How to decide when to change something in your golf game.
Recently, I was talking with a golfer who had just played a game of golf which resulted (in their eyes) in a very poor score for them.
When I say in ‘their eyes’, it’s because the golfer played on a very low single figure handicap, which meant that a score that was made up of 6 pars and 12 bogeys was much higher than the sort of score they would normally have.
However, as you may be aware, 12 over par for a round of 18 holes is still quite a bit lower than the average golfer would have for most rounds, so it was really only a poor score from that golfers’ perspective.
It’s the sort of thing that a lot of golfers experience every week and it got me to thinking, that most golfers react to a game where they score much higher than usual by trying to work out what they ‘did wrong’ and then changing something in their game.
Usually, those changes involve technique or trying ‘something new’.
So, I asked the golfer if I could go over a few things about their game and themselves to see if I could be of any help.
In other words, I wanted to find out if there were some things that weren’t directly related to the golfer’s technique that had contributed to it.
Firstly, I noted the weather conditions.
It was a very windy day, with the wind direction being a little different than normal for the course, which made a lot of approach the shots subject to strong crosswinds – 13 out of the 18 holes in fact.
This meant the course was playing considerably more difficult than normal.
Secondly, the golfers physical state.
It turns out they had been doing some heavy landscaping work around their home a few days beforehand, as well as spending the morning before playing doing all sorts of physical things like mowing the lawn and stacking firewood.
Logically, that would have had an effect on their body in some way, probably making it a little tight and inflexible.
From there it transpired that the golfer had re-injured an old back injury a month or so earlier, which was no doubt having an effect on their ability to turn through their full range of motion.
If you want a little golf analysis from that, it was causing them to hit weak, push fades.
Not the ideal shot to be hitting in strong winds or anytime really!
I then asked about the golfer’s current form.
Their previous game had been 10 days earlier and was a reasonable round of one over par, consisting of 11 pars, 4 bogeys and 3 birdies.
During which they had hit a lot of good shots and holed some good putts.
That to me, meant that heading into the round they had just played, there weren’t any massive technique problems or concerns about their game.
So, let’s summarise my findings – the wind was making the course play much harder than usual, the golfer had been doing a lot of physical work and was carrying a back injury that was producing a less than ideal shot that day but up until that round the golfer had been playing okay.
At this point, I’m pretty sure that like me, you are probably not surprised the golfer had the score they did in that round but that is not how most golfers would view a game like that.
They would no doubt, spend a significant amount of time deciding whether the poor round was due to their grip or their left elbow or whatever other body parts they think they can have control of when hitting golf shots.
Once they had figured that out, they would rush out to the driving range, the practice area or the golf course and change something.
Which would create a new set of problems!
And on it goes.
Different problems arrive.
Still playing poorly.
Change something else.
Another set of problems arrive.
Still playing poorly.
And finally, another frustrated golfer ready to give up golf!
So, next time you have a round of golf in which you score poorly before you do anything else.
Take some time to sit for a few minutes and consider everything that would have contributed to that performance in the 2 weeks leading up to your game.
Did all the other things you have to do in everyday life contribute to your score?
Did you have great preparation?
Was the weather poor – cold, raining or windy?
Did you play at a different time than normal?
Were you in top physical state?
How about your mental state – were you ‘ready to play’?
Or did you rush to the course and jump on the tee?
Were there any significant shot problems – like shanks, tops, and hooks?
Or did you just hit a bunch of shots that were ok but not great?
Nine times out of ten, your poor round will be a result of a combination of some or all of the above factors.
Some of which you will be able to control and some of which you probably won’t be able to but none of them would indicate a need to change anything in your game.
It just means you are human and playing a game, which on that day wasn’t so good.
And it happens to all of us occasionally.
Ian Hardie is Golfer Pacific’s Golf Professional contributor. He is Club Professional at Omanu Golf Club in Mount Maunganui. Ian’s time is split between the pro shop at the club and helping people to improve, while enjoying their golf more as a result of his golf coaching. Over the past few years, in an effort to help as many golfers as he can, Ian has been sharing his common sense golf advice with golfers around the world through his website golfhabits.com. With over 500 articles to read, it’s a great resource for any golfer looking to improve their golf game.