Managing Golf Burnout

Most of us absolutely love golf and can’t seem to get enough.  But have you ever burned out on golf because of too much play or practice?  I was last burned out a long time ago.  1986 to be exact.  I was working as an assistant club professional and my typical work day started at 6:00 a.m. and ran through 3:00 p.m (Tuesday -Sunday).  Every day after work, I’d  play with the members until dark, so I was at the course for 13-14 hours.  On Monday, my one day off, I spent my day practicing.  The over-saturation was suffocating and I was so spent that I hated the game for a period of time.

This week, Phil Mickelson hit the point and withdrew mid-tournament from the BMW Championship siting mental exhaustion.  Sergio Garcia skipped the Deutsche Bank Championship to stay fresh, even though it’s the middle leg of the FedEx Cup playoffs.  Martin Kaymer has articulated how difficult it is to play for six consecutive weeks and how he dislikes living on the road for so long.

If top players can skip events because of burnout, and remain in overall contention, you are jeopardizing the integrity of your competition.  Imagine a star NFL quarterback skipping a playoff round because he was mentally fatigued – it would never happen.  I share The Grateful Golfer’s call for a format change, and to be honest, wouldn’t mind if they eliminated them all together.

The tour has taken it’s lead from the NFL and is attempting to make competitive golf a year-round cash cow.  The FedEx Cup transitions smoothly into the overlap schedule which is the start of the following year’s Tour schedule, complete with official money rankings.  This time used to be called the “Silly Season” and top pros still regard it as such.  Sorry, but my interest level drops after The PGA Championship is contested, and top players pulling out because of burnout should be a warning to the PGA Tour that they’ve exceeded the point of diminishing returns.  Their season is too long, they’re cheapening their product, and they need to scale back.

As mentioned, I haven’t been burned out for many years, but occasionally will lose a level of focus and desire.  It usually coincides with the start of football season (now) and it’s a sign for me to take a few weeks off – usually until I start to miss the game.  That’s exactly where I’m at right now and will taking a break until early October.

Have you ever been truly burned out on golf?  If so, how did you handle it?


9 thoughts on “Managing Golf Burnout”

  1. Brian

    Thanks for the mention. I agree about burn out for golf. If the Ryder Cup was not on this year, I would also lose interest after the Players Championship. That is until the snow flies, then I can hardly wait to hit the links again. Great Article.


    1. Jim, of course the Ryder Cup is the exception because of the captivating theater. I’d put it right up there with the majors as must see TV.

      I need to take a fall break and usually resume for Oct/Nov. Sometimes we can play year round here in the mid-Atlantic, but that was not the case with last year’s brutal winter. How late in the calendar is your course playable?

      1. We are just about finished. Normally we start in April and finish in Oct. then the snow gets ready to fly. Personally, I spot after mid September, except for the odd game. We have a pretty short season in this part of Canada! That is why I rarely get golf fatigue.


    1. Pete, did he burn out or choke horribly, as Johnny Miller noted during the telecast? Despite all that talent, Sergio is turning out to be a rather lousy finisher when the spotlight/pressure is on late in tournaments. In fact, if I was Paul McGinley, I’d think about sending him out early on Sunday of the Ryder Cup for that reason.



  2. Brian,

    I don’t often experience golf fatigue as I have the same issue as Jim – a very short golf season. If I get any games in during early October it is considered a huge bonus, and then it doesn’t start back up again reliably until May. Although it can often feel hectic trying to squeeze in rounds, practice and tournaments around a busy work schedule and social obligations in the summer, I remind myself how badly Winter Josh would kick Summer Josh’s ass if he found out he was passing up on golf because he was “tired”. First world problems…..haha

    Good article. Agree with you regarding the integrity of the FedEx Cup etc


  3. I have experienced golf burn out only a handful of times and it was more from poor play, not play in general. While on a golf trip for a few days and your game goes south there is no worse feeling and you just want to get off the course. I have never logged the hours like you mentioned above, but I have some weekend warrior buddies who share the same sentiment about poor play burn out. When you are hitting the ball well it is hard to stay away from the course and the range. Start scoring poorly and the course is the last place you want to be.

    1. Interestingly enough, I have never been burned out on bad play. Been disappointed, yes, but not burned out. After the effect of poor play wears off, I usually find myself mad that I had not prepared myself better and the drive seems greater to get back at it. I do play with less enthusiastic golfers who don’t take the game as serious as I do and when they play poorly over several rounds, they do feel like quitting. I tire when the daily grind of practice causes me to lose focus; then I know it’s time for a break.

      Thanks for the comment!


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