7 Reasons You Don't Get Better At Golf

In this video, Neil Tappin is joined by PGA pro Alex Elliott to discuss seven reasons why you don't get better at golf

7 Reasons You Don't Get Better At Golf
(Image credit: Future)

Often golfers practice in a way that actually does more harm than good. In the video and article below, Neil Tappin and PGA professional Alex Elliott discuss those points, dispelling myths and offering some simple pointers for how to avoid falling into these traps...

7 Reasons You Don't Get Better At Golf

1. Practising on the course

On the course practice is crucial but it's something many people get wrong. Many golfers treat everything like a competition, whereas if you are playing with friends or playing by yourself then it is time to hone your skills.

A tip that Alex gives is to open up the note app on your phone and write down the four shots you want to hit. Then put a tick if you have a realistic chance of hitting the shot, and another tick if you pull that shot off. This will give real-time feedback for what shots work well, and what doesn't.

Why not use this to develop a shot you can rely on under pressure? It's one of the many things tour players do that you don't.

2. Closed practice

Many people when going to the range will hit the same club at the same target time after time. While repetition can be good, it should also be blended in with random practice. Instead of hitting an endless stream of drivers, why not spend some time at the short-game area working on how to spin the golf ball.

Alex likes to do five-ball sets. The first three are in a closed environment, drilling a swing to a target. Then for the final two he likes to change target, change task and set himself an objective like one he might face on the course - i.e. shaping a shot to a tight flag.

3. Not knowing your game

Misdiagnosing what you are good and bad at on the course is a common trap people fall into, which results in players working on the wrong things. Taking a little bit of time to look at your game in detail, and being honest with yourself, will help you develop a more efficient method of practising - like this 60-minutes short-game practice routine.

7 reasons you don't get better at golf

It's vital mix up your practice, focusing on your weaknesses as well as your strengths

(Image credit: Kevin Murray)

4. Boring practice

You need to find a way of making practice exciting so it becomes something you've got an incentive to invest time into. Most amateurs practice monotonously, which is not conducive to improvement.

Something Alex advocates is the nine-shot drill - one of the most popular drills on tour. It involves hitting a draw, fade and a straight shot hit with low, medium and high trajectories. Alternatively, for the mid to high handicapper, end a range session by picturing yourself playing holes at your club, preferably a par-4 and a par-5 so you have a variety of shots to play.

Visualising the shots you want to play and attempting to hit them on the range could really help your game.

5. Goal setting

Many players seek to make big leaps in their games which may not be realistic or achievable in the short term. For higher handicappers, it might even be worth considering why par doesn't matter and how it could be ruining your game.

A better way to create goals is to make them bite-size. The best players often speak of improving one aspect of their games in order to improve the whole. So if you set yourself a small target like improving your fairway wood address position, for example, you will give yourself a better chance of achieving the bigger goal of getting a lower handicap.

6. Practice games

Playing games during practice is something a lot of people don't do, but it's a great way to add an element of competition and pressure. A good short-game one is the up-and-down challenge in which every 'hole' you play, the par is 2 - and you can apply this to pitching and chipping.

One of the best things to do is, during a practice round, put yourself in the typical scenarios you find yourself in and test yourself by playing the game above. Once you've set a benchmark, you can set about trying to beat it.

7. Practising what you're bad at

We all have parts of our games that we do not enjoy working on but doing so is important if we want to improve. For example, at the range we stand and hit our drivers and irons over and over, but rarely do we go and work on improving our ability to get up-and-down from the bunker.

Alex's two tips for working on bunker play relate to the set-up and the feeling through the shot. At address, feel like the tailbone is a lot lower because this will lower the club and the hands and create a shallower club arc to the ball.

The second tip is to imagine a smiley face on your club and when you are playing the shot try and get it facing back at you. If it is not bunker play you need to work on, find other parts of your game that need attention.

Sam Tremlett
Senior Staff Writer

A golfer for most of his life, Sam is a Senior Staff Writer for Golf Monthly. 

Working with golf gear and equipment over the last five years, Sam has quickly built outstanding knowledge and expertise on golf products ranging from drivers, to balls, to shoes. 

He also loves to test golf apparel especially if it a piece that can be used just about anywhere!

As a result he has always been the one family and friends come to for buying advice and tips.

He is a graduate of Swansea University where he studied History and American Studies, and he has been a part of the Golf Monthly team since December 2017. He also previously worked for World Soccer and Rugby World magazines.

Sam now spends most of his time testing and looking after golf gear content for the website. He also oversees all Tour player content as well. 

Unfortunately, Sam is not a member of any club at the moment but regularly gets out on the golf course to keep up the facade of having a handicap of five.