Been getting a few questions lately about methods for improving one’s golf game and overcoming frustrations along the way. Both are tough nuts to crack, but let’s first address the frustrations. Recognize that golf is an activity that requires continual learning. It takes time, effort, persistence, and must be treated as a journey and not a result. Frustration and satisfaction are companions on the ride. Players and students of the game come to this realization slowly if they don’t set expectations up front. The expectations should be documented in an improvement map and include a goal and specific how-to’s. You’ll find it’s difficult to pursue a general plan like “become a better golfer, “ because the words connote a moving target.
Your improvement map needs specifics. For example, say you are a player who regularly shoots between 100 and 110. There’s room for improvement in almost every aspect of your game but not getting focused on where to work can hurt. Your map should have a goal like: “Break 100 for seven of 10 rounds by the end of September.” Then add in the how-to. This could be: “Sign up for a series of six lessons on ball striking. Take one lesson every two weeks. Practice the lessons twice per week. Include one round of golf per week.” Over the course of this journey, you will hit snags and setbacks, but with persistence should expect the balance of instruction, practice, and play to yield benefits. You may also begin to notice shortcomings in other areas of your game, like chipping or putting. But remain on task and focused because there will be plenty of time to work on other things. At this level, you’ll gain a higher level of satisfaction from improved ball striking and eliminating those severely wayward full swing misses.
Now, say you are a player that shoots in the low 80s. Totally different map because your swing is more refined. The more competence you demonstrate, the harder incremental improvement becomes and at this level, a higher degree of dedication is required to improve. Again, your map should be specific with a goal like: “Break 80 in five of 10 rounds by the end of September.” The how-to: “Take a lesson in chipping and putting. Practice your learned technique two times per week and play two times per week. After one month, take another lesson in pitching and bunker play. Repeat the practice/play cadence.” The focus on short game along with the increased frequency of practice and play should pay dividends.
At any level, increasing frequency is the key because the techniques you learn become second nature. When you can rely on technique, you think more about making shots. This is where the improvement happens. The instruction is important because practicing the wrong technique can set you back. Most golfers struggle with these two areas because they need to find an instructor they can trust and need to make the required time commitment. Solve for those two, add in an improvement map, and you’re on your way.