Golf Slump

Golf Slump: The Plan to Get Back on Track

Catching the golf bug is great… until a golf slump happens. So what causes a slump in golf (even for the best players in the world)?

Sometimes it’s a personal life issue, other times it’s the mental side of things, and other times it’s a bad habit in your swing. Regardless of which issue it is, assessing what is holding you back from great golf is step number one.

Then, it’s about creating a plan on the practice range, mental side of things, and or changing equipment to start playing golf better. Today, we’ll help any mental game or golf swing issues so you can stop feeling hopeless and get back to your normal scores.

Golf Slump 101  

While slumps are unfortunate, it’s also important to remember that golf is one of the hardest sports ever. As the 2023 PGA Champion Brooks Koepka said,

“Golf’s so crazy because when you have it, you feel like you’re never gonna lose it. And when you don’t have it, you feel like you’re never gonna get it.”

Brooks is a perfect example as he went through a slump that lasted months (if not years) due to injuries. But he persevered, fought back, took 2nd at the 2023 Masters, then won the following major.

The point is, even great players slump at times.

Key Takeaways 

  • Slumps are part of sports – especially golf.
  • It’s important not to personalize slumps as they happen to everyone.
  • But with the right strategies you can overcome a rough patch and play better than ever.
  • One of the most important things to remember when you’re playing bad is to maintain a strong mental game. Having the right mental attitude can do wonders to your game.

Keep reading to learn how to get out of your slump fast. 

How to Bounce Back in Golf

Identify Your Weaknesses

The first thing to do when you’re going through a rough patch is to sit down and look at your game. It’s best to do this away from the golf course and analyze what’s going on that is leading to higher than normal scores. 

The first thing to consider is your handicap vs. your average scores. One of the biggest mistakes so many golfers make is thinking they should shoot their handicap every time. But this is actually a very unrealistic expectation to set.

A golf handicap is your potential score… not your average score. The way the handicapping system works it takes your best scores, not a running average of all scores.

For example, I’m a +2 handicap but that doesn’t mean I shoot -2 every round (I wish). Most golfers shoot 3–6 shots above their handicap on any given round. It’s your best rounds that are near your actual handicap. 

Once you consider your handicap vs. average scores, then you can get into figuring out what’s holding you back. Ask yourself questions like:

  • How can I improve?
  • Have I been practicing lately?
  • What is the best part of my game? 
  • What is the weakest part of my game?

Also, if you play golf with the same group of people that you trust, don’t be afraid to ask them too. A lot of times when we’re slumping we’re too close to the problem to identify what’s going wrong. 

Work on One Thing at a Time

Once you analyze your game, identify the one area that is holding you back the most. Break it down into one of the four categories; driving, approaches, short game, or putting

Then, spend time on that one area over the next few weeks focusing mostly on this issue. Also, it’s not a bad idea to record your golf swing so you can spot any setup or swing issues. 

how to video golf swing

Driving 

If your tee box game is off, it’s hard to play your best golf. The first thing to consider if you’re in a driving slump is your tee box strategy… Do you have one? 

Too many golfers neglect picking targets and weighing the pros/cons of hitting driver, 3W or another club. Make sure to spend a few minutes assessing the best tee shot option so you can commit to a good swing and target.

If you’ve suffered the same issue over and over again – like hitting a slice – it might be time for an equipment issue. Check out our best anti-slice drivers here.

Finally, make sure to spend more time in practice working with your driver. Specifically focus on hitting one shot over and over again at the range. Whether that’s a draw or a fade – play the shot you feel the most comfortable with.

Oftentimes when you try to hit a shot that isn’t as natural to you, it can lead to some big misses. Master one shot shape off the tee and it’ll help your game more than you thought possible. 

Approaches

If driving is good but the approaches are holding you back, start by evaluating your approach shot strategy. Just like you do on the tee box, it’s vital to pick the right club and target for your second shot.

One of the easiest ways to improve your second shots is to club up. Most golfers don’t take enough club and end up short of the green, which is where there is the most trouble. Instead, take a club that you don’t have to hit 100% perfect to find the dance floor.

If you’re suffering from the same miss – maybe a thin or pull – focus on fundamentals like alignment, grip, and posture. Oftentimes it’s the littlest adjustments in your setup that can have a big impact on your ball striking. 

Finally, at the driving range, work with training aids to fix your biggest issue. For example, if you’re suffering from not creating enough lag, try out the Lagshot training aid. Or, if you have weight transfer issues that lead to inconsistent contact, try out the WhyGolf Pressure Plate

Short Game (Scrambling)  

If your short game is holding you back the most, there are two things to look at more than anything else. 

First is your short game tempo – which is something that a lot of players don’t understand is different from long game tempo. Chips and pitches happen at a 2:1 ratio, while the long game is 3:1. Using an app like Tour Tempo can help you speed up your tempo and hit more crisp chip shots. 

The second thing to do is simply practice the short game more and spend less time on the range. Developing feel comes from simply working at the short game area more than banging 7-irons at the driving range. 

Work on all types of shots from different lies including:

  • Bump and run.
  • Putting with hybrids.
  • Greenside bunker shots.

And anything else that is a weakness on the course.  

Putting 

Putting is so different from the rest of your game. As the great Ben Hogan said, “There is no similarity between golf and putting; they are two different games, one played in the air, and the other on the ground.” 

Keep scrolling to find the best ways to overcome a putting slump. 

How to Pick a Golf Coach

Listen to One Swing Coach

When things are going bad in your game it’s easy to want answers fast (trust me, I get it). But this can lead to a lot of people spending hours down the rabbit hole that is YouTube university. Don’t get me wrong, there is tons of great content on there and a lot of it can help you out.

However, with golf instruction less is more sometimes. When you binge watch several channels or work with multiple people, it’s easy to get mixed messages and overwhelm yourself.

Instead, stick to one coach or channel and stick with their methodology for an extended period of time.

Dial in Your Pre-Shot Routine

If you’re hitting it great on the practice tee but terrible on the course, it might be a mental issue. Think about it – motion doesn’t break down that quickly; you can’t hit it great on the range then walk to the first tee 100 yards away and forget how to swing. 

This is where a good pre-shot routine comes in.

Most golfers neglect a routine and suffer as a result. A good routine can help your mental skills, hit every shot with more confidence, and make it easier to forget a bad shot quickly. Plus, deal with nerves, speed up pace of play, and ultimately play your best.

Click here to learn more about creating a good pre-shot routine.

Take a Golf Break 

If you’re in a major slump, the final thing to consider is some time away from the game if nothing else works. If you’re driving to the golf course with dread and not excited, take some time off. Golf should never feel like a chore! 

How long of a break is dependent on the player. Some golfers might play 3-5X a week so a few days might help. Others might need a week or more, especially if you have any golf injuries too.

Once you start missing and appreciating the game, then it’s time to get back to the course.

Putting Practice

Putting Slump 

A golf slump has a lot of factors involved but a putting slump is typically easier to fix. Why?

Because the putting motion is much simpler than a full swing. You don’t have to swing 100+ mph with a putter and instead just need to hit it on the green. 

Here are some of the best strategies to get out of a putting slump fast.

Record Your Stroke 

If you’re struggling on the greens, start by recording your putting stroke. Get a video down the line and face on to address any setup issues. In my experience, it’s usually something as simple as changing something at setup to gain confidence with the putter.

  • From the face on angle evaluate your grip, ball position, and stance.
  • From down the line angle evaluate your posture, alignment, and stroke path.

Work on Short Putts 

Once you make any necessary adjustments to your putting setup or stroke, it’s time to gain confidence from short putts. To get out of a putting slump quickly you need to hear and see the ball go in the hole more often. This means practicing more from 3-6 feet.

The more you see the ball go in the hole, the more confident you will become. Plus, this is one of the most crucial distances to avoid three putts and get more up/downs during the round.

Test Out a New Putter 

If you’re still struggling on the greens and have been for a while, it might be time to think about a new putter. Simply changing the putter can do wonders to your mental game issues and have you putting like normal again.

This is why a lot of golfers keep more than one putter instead of selling an extra. It’s nice to have a backup (even Tiger Woods has done this) to fall back on.

FAQs About Golf Slumps 

Do you have more questions about overcoming tough times on the golf course? If so, keep reading to learn more of the most frequently asked questions and answers now. 

What is a slump in golf?

A slump in golf is a period of time when you’re not playing and scoring like your normal self. This is different from a bad round, which happens even to the best of golfers. Don’t forget, slumps happen to all types of players!

Tips for Improving Mental Attitude in Golf

How do you get out of a golf funk?

The strategies above will help but here are a few less traditional ways that can help.

First, try out golf hypnotherapy… It might sound unconventional but it’s done wonders for people who give it a try. Hypnosis makes it easy to retrain your thinking and have more confidence on the golf course. Or, try out a sports psychology professional (learn more about my experience here).

Second, go play a new golf course to mix up your environment. Sometimes we get programmed to think and do the same things when playing the same course.  

Finally, don’t be afraid to change tees so the course gets shorter and hopefully easier. Sometimes we need a slump buster round to breakthrough and get the momentum going in the right direction. Or, try out an executive golf course too. 

My Experience

A golf slump isn’t easy sometimes as I’ve been there more times than I can count. Sometimes it might last a few rounds, other times a few weeks (or more) before better golf happens.

My biggest advice is to never forget why you love and play the game in the first place.

Perspective is everything – sometimes you can learn a lot about your entire game from a rough patch of golf. Stick with, trust the process, and master your mental game until your golf swing comes back.

Final Thoughts on Playing Good Golf

Don’t forget, bad shots and bad rounds are part of playing golf.. no matter how good you get. Even with amazing physical skills and mental skills, professional golfers still have a ton of off days. That’s just golf… so don’t let a few bad shots, holes, or rounds play mind games into thinking you’re in a slump.

If your golf game needs some help, I’m confident these tips will help a ton. Paired with all the positive thinking you can muster, you’ll be back to normal in no time.