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.

Conclusion

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.

Matt Saternus
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6 Comments

  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.

  5. Swing slow and accept that you hit a driver 200 and a 7 iron 120. That is how to get better at golf. Ignore distance completely and don’t even attempt to swing harder until you are breaking 80 (yes it’s possible to break 80 driving the ball 200 yards if you play the right courses for your skill level – or the right tees). Don’t even attempt to hit the ball further/harder even in practice (especially in practice) until you shoot less than 80 every round and your strike is automatic.. i.e no fats , thins or shanks. When you have learned to strike the ball and how to control the club face to shape the ball and strike is automatic only then start to improve on distance. Usually that will be years.
    The pursuit of distance is the number one (and almost exclusive) reason that golfers do not improve. It’s like jumping in a F1 car and trying to take a fast corner at 200mph just after passing your driving test. There is only one outcome.
    I am almost certain almost no golfers ever take the advice. their ego won’t let them. They’d rather thin, fat, shank the ball all day just to get that one poured drove of 180 yard 7 iron.
    Even instructors these days are focusing ion distance. Crazy.

    Seriously, play every shot at the speed of a chip shot until you can put the ball where you intended to put it.
    Then slowly build speed – over years.

    If not, enjoy never getting better.

    • Matt Saternus

      John,

      Respectfully, I couldn’t disagree with this more. Speed is a skill. Always has been. The best players have always been long (relative to their peers). I’m a huge advocate of teeing it forward, but the idea that players should bunt it around the course is woefully misguided.

      -Matt

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