Prevent Golf Failures

Missing: My Golf Swing

Most of the lessons that I write are inspired by something I’ve gone through, and this one is no different.

Last summer, I was fortunate enough to go to Bandon Dunes with other writers from Plugged In Golf.  While there were a few bright spots, I did not play the way I hoped to.  There were seemingly endless stretches where my golf swing went MIA.  I stood over the ball feeling like any bad outcome was possible.

With the season around the corner for many of us, I’m writing this lesson with the hope that you won’t have to go through the same thing.

This Lesson Is For You If:

You only practice after you’ve had bad rounds

You have a big trip or match coming up

You need more motivation to work on your game

My Post-Mortem

After I got home from Bandon Dunes, I got committed to practicing.  I wasn’t living on the range, but I hit a small bucket each day and spent a few minutes working on my swing at home.  I got more diligent about using my office putting set up.

The results came immediately.  On my second day on the range, I was hitting the majority of my shots flush and on-target.  In my first round post-Bandon, I played well on the front then hit 9/9 GIR on the back.

Don’t Wait to Fail

The biggest thing that I took away from this experience is that it doesn’t require that much practice to play at or above your average level.  This realization made me feel worse in the short term, but I think it’s a hopeful note going forward.

We often make small things into big things and then avoid doing them.  Realize that practicing doesn’t mean being at the course from sun up to sun down.  If you can get your hands on a club for a few days in a row, even for just a few minutes, you’ll build confidence and keep your skills sharp.

Don’t Make Excuses

If you’re serious about avoiding golf failures, you have to avoid the temptation to make excuses.  Leading up to my trip, my shoulder was hurt.  I would rest it for a few days, then be right back where I started if I played or hit balls.  I allowed that to be an excuse for not doing anything, and I paid the price.

There is always something you can do to get better.  Even with a hurt shoulder, I could have chipped and putted, worked on slow motion swings, or ingrained my Tour Tempo [more on that HERE].  Being hurt or busy may keep you from your ideal form of practice, but it’s up to you whether you do something to get better.  Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.

Envision Failure to Avoid It

I’m a big believer in the value of positive thinking, but envisioning failure has its place, too.  If I had spent a few moments thinking about how I’d feel being on some of the best golf courses in the world without a clue about how to swing a club, I never would have let that situation happen.

If you’re lacking the motivation to get to the range or putting green, imagine what it’s going to feel like to fail.  Think about reaching into your pocket after you’ve lost your match.  Imagine standing on the postcard hole that you’ve been waiting to play and laying the sod over the ball.  Then throw those images away and get to work.

Matt Saternus


  1. I love this article Matt. Thanks for the roadmap and positivity.

    As a higher-handicap, it’s easy to get discouraged after your hack your way around an important round. I’ve found I played better and had more fun after consistently having a club in my hands in the days and weeks leading up to the big day.

  2. I’m really trying harder to get good. I decided to start all over and went full on stack and tilt.
    I practice everyday and started to hit the ball like I can’t imagine.
    The one question I have to ask . When I putt, I always have tap ends after my first putt but never make my birdie putt.
    They always end in tap ends, what can I do?

    • Matt Saternus


      First, congrats on hitting the ball well.
      To your question, I’d recommend taking a look at the PGA Tour putting stats. Those guys are the best in the world and they make very few putts from beyond ten feet. The best putter from 5-10 feet misses 3/10. Unless you’re missing a lot of five footers, I would say your expectations are a bigger problem than your putting.



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