If you ask any golfer what they need to do to get better, they will reply with – “I need to become more consistent”. However, this problem of consistency never goes away, golfers at every level of the game are searching to become more consistent.
A complete beginner is capable of having a hole in one, but their next attempt is not likely to be so close. A touring pro can shoot -8 but might follow it up with +4 in their second round.
In this article we’ll cover what you can expect as you move through your golfing journey from beginner to scratch, and possibly to a professional standard. This is how consistency remains the issue you will battle with through your golfing journey.
Consistent golf – Beginners
As a beginner golfer, your biggest issue is a consistent strike. You can make contact and hit great golf shots, but why do you thin and fat iron shots. As this linked article will explain, the key here is a great set-up and a good understanding of how to hit iron shots.
There are many other factors of inconsistency that you will face. Such as chip shots and putting, but the ability to consistently hit the ball up in the air and generally forwards is the biggest problem standing in front of you.
Consistent golf – Getting down to below 20 handicap
In this step of your golfing journey, you can do it, just not every time. You can hit great drives, crisp iron shots, great chips and hole putts. However, you don’t have the consistency over 18 holes.
Off the tee your misses are often too wild, you still (unfortunately) can fat and thin simple iron shots, and your short game and putting can let you down. You hole putts, but you are by no means deadly inside 6-feet.
The key at this stage is to refine your strike and make your misses less wild. Focus on building a great golf grip and stance, this will help you control your club as you hit the golf ball. Secondly, invest time into pitching and chipping practice. This will obviously improve your short game, but it will also help you improve your ball striking for your iron shots. Pitching is a great way to learn how to strike great iron shots.
Consistent golf – 19 to 10 handicap
At this point, you generally can get a golf ball around a course and execute most golf shots well. Your misses are less wild than the category above, but they still need some refinement. You need to keep working on your golf grip and golf posture. Also, take time to learn about ball flight and how changing your swing will affect ball flight.
Short game and putting will need refinement, moving from a high teens to a low teens handicap can be entirely done with better putting and chipping. Aim to build a great putting grip and find some great chipping drills to help you on your way.
This is also the time to re-think your golf course management – how is it best for you to navigate each hole?
This entire stage is about turning those double bogeys into single bogeys and single bogeys into par saves.
Consistent golf – Single figures to scratch
I’ve written another article on how to become a scratch golfer – check it out for more info. What follows is the high-level picture. At this stage, your aim is to give yourself a birdie chance on every hole. Not birdie every hole, but plan to have a birdie putt.
Your misses will need to become more refined. This article on golf swing drills from Justin Rose and Tommy Fleetwood will give you an insight into how to minimise misses.
If you can’t hit the ball over 245 yards off the tee, you will find this part of the journey hard, it is still possible, but you need to become excellent in other areas. You can looking into your golf fitness, but most times I would recommend finding a great PGA pro to help your build a more effective golf swing to generate more clubhead speed.
Consistent golf – Scratch to mini-tour pro / +3 handicap
This is the last stage I personally completed in my golfing journey (to date). How do you move from a scratch to a +3 player? The answer is becoming exceptionally boring to watch. Impressive, but really repetitive. At this stage, you can shoot under par, but you can also shoot 5 over par. Your aim is to shift your game so that you can shoot -7/8 and rarely shoot more than +2.
Your performance aim is to hit lots of fairways and ensure 95% of your tee shots allow you to get to the green – destructive shots are your mortal enemy. From here, hit greens and lots of them, if you have a wedge in hand you need to be dialled in with your distance control and give yourself many putts inside 12 feet.
Course strategy should be tailored to your strengths, and executing on par 5’s is often the difference between tournament wins and top 15. At this stage, long game affects how high your scores will be and short game affects how low your scores can go.
Consistent golf – Mini-tour to the European / PGA Tour
At this stage you have the ability to shoot -6 to -8 on a golf course you’ve only played once, but how frequently can you do it? As this score suggests, your game needs to be capable of making 6 or more birdies a round, and to keep the mistakes off your card.
This is where you realise the gulf between a scratch player at your local course and someone who is just about earning a living from playing professionally.
To move from the mini-tours on to the main tour all parts of your game need to be sound, and the spread of your shots (ball dispersion) needs to be compact and consistent. This ensures you make very few bogeys. To generate six birdies a round you really require a strength – great distance, exceptional wedge play or being deadly on the greens.
On top of being able to do it (perform) you’ll spend half your life on the road spending money you don’t yet have and will encounter many times that aren’t fun – developing your golf psychology and generally looking after yourself become a golfing foundation.
You have 10 – 15 events a year, and a wild fling at Q school – how consistent can you get at shooting -2 to -8 every time you tee it up? Most events are 3 to 4 rounds and rarely will you win with a score worse than -10.
If you make it through this stage you deserve your golden ticket to the big leagues.
Tour player to Major champion
I don’t have the audacity to write this section. However, if you are reading this I’m happy for you to kindly share this article on Twitter and ask someone who has the calibre to share their experiences.
If we get Tiger Woods replying we’ll have to create a new section of – Major champion to Golfing God.
As you can see, consistency is always the issue you will face as a golfer. The type of consistency required keeps changing, but the desire to become more consistent will never go away. I hope you’ve enjoyed this article and it has helped you prepare for what lies ahead.
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Happy golfing – Will @ Golf Insider
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