9 Reasons to Believe YOU Can Actually Become a Better Golfer


9 Reasons to Believe YOU Can Actually Become a Better Golfer

I have always opined that success breeds confidence, instead of the other way around. In other words, confidence is not something that can be created simply by thinking or acting confidently: there needs to be real reasons to feel confident. When thinking of how to create confidence we acknowledge a lack thereof. When the conversation turns to golf the mass of players has every reason to lack confidence: after all, the average score amongst all golfers is over 100, while more people quit the game each year than take it up. The problem is obvious: golf is hard. While we’re working on a list of reasons why you should feel good about your prospects of improving, let’s start with one that details why golf is so difficult in the first place.

  1. It is a movement sport that starts from a stationary position. That means that the initial starting point is of utmost importance, and that every nuance of the set-up needs to be addressed, perfected, and remembered. For a beginner this is a tremendous amount of detail, and the hard part, the actual movement, hasn’t even started yet.
  2. The physical movement involved in the swing is incredibly demanding. For every Tim Herron or Mark Calcavecchia on tour there are now ten Tiger Woods, Anthony Kims, or Camilio Villegas’s. The reason is obvious- adding strength and fitness to talent gives any player a better chance to succeed. For the average player without the talent or physical gifts the golf swing is just hard to manage.
  3. The golf swing demands precision and is dizzyingly complex. The act of applying the clubface squarely to the ball at the proper speed is perhaps the most difficult single task in sports. Some argue for hitting a baseball, but in my mind much of that difficulty lies in the abilities of the pitcher. The golf ball just sits there, daring you to hit it.
  4. The playing field is constantly changing. Moving the ball forward is one thing, negotiating the myriad challenges of course conditions and weather involves decision making at every moment.
  5. Extracting consistent information about any part of the game is next to impossible. Read a magazine article concerning the proper way to initiate your swing and it might suggest that you use a one-piece motion initiated by the shoulders. Flip 20 pages or so and you might find another article on the same subject that promotes a quick wrist cock or “early set” followed by a simultaneous movement of the upper and lower bodies. Which one is correct? Which one is more applicable to your individual swing? The same problem exists in every medium, and continues into personal instruction, as every teaching pro has his or her take on the best way to play the game.
  6. Most of the important aspects of the swing are counter-intuitive. In other words, if you are thinking logically you might suppose that to get the ball up in the air you would want to get under the ball and lift it up with your swing. If you wanted to hit the ball straight (and most people do) you might think that a club that approached impact already square, hit the ball square, and stayed square while the club followed the target line would be an optimum method for propelling the ball directly at the target. Well, that may sound like a good idea, but in fact scooping under the ball will never give you the feel of a solidly hit shot, and trying to swing “down the line” with the face square is guaranteed to hit the ball well to the right.

Without a doubt, you are struggling with the hardest game known to mankind. Why in the world would you have any confidence that you will be able to improve? Well, since we listed some of the reasons why golf is so hard, we should now move in a positive direction and list some of the reasons to believe that you can become a better player and ultimately enjoy moments of exhilarating accomplishment.

  1. You are not a quitter. If you can manage to get better information (such as what you are reading right now) you will apply yourself relentlessly and will yourself to become a better golfer.
  2. You will learn to regard most media related information and instruction as entertainment, and not try to apply it to your own game. If you can’t ask a question and get an answer, don’t try it.
  3. You will find an instructor you can trust, and you will commit to consistent lessons. If you don’t feel confident that you are getting good information, or that perhaps the instructor’s method of communicating or his personality does not mesh with your needs and preferences, you will search for a new one.
  4. You will practice more, and more effectively. You will divide your time among range, short game, and on course practice. If you learn something in a lesson you will take the time to practice it as soon as you can.
  5. You will take notes and keep a journal. There are so many details to keep track of that you need to jot a short reminder on something you keep in your golf bag. If you start your practice sessions or your rounds by quickly reviewing what you have been working on you can avoid the 17th hole “oh yeah, I forgot that”, or the large bucket of balls that go by before you remember how you wanted to take the club away.
  6. You will begin to analyze your rounds so that you can identify the reasons your scores won’t go down. Fairways, greens, putts, up-and-downs, misses left and right, short and long, all of these are items of interest. You may find a pattern that you were unaware of, and, with increased focus, begin to rectify a serious weakness.
  7. You will watch the best players, and listen to what they have to say. Pay special attention to when they speak of their goals, they say exactly the right things: “I just try to get better every year”.
  8. You will learn to enjoy practice. George Leonard, in his fabulous book “Mastery”, tells us that most of the learning process is spent on “plateaus” where no real progress or improvement is evident. It is when we feel that we are getting nowhere that panic, or despondency, sets in. We either look for the “easy” way and try any new gizmo or new method we can find, or we stop practicing altogether, not wishing to “practice the wrong things”. What we really need to do is hang in there and keep grinding. Getting better takes time. If you enjoy practicing you will be far more likely to spend the amount of time necessary to improve.
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