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Improvement - 1 Step at a time!

Updated: Mar 19, 2021

As golfers, let's face it, every single one of us would like to improve our game and shoot lower scores on the golf course!! That said, some golfers improve faster than others and in most cases many golfers simply remain at a standstill or even go backwards in an effort to make changes and improve. So what is the difference? Why do some people improve and some people don't?


This for me is always one of the biggest separators with students. Many come to lessons with a huge amount of initial motivation and even bigger expectations, however this can often create more problems than solutions. A prime example comes when players struggle to reach their expectations, their initial motivation tends to fade


The key to step one is to set realistic and achievable expectations from the outset. My recommendation is to put these goals down on paper and work through our goal setting sheet to help you create a clear pathway to achieve your desired goals. Ideally our 3 "Major Goals" will be difficult to achieve, however the smaller stepping stones & checkpoints will be achievable and regularly adapted to help you work towards your target goals.


This is certainly one of the most common missteps I see with most golfers, quite frankly we look around ourselves far too much!! We compare ourselves to friends, competitors and even sometime PGA Tour players! The issue with this is that everyone has different strengths and weaknesses, meaning that ultimately every golfers recipe to success is completely unique to them.


The single best comparison you can make, is quite simply to yourself! Essentially the goal is not to be like another golfer, but instead to simply be a better version of yourself as a golfer. As part of this process we must first look at where we are now, and then choose the areas that would be the easiest, and most valuable to change going forward.


When it comes to measuring improvement people generally either look at score, how they feel about their game, or potentially some will go as far as keeping the traditional statistics such as Fairways in Regulation, Greens in Regulation and putts per round. However these measurements can often be quite inaccurate when it comes to measuring improvement or isolating where problems may lie at various times. Inaccurate feedback and data can often be more destructive than helpful to our overall improvement.


Utilise an application or website that provides you with accurate data about your game, ideally the app/website will give you information on "Strokes Gained" which is widely accepted as the most accurate way of measuring each area of the game. I have used an app called Upgame for the last year or so and it has been hugely helpful for the students that I help. Putting in the data is simple and it gives me a number of markers from traditional statistics, to strokes gained and even dispersion charts that can be filtered to individual distances.


As golfers and emotional human beings we often see our last round as the most relevant, however for obvious reasons this is certainly not the case. Looking at one round tells you.... well what you did for one round! This type of short term outlook will rarely give you any kind of accurate information about your game.


Take a longer term approach and widen the net on how many rounds you are looking at before you make a decision on what to improve. Depending on how often you play, looking at 10 - 15 rounds should give you plenty of data to base your future plans on. The more accurate your assessment becomes, the more efficient you can be with your practice.


That brings us nicely onto our final difference, making the most of your practice! We would all love to have hours upon hours to fine tune our golf, however in reality most of us are limited to a few hours per week at best. That said there is no reason that smaller amounts of practice have to mean less improvement! The great thing about golf is that time does not equal improvement, it is a far more difficult formula than that!


Plan your practice sessions before you arrive to the range. My recommendation is to by a small notebook and write down what you want to achieve from your practice session, and isolate some tasks that you wish to go through before you ever arrive to the range or golf course. By doing this you are less likely to simply stand there beating golf balls until it is time to go home, and you can be far more efficient about the use of the limited time you have to practice! You can make this process even more efficient by reviewing each session with what was good about it, what could have been better and how you could make it better in future.

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