This is a message for everyone who wants to get become a better golfer: play with golfers who are better than you are. Much better. You will not improve if you don’t, no matter how many lessons you take, no matter how much you practice.
Percy Boomer, in his book, On Learning Golf, gets right to this point:
“The trouble with many 5 and 6 handicap men is that they have become as good as their conception of the swing enables them to be. Because their swing has not been developed about the correct centrifugal principle, it is unreliable, and they have to depend upon a tip being given or an idea coming to them just when they need it. This is a dangerous state of affairs, and the natural result of trying to learn golf by trial and error–that is by trying one thing one day and another the next–with no basic principle to back it up. It is true that this is the way most of us Pros learned, but it takes immense perseverance and a long time!” (pp. 208-09)
Now it sounds like I am about to urge you to take lessons to acquire the solid foundation Boomer is talking about. I would never advise against that. But I am concentrating on something he mentions in the first sentence of this extract. That is the conception of golf.
What is your conception? If you are teaching yourself, your notion of what can be done on a golf course is limited by what you can imagine. You will eventually rise to meet that notion, but that is all the farther you will progress. Because you cannot imagine what it means to play better, you will be stuck where you are, trying to perfect your limited idea of golf.
The only way to break out of your own mold, in my view, is to play with players who are much better than you. More than in terms of score, I mean in terms of skill.
Take the best shot you can hit, that you hit several times per round. Play with players who hit better shots than that, and hit them time after time–as the typical way they play. They not only hit better shots, they hit different shots that never occurred to you as possibilities. They’re playing a different game than you are.
It takes that to open your eyes and give you a new direction to take your learning and your practice. Then you can go get those lessons and put in the practice time because you have a goal in mind. You’re working toward something that has real meaning and will make you a different golfer, rather than being better at the some old things.