I recently read a piece in the GolfWRX newsletter about why golfers don’t improve. It goes in several directions, but fails to mention the main reason. Almost everyone who takes up the game does it the wrong way.
Let’s talk about learning to play the piano. You would start out with easy pieces and basic skills. You would play within your capabilities because that is all you could do.
Over time, you would become more skillful in your technique, but to become a pianist your focus would have been all along on being a musician, technique being a means to that end.
Learning golf should be the same way: start with easy, basic skills and work up as you go along, playing on courses that your skills make you capable of playing, and using those skills to be a golfer all the while.
But what normally happens is that amateurs tackle the full game from the very start, get in way over their heads, and continue to try solving advanced problems instead of starting off small and working up.
They are like beginning piano players try to start off trying to play this:
instead of this:
People who never went through a process of getting into the game gradually, but rather tried to take it on all at once will find improvement difficult and time-consuming because they never created a foundation from which significant improvement can emerge.
Until they build that foundation, no amount of tweaks at the back end will help very much.
Every year I go through a re-learning process. I get back to basic putting: hitting a lot of 2- and 3-foot putts. Hitting 30- and 40-footers.
I re-learn my chipping stroke and re-calibrate my chipping formula. I re-learn my pitching stroke and re-calibrate my pitching game from 55-100 yards.
My swing? I get a refresher lesson with a 5-iron, and another one with a driver.
In short, I become a beginner again. I re-create a solid foundation.
And that, I believe is what every golf who is stuck should do—start over. It doesn’t matter if you are trying to break 100, or 90, or go from the high 70s to the low 70s.
If you’re stuck, start over with the small strokes. Play most of your golf on par 3 courses for a while. That’s golf without the driver, and if you can’t score there, you can’t on the big course, either.
Get really good at shots that are technically easy before you move on to shots that are technically difficult.
Honestly! Life is long. Taking out three or four months months to build a foundation for your future in a game you will play for the rest of your life is such a minimal investment that will pay off huge rewards.
And if you say, well, thanks for telling me this in the middle of July when I want to be out flailing away at 6,400 yards of heartache, I’ll say, why not spend a few weeks tuning up your game, then a few months honing it on smaller courses on which you will have a shorter outing and have more fun and become a better golfer, and this is the IDEAL time of year to do it.
But that’s just how I see it.