If you are just starting to learn the game of golf, you probably want to get better as fast as you can.
The great thing about starting something new is that you can see improvement practically overtime you play or practice. If only this could last forever! After a while, you won’t see 1-2 shot improvements each week on average. You might see a one shot difference each month, or even each year. When you get to single and low single digit handicap, you might plateau for a long time, so don’t take your current improvement rate for granted.
In my opinion, one of the smartest things that beginners of any new hobby can do is see what regrets more experienced people have regarding when they were beginners. Researching things like “what I wish I knew when…” and “things that beginners should know” are great places to start.
This is one of those articles. But I think it can provide a lot more value that articles similar to it that you can find on other websites. For one, I’ve compiled this info from personal experience on my path to becoming a scratch golfer in 3 years, as well as from opinions of others that are far more experienced than myself.
This article is all about the most common mistakes that beginners make, and how they can fix them as quickly and easily as possible.
Not Playing From the Right Tees
The popular media campaign “Tee it Forward” has been my favorite one of all time. I personally think that a majority of golfers, especially new ones, play from tees that are simply too far back for them.
Here are some reasons that you should tee it forward:
- More enjoyable. More birdies —> more fun, less frustration
- Shorter rounds. Less time holding people up —> will cut some time off your and everyone else’s rounds
- Less balls out of bounds and lost in woods
To make the game more enjoyable, which is the whole point of golf, you should consider leaving their ego at home and playing from shorter tees. At the very least, don’t play from the tips unless you are a single digit handicap, and don’t play from the tees in front of the tips unless you are are below the age of 55. If you are above that age, take advantage and play from the third furthest back tees. You’ve earned the right to that advantage, so don’t actively turn it down.
As a beginner golfer or brand new golfer, I would suggest playing not from the tips, not from the tees in front of the tips, but the next set of tees after that. So the third set of tees from the back tees. Feel free to go even shorter than that if you want, especially if you are playing by yourself. Don’t be embarrassed in the slightest.
I challenge everyone reading this article to do themselves a favor. Take one round, just one round, and play from the front/ladies tees. We did this in high school, and it was very eye opening. It will teach you how to score. It’ll teach you how to become a better wedge player, and it will give you a different perspective of the course you probably play so often. Another thing that it will teach you is how fun birdies are, and you are bound to make some.
Deep down, you are probably a little afraid to do this. You might think someone else will see you. Or you might think you’ll realize that you are not as good as you think you are. To be honest, you probably aren’t, but that is OK!
Solution: my advice to you is to ask yourself if you are truly playing from the correct tees. Don’t get peer pressured by your friend to play from the back tees if you shouldn’t be. Tee it forward, and have a better time on the course.
Overestimating Your Club Distances
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve played with some of my friends where they constantly are coming up short of the green.
They will hit the ball, think they hit a perfect shot, then the ball falls 10-15 yards short of the pin but right on target. What’s the reason for this? Well, in their head, their 7 iron is their 160 club. They hit their 7 iron that far one time, so it must be their correct average distance! No, wrong.
Your “160 club” should be the club that you hit on average 160 yards, not the club that you hit 160 when you pure the shot to the best of your ability. That will mean that you have it to hit perfectly ever time to actually get it to the hole. You aren’t perfect, so don’t require perfection for a good result.
Deep down, similar to the last problem, the real problem here is the ego. You desperately want to believe that you hit your 7 iron that far on average. Then, your friends will think you are cooler. Or they will think you are stronger. Or they will think you are a better golfer.
Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. The only way you become a better golfer and really impress your friends is when you consistently start shooting lower scores. They don’t care how long you are hitting your clubs, and you shouldn’t either.
Solution: On a day where you have the course to yourself, complete a somewhat in-depth experiment. Make sure you aren’t on a slope or downhill or downwind or anything. Try to do it on a day where the wind is hardly existent. Take different clubs, lots of golf balls, and a rangefinder (if you have access to one) and hit balls. Mark the golf balls with dots on them, or figure out a different way to determine which balls you are hitting.
Measure the balls and see how far they are truly traveling. Preferably hit them to a green so that they aren’t just bouncing and rolling in the fairway. Hit many balls with the same clubs so that you can take their average. Determine your new golf club averages, and write down your new numbers on a sheet of paper or type them in your phone. Update them every so often to adjust for your improvements.
You might have to change your 7 iron from your 170 club (like you thought) to your 160 club (that it truly is on average). That way, you don’t have a demolish a 7 iron from 160 yards to get it there. Instead, you can hit an average 6 iron and get it perfectly pin high.