Why You Are Not Improving
I have been playing golf for over 50 years and coaching golf for nearly 20. Of course I have seen players improve but I have seen many many more who fail to improve, in spite of their efforts. In my experience, here are the main stumbling blocks to improvement.
1. UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS
I often say that golf is not hard…good golf is hard… great golf is really hard. Golfers are led to believe that the game is easy and by following a few tips from their friends, or magazines or online videos, that they can begin to play good golf. Look, golf is a very hard game with a steep learning curve. Golfers who fail to understand and accept this fact often get frustrated when their performance does not meet their expectations. This leads them on an emotional roller coaster the negatively affects their ability to perform.
RECOMMENDATION: Try to be more realistic about your skills which will make your time on the golf course more enjoyable, less frustrating and increase the likelihood that you will actually improve over time.
2. MISAPPLICATION OF LOGIC
The nature of the game of golf is that it appears to be illogical unless you have a clear understanding of the principles under which it operates. One of the best examples I can think is that golfers are often told after hitting a thin shot that they “looked up” and if they just stopped looking up and kept their eye on the ball that they would hit the ball more solid. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Although students in the Studio hit thin shots on a regular basis, the cause is almost never “looking up”. Applying simple common logic often results in undesired outcomes.
RECOMMENDATION: This one is difficult because telling someone to not be logical – well just doesn’t see logical. Best idea is to not assume that you know why a specific outcome occurred.
3. TREATMENT OF SYMPTOMS VERSUS ROOT PROBLEMS
A players attention is commonly drawn to correction of the symptom rather than the elimination of the underlying root problem. I see this on a daily basis in the Studio as a student typically follows up a shot that goes too far to the right with a shot that goes too far to the left. This process just compounds the original problem, further complicating the swing making it even more difficult to clear up the true root problem.
RECOMMENDATION: Seek help from a competent professional who can first diagnose the problem(s) and then offer a proper course of treatment. And yes, you should then follow the advice that was provided.
4. FOLLOWING THE WRONG DIRECTIONS ( BAD MAP )
I am constantly impressed with how well golfers execute what they are trying to do whether it is a “one piece takeaway” or “keep your elbow close to your side in the backswing” or “swing toward right field and then roll your wrists”. And with each of these motions the player hits poor shots or fails to improve. The problem isn’t the players inability to follow directions, it’s that the directions are bad. Imagine that you are using a map to get to a specific destination and you follow the directions exactly but fail to arrive at your intended destination. This doesn’t make you a poor driver, but rather you had a bad map.
All golfers have a “map” that they rely on for their golf swing. This “map” is a combination of what they have been told, what they have heard, what they have read, what they have observed, and finally what they have discovered on their own. In essence then the “map” is composed of what the player believes to be true. The problem is when the map is bad, the player doesn’t end up where they intended.
RECOMMENDATION: If you are making the same mistakes despite closely following the direction in your “map”, it might be time to seek help from a competent professional who can help you update your “map” and get you closer to your destination.
5. POOR STRATEGY
In most cases, players are very good at establishing goals. The greater challenge is in developing a suitable game plan that allows the player to reach their goals. Players may believe that the best way to fix their slice is to spend more time playing friendly competitions on the course. Or they may believe the best option for learning to score is to practice 3 to 6 foot putts on the practice green. With an incorrect or inefficient strategy, improvement will be limited.
RECOMMENDATION: With help from a competent professional, prepare a plan that includes realistic goals and then develop strategies that address those areas of your game that must be improved to reach your goals.
6. LACK OF PATIENCE
As I already said, golf is hard – believe it. Golf is a game for a lifetime because you can play it your entire lifetime and it takes an entire lifetime to learn how to play it. Students that fail to realize this fact get frustrated and when this happens, learning and motivation and improvement come to a screeching halt.
RECOMMENDATION: The best strategy is to accept the fact that learning golf takes a long time. Think of your career and the years that it took you to become proficient. If you continue to learn, apply what you have learned and remained committed to gradual improvement, you will be rewarded with skills that grow over time which will lead to more enjoyment on the golf course.