Jake was a competitive golfer for over a decade dating back to the days of being the Captain of his high school golf team. He has played more than 200 courses across 32 different states in the US. Now semi-retired, Jake continues to golf 3-4 days a week with a current 2 handicap, gives golf lessons to his friends and family, and provides a wealth of knowledge to Golf Circuit from his competitive playing days. Jake combines practical expertise with technical knowledge to create golfing strategies and training techniques for both beginners and scratch golfers.
Are you wondering “why do I suck at golf?” This article goes through all the possible reasons (and how to fix them.)
Golf is enjoyed by millions all over the world. Professionals and amateurs love the thrill of the challenge and the unpredictability of a round.
And although you love playing whenever you get the chance, there’s always that persistant question at the back of your mind when you’re five over on a clear and sunny day with no wind.
So, why do I suck at golf? Don’t feel bad. Golf is challenging at the best of times.
It is designed to challenge your mental aptitude, emotional control, and physical skill. So, read on for some of the top reasons and how you can fix them.
1. Golf is a Very Challenging Game
“This is a game. That’s all it is. It’s not a war.” – Jack Nicklaus.
You Find Golf Too Hard
You can spend your entire life playing golf, only to be at war with yourself. It is a challenging sport, there’s no doubt about that.
But it’s a game. And games should be enjoyed. Unfortunately, you probably find golf too hard because you are being too hard on yourself.
And if you fight with yourself, you see no opportunity for improvement. All you will succeed in doing is becoming angrier when you don’t see the results you want.
Therefore, you will never be good enough in your own eyes. Furthermore, the mental barrier you create for yourself will prevent you from improving, making it more difficult.
Tip: You Need to Challenge Your Perceptions
There’s a definite wrong way to play golf because it’s a physical game.
You need the correct stance, your hips turn, your legs flex, and you use almost every muscle in your hands during a swing. You also need to learn about clubs and striking techniques. But you need to challenge your perceptions of golf and how to get the perfect swing because the perfect swing starts in the mind.
You need to feel tall, feel ready and feel confident. Being confident in your ability allows you to keep the correct height while maintaining your arm width for following through.
2. Why Do I Suck at Golf? There’s a Lot of Skill, But Also Chance
“Golf is 90 percent inspiration and 10 percent perspiration.” – Johnny Miller.
It Always Goes Wrong
When playing golf, you can spend your life mastering your swing, emotions, and frame of mind. All of these will help you become a better golfer.
But even on the best of days, things can go terribly wrong. That’s because the variables of a golf game are infinite. Wind can suddenly pick up or change direction. The fairway might be slightly wetter than desirable.
Or a passing cart can completely put you off your swing. While golf requires a high degree of skill to accomplish a great outcome, there’s so much chance involved it can be like gambling.
Tip: Try to Compensate for Things You Cannot Control
Over 300 million golf balls per year go missing on courses all over the world. Most are from slicing and bad swings. But many are lost to the weather, wind, and even animals. These are things you cannot control but will hamper your efforts.
Additionally, some balls aren’t balanced properly, and bouncing is highly unpredictable. Take a step back, analyze what you think might happen, and compensate for it.
You can learn to listen for disturbances that might interrupt your swing, check your golf ball for weight issues, and feel for subtle wind direction and speed changes.
3. You Don’t Understand Your Golf Clubs
“The most important shot in golf is the next one.” – Ben Hogan.
There are Too Many to Choose From
The number of clubs can intimidate inexperienced golfers, especially when just starting out. Each club is used for a specific purpose, and you can have a hard time choosing what club is best for a given situation.
Additionally, you can only carry 14 clubs in your golf bag, at risk of a penalty for having more. The club limit means you must know which clubs to take before you tee off from the first hole. But which ones do you choose?
Well, that depends on what the day is likely to bring, the layout of the course, and the hazards.
Tip: Learn What Each One Does and When to Use Them
Knowing which club to use with so many clubs can be confusing. But you must learn about each club and when it’s appropriate to use them.
For the most part, they are ordered by the range you need. For example, you use a 3-wood for driving up to 210 yards and a 5-wood for 180 yards. 9 Irons are for shorter distances. Ranging from 2 to 9, you have long, mid and short irons.
Long irons go further and lower, while short irons range shortest with a higher loft. But you also need to learn to use all the different types of golf wedges (like the sand wedge, gap wedge, and lob wedge) for different approaches.
4. Your Clubs Don’t Suit Your Play Style
“Swing hard in case you hit it.” – Dan Marino.
Clubs Can be Too Long, Short, or Inflexible
An honest workman doesn’t blame his tools, but it helps to have the right ones when playing golf. There’s an astounding array of clubs out there to choose from.
Like anything, you need to find the right ones for you. Just because you like the brand or the color doesn’t mean you should buy the set.
Always try before you buy and make sure the golf clubs you get are the ones you need. Some brands make clubs from materials like graphite, while others use stronger metals. How a club is made affects how you use it.
And costlier doesn’t always mean better.
Tip: Get Measured and Find Suitable Materials
Fortunately, finding the most suitable golf clubs isn’t too tricky. But in addition to finding ones you like, you need to get measured.
If you can afford to get club-fitted, then go for it. A club-fitting will ensure you get the best clubs for your game. But you don’t need to get fitted if you don’t have the funds.
You just need to take some extra time when club shopping.
Look for clubs with a good length for your height, and pay attention to the club’s flex. You should also know that your swing gets slower as you age, so get checked every five years.
5. A Poor Golfing Technique
“I know I am getting better at golf because I am hitting fewer spectators.” – Gerald R Ford.
You’re Not Hitting the Ball Right
Although there is a proper golfing technique versus a poor one, every golfer’s style is unique. If it wasn’t, everyone would be equally as talented or equally as unskilled.
Still, you might not be hitting the ball correctly, and there are many reasons for this:
- It’s possible you were taught wrong. And if you are taught something the wrong way, you will likely keep doing it.
- You’re losing focus. Golf is a mental game as much as physical. You need to concentrate 100% on each swing of your clubs.
- You might just have a poor stance.
Whatever it is, you can work on it and improve your ball striking.
Tip: Try Variations of Different Techniques
You will only improve your technique by trying different things to find what works for you. With on-course and off-course practice, of course.
For example, you can work on your ball striking with flexible movement, hip rotation, and proper shaft lean on the downswing. But that is only one technique.
There are various methods for each part of the game, too many to put in this article.
For instance, there are three primary techniques for stance alone. Then there’s pre-swing work, controlling your clubface, and improving your swing plane.
6. Failure to Warm Up Before a Game
“The older you get, the stronger the wind gets; and it’s always in your face.” – Jack Nicklaus.
You’re Not as Relaxed when Playing
Most people are surprised just how physical golf can be when they take it up. While golf looks like a casual game, it is correctly considered a sport.
Mental and physical stress is part of the deal, and it’s up to you to learn how to manage them. You don’t need to be in great shape to enjoy golf because it’s not that kind of sport. But it does require vigorous movement of muscles and joints.
Golf Sidekick sums it up perfectly in the video below.
So, you will have trouble playing if you don’t keep your waist flexible, your knees in good condition, and your mental attitude towards competition and loss in check.
Tip: Develop a Warm-Up Routine
Because of the stresses involved when playing golf, you must develop a warm-up routine before playing. Light exercise and stretching will help loosen stiff muscles and joints.
In addition, you will get your body’s serotonin levels going, which increases enjoyment and reduces stress. It’s also good to have a whole game routine you can use between holes.
For instance, develop good stretching habits while walking, check your clubs for peace of mind, and work on your grip. Further, it helps to create a mental mantra or internal focus.
7. Not Challenging Yourself
“I never learned anything from a match that I won” – Bobby Jones.
Playing Against Inferior Opponents
Of course, you want to win. Winning makes you feel great because you get respect and admiration, and you think you did a great job.
But did you really do a great job, or are you unconsciously making things easy for yourself? People who like to win often play games they know they will win or surround themselves with inferior opponents.
So you will get the win you crave but never improve your game because your opponents have nothing to teach you.
You will learn more from a scratch golfer in one round than someone with a considerable handicap in a hundred rounds.
Tip: Play with Better Golfers and Learn from Them
An excellent way to get better at golf is to play with and watch people who are great at it.
When you play golf with a professional or someone who excels, you will subconsciously emulate their play and consciously pick up tips and new techniques.
So, to raise your game, make a point of booking around with friends (instead of playing golf alone) you know are far better than you are. Or perhaps join a team while on the course.
Remember, there’s no shame in losing to a superior opponent. But, over time, you will begin to see you play like them and improve your game.
8. Unable to See the Bigger Picture
“The first thing golf teaches is humility, the second; empathy, and the third patience.” – Kirs E Wilson.
Things Start Off Well Then Quickly Go Downhill
Golf can literally and figuratively be an uphill battle. Everything can start off well and then diverge into a nightmare of a game.
Knowing how to handle unpredictable events is part of the game. But sometimes, your games also unravel with each hole. Your swing might be acceptable one minute, then suck the next.
Putting is going well, but you’re slicing to the left with each tee drive.
And with each hole, you get more frustrated, end up inside your head, and your swing begins to suffer. But you can improve your game by focusing on individual parts of the whole.
Tip: Have a Plan for Your Game
Your games can go great or be a disaster when out there on the course. But with some planning and analysis, you can improve how you approach a given situation.
Of course, you can’t do it all at once because there’s too much to take in. But you can make mental or even actual notes of where you are going with your game.
You can identify the areas of your game that need the most improvement and get to work on them.
For example, if your drives are becoming shorter, or beginning to hook, practice at the range or consider a club-fitting.
9. Why Do I Suck at Golf? You Don’t Practice Enough
“The swing is never learned. It’s remembered.” – Bagger Vance.
Your Game Doesn’t Seem to Improve
For all the hours spent playing golf, your game can take a long time to get better. You can learn the proper techniques, get a feel for your clubs and learn to anticipate the variables.
But when it all comes down to it, your game can’t improve if you only play without practice. Golf is a game that can be practiced anywhere, so if you are serious about improving, you need to practice as much as possible.
Practicing golf should be done on and off the course. While you are playing, you are also practicing. A good golfer knows they learn something new every time.
Tip: Practice Proper Driving and Putting Techniques
There are countless parts to golf and improving your game. But the most critical is your driving and putting techniques.
You need to have the ability to adapt your driving and putting processes because every course is different.
And because of the infinite variables involved, no course ever plays the same twice. Fortunately, you can practice golf anywhere at any time.
10. Not Believing in Yourself
“There are no shortcuts on the quest for perfection.” – Ben Hogan.
You Are Close to Giving Up Your Beloved Game
It’s a common misconception that golf is a relaxing walking game for people with too much money or time on their hands. On the contrary, golf is loveable, challenging, and highly frustrating.
No other sport challenges your intellect, self-control, and physical acuity like golf. Therefore, like any sport, it takes time and patience to master.
You won’t begin golf and get good at it after five, ten, or even a hundred games. It can take a lifetime to master.
Not every game goes your way, and if you enjoy winning all the time, then golf isn’t for you. But you know you aren’t a quitter.
Tip: Accentuate the Positive Reasons for Play
You should not and cannot quit your beloved game because that’s not who you are. If you go through life quitting because you don’t win all the time, you will never get anywhere.
And golf is the same. It’s the challenge that drives your passion, and you will do well to remember that. Yes, the game can be frustrating, and you will definitely have bad games.
But remember the feeling you get when you drive a perfect 300-yarder down a fairway on a crisp spring morning. Or the rush of sinking a long putt.
It’s not that you suck at golf. Everyone does while they work on it.
You can play golf your entire life and not master it. This isn’t because you suck at golf. It’s because it’s a challenging game with many unpredictable variables.
But there are some reasons why your game is off. It could be that you don’t understand your clubs correctly or that your clubs don’t fit your play style.
Additionally, your techniques might be a little off, or you don’t have a way of getting in the zone.
Maybe you should play with superior golfers and learn from them while practicing when you can and always believing in yourself.