Why You Aren’t Getting Better at Golf

“All Your Dreams, Dashed”

Virtually every golfer I know starts each season full of hope.  “This is going to be the year that I break 100/90/80” or “This is going to be the year I beat Joe in our weekly match.”

And while some golfers fulfill their dreams, most don’t.  Most are the same golfer this year as they were last year.  If you’d like to stop being that same golfer, let’s take a look at why you aren’t getting better at golf.

This Lesson Is For You If:

You’re not getting better at golf

Reason #1: Not Practicing

The most common culprit for not getting better is the most obvious: not putting the work in.  No one sits on the couch and expects to get six pack abs, right?  So how can you expect to drain more putts, hit more greens, or smash more drives if you’re not practicing?

As I explain in detail HERE, practicing doesn’t need to be a major investment of time or money.  There are lots of ways to make improvements without leaving your house.  Pick one and do it.

Reason #2: No Plan

When you do practice – whether at home or at the course – do you have a plan?  And, let me be clear: “I hit my driver badly yesterday, so I’ll hit some drives on the range today” isn’t a plan.

If you want to see real improvement, figure out what parts of your game need attention.  Then, decide how you’re going to improve them.  Pick some drills or games to do, and stick with them.  Take a lesson and spend time doing what the coach suggests.  Test and re-test your skills to see if your plan is working.

Reason #3: A Bad Plan

In some cases, a bad plan can be worse than no plan at all.

The first kind of bad plan is getting your golf instruction from a rotating cast of YouTubers and Instagrammers.  I’m not opposed to getting your golf instruction from the internet, but, if you’re going to go that route, stick with one reputable source.  And, if you’re really trying to change something in your swing, get an in-person lesson from a good teacher.  There is no substitute for personalized advice.  It will save you countless hours and tremendous frustration.

The second kind of bad plan is the one that’s focused on the wrong thing.  Align your plan with the thing you care about.  If you want to score better now, focus on short game and putting.  If you want to hit better shots, work on your swing.  Just don’t be the guy who spends all his time bashing driver and complaining that his scores never go down.

Reason #4: Changing Plans

How many times have you heard a golfer say, “Yeah, I tried ____, but it didn’t work…”?  Unless you’re new to the game, I imagine the answer is in the dozens.  Golfers love trying something new only to discard it the minute it “doesn’t work.”  

If you want to see long term improvement, you need to commit to your plan.  Give the change a chance.

The question of, “How long do I wait?” has no simple answer other than, “Longer than you think.”  I can’t tell you that the third lesson will be magic after the first two went badly.  No one knows if it’s the fifth or sixth month of solid practice that will yield results.  Golf is hard.  What I do know is that if you’re constantly changing horses midstream, you’re likely to drown in frustration.


I hope this is the year that all of you see your scores drop.  I hope that this is the year that your tee shots fly straight and far.  And if you take the simple advice of creating a good plan and sticking to it, I think it will be.

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Matt Saternus

Founder, Editor In Chief at PluggedInGolf.com
Matt is the Founder and Editor in Chief of Plugged In Golf. He's worked in nearly every job in the golf industry from club fitting to instruction to writing and speaking. Matt lives in the northwest suburbs of Chicago with his wife and two daughters.

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  1. Just to add to your info above Matt. I think one way players at any level can see improvement is course management. Don’t further compound mistakes. Work on laying up to a yardage your comfortable with. Learn how to punch out and leave yourself a better yardage/easier shot. Just avoid short siding yourself on approach shots. The centre of the green isn’t the worst place to be. Working on this portion of my game has helped a lot. I save at least 2 shots per round just making better decisions. Love your content Matt and keep up the great work.

  2. Peter Hunt

    Hi Matt thanks 😊 very much for all your clear and concise advice on practice and how to improve!! Just waiting now for the lock 🔐 down to finish and I can put your comments into action. To all golfers 🏌️‍♂️ all over our crazy 😜 planet 🌎 a safe return to the fairways. Best regards. Peter Hunt Eastbourne, England 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 ⛳️🏌️🍻

  3. Kevin Coughlin

    Thanks for the tips Matt. When I’m at the range and once I’m warmed up, I like to take shots as if I’m on my favorite course. That breaks up the sequence nicely so that I’m practicing drives, different length approach shots, short and long chips. More variety makes it more realistic

  4. I believe another thing that gets in the way of players improving is they take on too many fixes. Stick to one or two things, practice those things, take them to the course…assess and practice or fine tune again. Then start working on something else. Too many thoughts prevent progress.

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