“To get an elementary grasp of the game of golf, a human must learn – by endless practice -a continuous and subtle series of highly unnatural movements, involving about sixty-four muscles. This results in a seemingly natural swing that takes less than two seconds to begin and end.” – Alistair Cooke
By Ian Hardie
Having been involved with the game of golf in one way or another for more than 30 years
I’ve seen an extremely large amount of golfers who have decided to spend some time ‘improving their golf’ in one way or another
It’s possibly even something that you have done yourself or are currently doing right now
Considering the many thousands of options, the mountains of information available and the virtually unlimited pathways available to the golfer that can be used in their quest to ‘improve their golf’
It should be a relatively simple thing to do in this information age shouldn’t it?
‘Do this or that and in no time you will be a much better golfer than you were last week’
As you may well be aware – that approach doesn’t always result in better golf
Which is a shame because as a golfer who has played at an extremely high level for a long time now – I can personally attest that golf is actually a way better game to play
If you can play it to the highest level that is possible for you – given your circumstances, experience and physical abilities of course
Putting aside the obvious bias from the fact that I am a PGA Golf Teacher who spends a lot of each week helping people around the world to do just that
Through giving golf lessons – as well as the ideas on the game that I write and publish
Spending some time ‘improving your golf’ – is something I suggest that every golfer does
The trouble is that for every golfer who does manage to gain improvement in some form
There is a considerably larger number who don’t improve and in actual fact – get worse
It’s something that you may have noticed out there on the golf course
Most golfers want to improve their golf but not many every really do
Or if they do manage to make a few positive changes – they don’t stick around for that long
Why is that the case?
Well, there are a few very simple reasons why most golfers don’t improve their golf
Even though they spend time, money and a lot of mental energy on trying to
The first of which is that most golfers don’t know enough about the whole game and how all the parts that make it up fit together to be able to accurately figure out just what it is in their game needs to be dealt with to improve
An example of this would be a golfer who may be having trouble slicing the ball off the tee with their driver being given ‘a tip’ from another golfer to ‘move their grip around a bit to stop the slice’ but as they don’t address this part of their game, this part and this part as well at the same time
It only gives a limited respite from the dreaded slice – which then starts to get worse
Or it could be that the golfer gets it into their head that they don’t make enough putts that are 20 feet or more in length and this is the reason their golf isn’t as good as they think it should be
This sort of an idea is one that can be easily backed up by one of the many thousands of statistic gathering apps or software programs that golfers use to record every shot they play
Meaning that the golfer will then proceed to spend hours working on their putting stroke or even buying that ‘magic new putter’ that will solve all their problems with long putts
The real problem that the golfer has – if you haven’t worked it out by now – is that they aren’t hitting their approach, pitch or chip shots close enough
Spending hours working on holing long putts isn’t going to change much for them
This is something that can be illustrated by some figures I found for the PGA Tour in 2013
The guy who holed the most putts from outside 20 feet – was Jordan Spieth who got 10.61% of the putts he attempted over 20 feet
Just consider that for a minute – one of the world’s best players only managed to hole 1 out of every 10 long putts that he had
What benefit would the average golfer receive from spending time working on improving that part of their game?
Very little would be the simple answer – unless they do this a lot
It gets worse as we go along though as the tour average was 6.89%
This effectively means that the best 200 or so male golfers in the world that year – only made 1 out of every 15 attempts they had at those long putts over 20 feet in length
That’s not many is it?
It’s certainly not an area of most golfers’ games that will transform their score
Who was the worst at those long putts – I hear you thinking?
That would be Aussie pro – Rod Pampling who made a tiny 2.72% of his long putts over 20 feet but before you think:
“What a hacker – he should really work on his putting!”
His scoring average on the PGA Tour for the season was 71.943
Why was he so poor in the long putt statistics then?
Remember how I suggested earlier that working on improving long putts isn’t that much use to most golfers – rather they should look at how close they are hitting their shots?
Rod Pampling hit most of his approach shots much closer to the hole than 20 feet!
Meaning that if he had focussed his time on improving his long putts – not much would have happened to his golf
So while, not knowing exactly which part of their game they need to work on or change is the first reason that most golfers don’t improve their golf
The second reason – that also doesn’t work too well – is the exact opposite
A golfer who tries to change a whole lot of things in their game – all at once
I’m going to take a look at why that isn’t a good idea either, as well as a few more reasons that most golfers don’t improve their golf in ‘A gradual approach to improving your golf – part two’ soon