In the summer of 2006-07, I played off a 6-handicap. I played and practiced consistently, and then winter arrived, which was also rugby season.
I didn’t touch a golf club for 4-months, and in my first round back, I lost a matchplay-Stableford game against a 24-handicapper. I could not hit a ball and asked myself why I suck at golf?
The answer was a combination of factors. I neglected the game and stopped practicing. In addition, I was stressed and anxious about my final high school exams. In this post, I will explain why this wondrous game is not going your way.
1. You’ve Never Had a Lesson
The top reason why many amateurs downright suck at golf is that they never received the correct guidance. It is common for players to take up the game because their buddies play. Unfortunately, many of their friends are as clueless as them and have no business instructing others.
This causes rookies to pick up bad habits from the get-go and results in consistently bad shots and frustration. Rather than chase your tail, book a lesson with a PGA-certified instructor to avoid common mistakes. It also makes sense to do it right rather than play the game for years and never progress.
Coaching teaches you to correct mistakes in your golf shots on your own accord. This takes time, and it is why lessons are an investment.
Think of it like school. You cannot become a lawyer or doctor without going to college. Well, you cannot reach the ranks of a scratch golfer if you do not have the guidance of professionals.
2. You Never Visit The Driving Range
If you have received lessons in your life but still struggle to play golf, you may lack practice. This game is not like riding a bike. When you stop swinging a club and putting in the time, the results are disastrous upon return. An area I am well-versed in.
You need to consistently work on every element of your game to see improvement. I understand that most of our readers are busy professionals who lack time to sneak in an hour or 2 practice session. However, you need to make time if you wish to lower your total strokes.
Those with limited time may consider a golf simulator. This setup allows you to work on your ball-striking consistency after work from the comfort of your home. The point is that no matter where you are, you need to consistently practice to see results.
3. Your Practice Sessions Have No Purpose
Besides practicing, you need to do it with a purpose. I recently spoke to Scottish golf coach Peter Arnott about practicing with intent and how that sets Tiger Woods apart from the rest of his peers.
Instead of aimlessly hitting golf balls, Tiger would look to replicate scenarios he may encounter on the golf course. Arnott explained that Woods would pull out a rangefinder, pick his mark and then play different shots to get the ball to that exact point.
For example, he would picture a tree in front of him and draw the ball within a few feet of the desired target. Conversely, he would practice fades, stingers, and punches to prepare for any shot necessary.
This story is relevant to you because most amateurs do not have a goal when conducting a drill at the range. This means that they walk away from the practice session unaware of whether they have improved and were able to achieve their objective.
Work on specifics. A simple start could be to hit 60% of your shots straight. Focus on squaring your club face up at impact to deliver straighter shots. If you do not achieve your objective, conduct a debrief to understand the errors.
4. You’re Using The Wrong Equipment
A major issue that I find with amateurs who have never been coached is their golf clubs. Because they never received the guidance of an expert, they are swinging the incorrect specs.
I often notice casual golfers using shafts too stiff and heavy for their swing. This reduces their clubhead speed and causes low ball flight and a loss of distance.
Conversely, faster swingers use shafts that are too flexible. As a result, these golfers consistently balloon their shots and lose distance through the bag.
Aside from shaft flex and weight, lofts are a sore point for casual golfers. If you are swinging a weak lofted club for your swing, you may launch it high and lose total distance. Contrarily, slower swing speeds are best suited to weaker lofted long irons and woods. These players need all the ball speed and available spin to achieve consistency in this area.
Golf influencers are divided on the value offered by club fitters. However, I suggest getting fitted for your first clubs. This is because you are likely clueless about the ideal specs for your game, and you do not want to waste money on the wrong gear.
Club fitters will set you up on a launch monitor and analyze every element of your swing to find suitable woods, irons, wedges, and a putter.
5. Your Grip Is Incorrect
I have spoken frequently about the need to consistently work on your game to stay on the fairway. Now, let us look at your actual setup and swing. The way you grip a golf club impacts your control. If your grip is too tight, it often prompts golfers to strike the ball with a closed clubface, leading to a hooked golf shot.
Conversely, a weak grip can cause your clubface to open at contact, prompting a slice. If this is your issue, our guide on 8 simple steps to a better golf grip will provide the necessary inspiration. Nevertheless, I will give a brief rundown below.
There are three predominant grip setups, the baseball, interlock, and overlap.
I use a baseball grip and have done it for 28-years. In essence, this type of grip features all 10-fingers touching the rubber portion of your golf clubs. Every coach I have ever had has attempted to change this, but the other grips feel uncomfortable.
6-time Open Championship winner Harold Vardon pioneered the overlap grip. It is the most common grip among amateurs and professionals. Right-handers need to wrest their pinky on the knuckle of their left hand. If that is uncomfortable, you can try placing your pinky in the interdigital folds between your left index and middle finger.
Although every golf instruction book recommends this setup, I find that this weakens my hold on the club. That causes me to produce excess movement of the wrists, and I leave the clubface open at impact. Therefore I push or slice every shot.
The final setup is an interlocking grip, which Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods employ. Jack suggested that this setup gave his smaller hands the most control over the club. What you do, is feed your right pinky between your left index and middle finger. As a result, you lock your hands around the club.
The most significant point is to ensure you can release the clubhead at the top of the backswing along the intended club path. If your grip is correct, you will generate maximum power and enjoy a long, straight shot.
6. Your Golf Ball Is Positioned Incorrectly In Your Stance
The next issue that amateur golfers face is their ball position in their stance. This is tricky, as each club or shot requires a different ball position. Your ball should sit parallel to the inside of your lead heel on tee shots. This gives you ample time to clear your hips and square the face through impact for straight drives.
Next, you place the ball a few inches back from your driver position for shots with fairway woods or hybrids. This trend continues until you have a wedge in hand, where you position the ball marginally back of center.
As you can see, the longer the shaft is, the further forward the ball needs to sit in your stance.
Besides the shaft length, you need to adjust your ball depending on the type of shot you wish to play. When your ball is teed up it should lie forward in your stance. This enables you to strike the ball on your upswing to lift it off the tee.
Furthermore, when you place the ball back in your stance, you strike it at a steep angle of attack. This causes you to deloft the clubface and launch the ball low. You also set the ball back in your stance if you wish to draw the ball. Lastly, a forward ball setup is the best way to induce a fade.
7. You Don’t Strategize
Struggling golfers have a tendency to walk up to the ball and whack it. They do not think about the layout of the hole, their next shot, and the best way to make par.
Take your time to examine the layout and the conditions. Which side of the hole gives you the easiest route to the flag? Which direction is the wind blowing? By thinking about these questions, you can lower your scores by putting yourself in a prime position.
Even if you do not hit your target, you can miss in a safe area that still gives you a shot at the flag.
8. You Have No Pre-Shot Routine
A pre-shot routine is what separates superior golfers from the rest is a pre-shot routine. Many amateurs do not get into a rhythm before their shot, leading to inconsistent results. It brings order to your mind and encourages structure from your practice swing to impact.
Employing a pre-shot routine gives you a moment to clear your mind and focus on executing your task. A practice swing is necessary to help you identify if you are aligned correctly. You can clearly see if you are on track to strike the ball cleanly with a square clubface. If not, reset and repeat the routine.
You cannot expect to achieve consistent results from tee to green if you do not undergo the same process before each shot.
9. Your Short Game Is Your Worst Nightmare
We have a guide dedicated to short game tips and drills that will improve your up and down record. So, I will be brief on this topic. If you cannot chip and putt, you are doomed. That is where it counts.
I suggest spending more time on the practice green mastering your short game before you try to bomb your drives like Bryson DeChambeau. Throughout my golfing journey, I have suffered an erratic long game, which forced me to master my chipping and putting.
Learn how to read the break of the greens and understand different grass grains. In addition, work on your flop, pitch, and chip shots, to get up and down. Finally, work on your putting touch to eliminate 3-putts and reduce bogies.
10. You’re More Concerned With Distance Than Accuracy
Every golfer longs for more distance. How they try and achieve it is the real issue. For starters, these golfers purchase expensive equipment, hoping that it is a magical cure.
Next, they force their swing to increase velocity but impact their rhythm, tempo, and smash factor. The unfortunate result is a loss of distance and accuracy. Effectively, a lose-lose scenario.
My solution to this is shortening your swing, which is how I currently operate. Yes, I lose distance compared to a full swing out of the sweet spot. However, I am hitting more fairways and greens in regulation than ever.
Therefore, if your full swing is causing your ball to fly all over the golf course, think about shortening it.
Further Reading: Focus on the fundamentals of the game by reviewing our 10 tips to help you break 100.