What Stops Most Club Players Getting Better?

In this article I’ll share my thoughts as to what stops most club players getting better. These ideas come from 15 years of coaching and the mistakes I made growing up trying to become an elite player. The good news is that they all have pretty simple fixes.

Enjoy.

#1 Club players not having a clear practice plan

Many golfers who are on the quest to get better build an empty performance shell. They do all the things that, from the outside, look like they are working hard, but their practice often lacks substance.

Practicing backswing drills on the range for 4 hours a week may make you feel good, but you do have to question if it will really improve your scoring. Effective practice should consider the following points:

Focus on core skills

Golf can seem complicated, but at the end of the day you have to hit the ball straight-ish and a good distance off the tee, get the ball on or close to the green and then get the ball in the hole. Ensure your weekly practice is targeting these core skills and focus on the points that matter: distance, accuracy and consistency a.k.a. improving your proximity to the hole.

Develop your weaknesses

What is the weakest area of your game and how much time do you invest into improving it each week? Many golfers spend less than 5% of practice time on their weaknesses – no wonder they carry on being weaknesses.

A small, but focused amount of work over 8 – 12 weeks can really improve a weaker area of your game and your overall scoring.

Practicing skills related to scoring

Based on strokes gained data we know that not all shots are created equal. Hitting your 7-iron to 18-feet rather than 25-feet may make you feel better as a player, but based on putting conversion stats it is unlikely to change your scoring.

Whereas, improving your proximity to the hole from 50 – 120-yards from 14-feet to 7-feet will have a considerable impact on scoring. Ensure your weekly practice dials in on the areas that matter.

#2 Working on technical aspects you think are important

The classic example I see is the golfer who spends a disproportionate amount of time trying to make their swing look like a top golfer.

“Adam Scott hits the ball phenomenally, so surely if I make my swing look similar I will too?”

Sadly, swing positions don’t move the golf ball, forces do. Making your swing look the same as Adam Scott is missing the point, it is the forces he consistently generates through impact that makes him world-class.

When you are working on your swing mechanics ask the following questions:

  • Will this make me hit the ball straighter?
  • Will this make me hit the ball further?
  • Will this reduce my shot dispersion?

If the answer to all three points is no, or a very tenuous yes, you are probably best to switch your focus and avoid going down a golfing mechanics rabbit hole (we’ve all been there).

#3 Thinking that hitting it perfect on the range is the answer to playing perfect golf on the course

This is a personal favourite of mine, as it is exactly what I did from the age of 16 to 18. My swing looked better and better every month, my good shots were better in practice and my scores got worse and worse.

A great golf swing requires repetition without repetition. I’ll try to explain – you are looking to repeat a consistent shot outcome, but to do so on the golf course, your body has to make hundreds of tiny adjustments to your swing.

  • The ball is above your feet
  • The wind is into off the left
  • Your body is more fatigued by the 14th hole

All of these changing constraints require your body to subtly change your coordination pattern in order to square up the club face and hit the ball to your target. A different movement pattern is required for every shot in order to stabilise the outcome.

The only way to develop this skill is to play golf on the golf course.

Use practice as a stable learning environment and get your swing working, but then head out and play golf. Measure how good your current technique is by how well you hit the golf ball in on the course, not how well you hit it in practice.

#4 Not investing in coaching and practice to develop pitching, chipping and putting technique

It is a long title, but one that is very well worth writing. When golfers have a slice, or the shanks, they are swift to get a lesson and find out what is wrong in their swing. However, far too often golfers report – “I’m just a streaky putting” or “I haven’t got the touch I used to have around the greens”.

I don’t know why we have developed this rhetoric in golf, but from my experience coaching amateur and professional players I am yet to meet one of these golfers who doesn’t have a very simple mechanical flaw causing their issue.

Poor chipping setup, flicky wrists and a poor putting grip are the top three issues I frequently come across, but there are many. The great news is that these issues have very simple fixes and provide near instant results, so please don’t neglect them!

Summary

I hope this article has given you food for thought and something to reflect on as you go on your golfing quest. These traits are common among players of all standards, but all can be fixed with some simple changes.

Take a moment to consider if any apply to you and what you can do to fix them.

Happy golfing – Will @ Golf Insider UK

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A PGA golf professional, with a PhD in Biomedical Science and MSc in Sports Biomechanics & Psychology. I currently spend my time lecturing part-time at Leeds Beckett University and working with elite athletes. In my spare time I build Golf Insider UK.

1 thought on “What Stops Most Club Players Getting Better?”

  1. Such a true article. Ultimately it’s about the club face connection, not what it looks like.
    It can be confusing working out what to work on each week.
    I highly recommend getting a coach to look over your game and practice routines, 28 or plus handicap, you will see the difference.
    Thanks, Will.

    Matt

    Reply

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