Why am I getting worse at Golf?

Why am I getting Worse at Golf? 6 Reasons

Golf is a relentless pursuit of improvement… but sometimes you might get into a slump and find yourself regressing.

Some days you can hit the ball well and be in total control of your golf game. Other times you’ll be playing golf and think, “Why am I getting worse?”

This is a disheartening point in the journey that every golfer has faced.

Today we’ll help you understand why a decline in performance happens and how to improve your golf game fast.

Why Am I Getting Worse At Golf? 

Key Takeaways 

  • Golf is one of the few sports where more practice can actually make you perform worse on the golf course.
  • A breakdown of the mental game is a common reason why so many golfers are “range players” and struggle to bring their swing to the course.
  • Common reasons why golfers get worse (not better) are too many swing tips/technical thoughts, not enough practice, playing the wrong equipment, using the wrong golf ball, and more.

Keep reading to learn some of the common reasons you might be struggling to make a plan to fix it quickly.

Playing Unforgiving Golf Clubs

Golf equipment has come a long way over the last 15–20 years. Clubs are more forgiving, bigger sweet spots, lighter shafts, and generally a lot easier to hit.

Unfortunately, ego and a lack of understanding equipment can lead to playing the wrong golf clubs. If you’re playing clubs that are too “good” for you – meaning they’re too heavy, not forgiving enough, etc… you’re making this sport a lot harder on yourself.

Best Irons for Beginners and High Handicap Golfers

This is a mistake I’ve made several times in my career and an unforced error on my part. Don’t let ego get in the way and think you need to play stiff shafts, a heavier shaft, hit blades, or less forgiving clubs.

Instead, play the clubs that make the game easier. That might mean switching to an anti-slice driver, going from steel to graphite shafts in your irons, or ditching the blade putter for a mallet. 

If you’re struggling with equipment it’d probably be a good idea to get a custom fitting with a professional. They can use a launch monitor and other tech to see if your clubs are right or need to replace any for better performance. 

Simply put, amateur golfers need different clubs from professional golfers!

Lack of Practice Sessions

Even if you have the right equipment you need to practice… a lot!

Golf requires so much from players – unlike basketball or tennis where you learn one motion to hit the ball or shoot it. With golf, you have to learn how to use all 14 clubs, battle different conditions, and learn all types of shots.

Which is why so many people are attracted to the sport – it requires a ton of dedication and discipline. So if you’re getting worse at golf, it might be from a lack of practice.

Golf Practice Drills

Here are some practice tips to help you sharpen your skills

  • Take regular breaks in practice.
  • Schedule practice time each week.
  • Spend more time on your short game.
  • Focus on shots that give you the most trouble on the course.
  • Use alignment sticks and training aids to improve mechanics on the range.
  • Never judge a practice by its length. A longer session doesn’t always guarantee it’s a “better” session. 

If you have a long offseason it might be a good idea to invest in an at home golf simulator too.

Or, even buying a mat and net to work on your swing in the backyard. This way you can avoid bad habits and stick to a practice plan at home.

Too Many Swing Videos on YouTube University 

One of the main reasons golfers struggle in golf is an endless attempt to understand and master the swing. It’s only natural to want to understand it in hopes to get better and fix your inconsistent swing.

But if you’re not careful, too much time on YouTube “University” might ruin your game.

Unfortunately, I know from experience myself; golfers tend to be overachievers and will do whatever it takes to get better. Whether it’s buying a $600 driver, hiring a sports psychologist, or golf workouts to avoid injuries.

But less is more sometimes with the golf swing.

Trying to understand every position and every fundamental by watching endless YouTube videos can hurt your game. 

How to Pick a Golf Coach

Don’t get me wrong, YouTube and social media golf videos have some value at times. There’s a ton of great information but if you watch endless videos from different coaches, it’s easy to get confused and overwhelmed. 

Instead, pick one coach you like and only watch their videos.

Or, only work with one coach – not multiple coaches – to improve your golf swing. Don’t overwhelm yourself with endless swing thoughts or it might be hard to get the results you want.

Missing Short Putts

While the full swing has a big impact on your game don’t forget about the short game too.

Specifically putts inside six feet as these are the easiest shots to get back during the round. The good news is that you don’t need to be a PGA Tour player to find confidence on the greens.

Instead, all you need is:

  • A pre-shot putting routine. 
  • Regular practice (indoors or outdoors).
  • The right putter for your game that gives you tons of confidence.

A good routine is needed on the greens as it will help minimize negative thinking and direct your thoughts on the target.

Just look at any PGA Tour player and you’ll see they have a very consistent set of rituals before they hit a putt. Tiger is one of the best examples and seems to never waiver from his routine (and likely one of the reasons he’s been such a clutch putter in his career).

Best Indoor Putting Mat

The second thing you need is regular practice to build belief with short putts. You can do this a few days a week at the golf course or if you’re busy, invest in an indoor putting green. These are one of the best golf accessories you can buy to practice at home.

Using your green set a daily or weekly goal to make a certain number of short putts. If you’re struggling with path or alignment, use a Pro Path putting mirror. If you’re struggling with breaking putts try out the Breaking Ball Putting mat.

Finally, don’t forget to use the right putter too.

So many golfers spend most of their time and money on buying a driver or set of irons when the putter is just as important. Not to mention you don’t have to replace a putter nearly as often as a driver or woods.

Check out our guide to find the right putter here. With these three ingredients you should be making more putts than ever which will have a huge impact on your scores. 

Not Having a Pre-Shot Routine

Are you great on the driving range but terrible on the golf course? Do you ever wonder how your swing is solid during the pre-round warm up but is “lost” on the course?

If this sounds like you, I’d suggest developing a pre-shot routine asap. A good routine will help you make the golf course feel more like the driving range so you can relax and swing like you normally do. 

Think about it, the driving range is easier to hit good shots as there’s no hazards or anything to worry about. You’re relaxed, swinging freely, and not stressing over the next shot.

This is why you need a pre-shot routine.

Pre Shot Routine in Golf

A good set of pre-shot rituals can help you focus on the target, pick the right club, and get your mind/body ready for the swing. Most importantly a good routine can help you minimize technical thinking and focus on one thing only – the target.

A good pre-shot routine can help you hit more greens, more fairways, and make more putts according to a European Tour study. The study also found that a good routine should be eight seconds or less from the time you’re in your stance to follow through.

Spend time creating an efficient pre-shot routine can help you bring your range game to the course. 

Poor Mental Approach to the Game  

Golf is a frustrating game at times even if you have a wildly consistent swing, the right equipment and a good short game. This is why the mental game is so important to help you deal with ups and downs throughout the round.

Here’s a good example of why you need a strong mental game.

Let’s say you hit a great first tee shot and overcame golf nerves like a pro. But you get out the ball and find it’s sitting in a divot – how do you react?

How to Stay Positive on the Golf Course

If you’re like most golfers chances are you erupt into frustration and curse the Golf Gods that a perfect drive ends up in a divot. Which leads to a poor routine, lack of good decision making, and likely not a great shot.

But if you’re someone that has a strong mental game you’ll see the ball in the divot as a challenge. You’ll calmly assess the lie, pick the right target, the right club, go through your routine, and hit the shot. Even if you don’t hit it perfectly, you’ll set yourself up for success and give yourself the best opportunity to execute the shot.

This is just one of many examples of frustrations we can feel on the golf course.

Others might include a lipout, your ball hitting a tree and going OB, or a lost ball. Having the right mental attitude can help you deal with these stressful situations so it doesn’t ruin the rest of your round. 

FAQs About How to Play Golf More Consistently

Do you have more questions about improving your golf game?

If so, keep reading the most frequently asked questions and answers now. 

Why have I gotten so much worse at golf?

If you struggle to hit the ball consistently well make sure to find a golf instructor that can help. They’ll help you swing the golf club more consistently and make playing golf a lot more fun.

What can’t I get better at golf?

There are a lot of reasons as each golfer is different from one another. 

It might be from too much golf (not enough rest), too much time practicing the wrong things, not focusing on fundamentals like ball position, ball flight, or something else.

If you track your statistics this is a good place to start and something I suggest for every amateur golfer. Every golfer – even Tiger Woods – can benefit from knowing their stats as it’s an objective measurement of the game.

How do you mentally recover from a bad round of golf?

A bad round can destroy confidence even for the best players in the world.

The best thing to do is not avoid it and confront it head on when you’re back at home. When the “wound is still fresh” you can deal with it so it doesn’t linger.

How to Bounce Back in Golf

Start by assessing what went wrong – was it your strategy? Swing? Mental game? Or was the golf course just playing hard.

Once you have an idea on what made the round so difficult, work on this weakness in practice. If you struggled out of the sand and led to some blowup holes, work on your bunker technique. If you hit three balls OB spend more time on the driving range.

Working on your weaknesses is key to improving but you need to analyze your round first. Then you can make a plan to fix it. Also, don’t forget to let it go – one bad round isn’t the end of the world and use it as fuel to hit your golf goals. 

My Experience

Golf is such a tricky sport where effort is not always rewarded. Sometimes you can put in all the work on the range or short game area only to struggle on the golf course. 

Here’s the thing, if you’re hitting it well on the range and even in casual rounds but not in higher pressure situations (or tournaments), it’s not your swing. Yet, if most of us have a bad round we head to the range, fix the issue – usually quickly – then wonder why it doesn’t translate to the course.

If this is the case it’s not a swing issue but usually a mental game issue.

The motion of the golf swing doesn’t break down from the driving range to the golf course. This is why it leads me to believe it’s an issue between the ears, not in the mechanics of the swing.

To take your driving range game to the golf course focus on a good pre-shot routine. This will help you avoid negative thoughts, get clear about target, club selection, and help you relax. Which should lead to more good swings that are similar to the ones on the driving range. 

Having the right mental attitude and setting the right expectations is also key. No matter how good you get, don’t forget that bad shots are a part of golf. It’s how you deal with these bad shots so you can bounce back quickly.

Final Thoughts to Getting Better at Golf

Hopefully these tips will help your game trend in the right direction. There is no magic formula, just make sure to stick with it.

Golf is an infuriating game at times but I think this Jack Nicklaus quote sums it perfectly.

“Golf is the easiest game in the world to quit. But it’s also the greatest game not to quit. Because when you conquer the game again, when you hit good shots again, golf is an even greater game than it was before.”

Don’t quit, take a break if needed but never give up on this great game. Use the golf tips above to find your love of the game and get back to playing great golf.

Keep hitting golf balls, have fun in your practice sessions, and stay positive. It might not happen overnight but it’ll be worth the hard work. 

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