of ideas running through their brain as they practice. Make sure this is not you! I would recommend you do consult your local golf club pro and take at least a few lessons with him or her. Make sure to ask them about good practice routines and use these as a basis for the structure of your practice sessions. If you don’t fancy the outlay on a golf pro to teach you, it is possible to glean similar information online. Just make sure it comes from a reputable source. When your practice sessions have structure to them, they should be way more productive.
2. Make Short-Term Goals
Many golfers have complex and longer-term goals in mind for their golf game. It is important that you can break these down into shorter term goals that are more manageable and (more importantly) achievable. A lofty long-term goal will leave you scrambling around trying to figure out how to get there. It is far better to set a series of short-term goals along the way to your longer term vision for your game. Again, if you are struggling with this, I would simply contact the pro at whatever golf club you play at.
3. Find a Style and Stick to It!
You can be a student of the golf game at the beginning of your journey and decide on a style of golf (and related technique) that you think will set yourself up for success. Use this as the basis for your golf game and stick to it. Do not change your style every time you hit a bad shot or have a bad round. These things take time to embed and improve, which becomes impossible if you keep chopping and changing around. Give it at least a year of solid practice with this style/method before you decide that it is not working and start the process with a new style.
4. Focus on the Positive
As I say many, many times, golf is often all in the mind. A lot of players get bogged down in negative thoughts and it ends up ruining their game. There are several visualization techniques I use that help me a lot here. After hitting a bad shot, instead of cursing myself out, I will immediately replace those negative thoughts with positive ones. I will quickly blot those negative thoughts out of my mind and replace it with a visualization of me hitting the shot perfectly, in turn replacing those negative thoughts with positive ones. I find this helps a lot, and it has become a part of my golf game.
5. Lower Your Mental Checklist
A lot of golfers talk about having a mental checklist when playing golf. For example, they may have some key tips they try to remember when swinging a golf club or taking a specific type of shot. The problem is that these can get bloated over time with every little piece of golfing advice or tips you have heard! Try to keep your mental checklist down to one or two key points, lessening the mental burden and stress as you play. Otherwise, you are likely to get lost in the weeds of confusion 🙂
6. Enjoy Yourself
Try to loosen up and focus on enjoying your golf more, rather than analyzing every small thing that you do! It is so easy to track a million and one stats about your game these days, and many golfers do. However, I would say go easy on the statistics as you could end up doing more harm than good. If you insist on looking at stats of your game, make sure to only do it once a month and be balanced in your analysis (I know it’s easier said that done!). Enjoying your golf is the starting point for success! You are far more likely to get in a good groove this way rather than always being uptight and super critical (trust me, I’ve been there and got the t-shirt!). Golf is one of the hardest sports to play well all the time, so don’t beat yourself up too much if you hit some patchy form!
7. Take Up Yoga!
Most people think I am going crazy when I tell them to take up yoga as a golfer, but trust me it can make a massive difference to your ability to play golf. There is so much flexibility and balance required in a solid golf swing, and yoga is a great way to build this. With a quick search online, you will find a multitude of yoga poses specifically designed for golfers. What have you got to lose?
8. Short and Sharp Sessions
A lot of people associate golfing practice with long and gruelling sessions at a golf course or driving range. In moderation, this can of course be very helpful. But I would also recommend adding to this some short and sharp practice sessions for a complete regime. You could get a putting mat at home and use it for fifteen minutes before bedtime each day. You could buy a series of full-length mirrors (and tell your wife they are for her to endlessly gaze at her makeup), using them to do swing practice in front of each night for five to ten minutes. Watch your form as you swing and think of those key items on your mental checklist you want to achieve. A balanced practice regime is far more likely to get positive results.
9. Don’t Worry How You Look!
When a golfers game starts to go ‘down the pan’, they often start thinking about what an idiot they must look in front of all these other golfers. This way of thinking will only add pressure to your game and probably lead to a continued spiral downward in form. Instead, brush off any bad shots and remind yourself that even pro golfers can have a bad day at the office. Think positive thoughts (in short!).
And if Nothing Helps?
If you have taken on all my advice for an extended period of time and your golf game still sucks, it must be time to take a break. Don’t play golf for a while and focus on other sports or activities that bring you joy. There is more to life than golf, right? Come back a month or two later with a refreshed attitude and increased desire to play golf (and if that doesn’t happen after a few months away, I think it’s time to find a new sport!!).