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Why am I so bad at golf?

  • 17-11-2021 4:30pm
    Registered Users Posts: 13

    I’ve been playing and practicing a lot this year and I just stay at the same level no matter what I do, I might even be getting worse the more I play. Typical score is a treble bogey. I feel like I am doing everything correct in order to improve, I’ve been taking lessons by different pga pros at times, I’ve been working on my swing at the range. I’ve been working on my swing at home in front of a mirror. When I practice I don’t just smash balls but I be working on different aspects of my swing and game. I practice short game twice as much as my long game. When I practice my long game at the range, I would hit about 2 bad shots out of every 10 shots. When I play on the course I hit a bad shot every 3 shots.

    Ive often stayed away from playing for weeks on end and just practiced short game etc, seem to be improving a lot, decide to go back to the course full of hope and then I stink the place out, and feel like walking off after 3 holes. I bleed shots everywhere really. Some holes I hit the driver into the trees, and have to hit out of thick rough sideways or backwards to get back onto the fairway. Other times I hit a perfect drive, then hit a good 2nd shot to be beside the green on a par 4, then slice my chip or duff it. My bad shots are everything really, I slice, I hook, I duff, I thin it. The golf I play at the range and practice area doesn’t translate to the course.

    Ive tried playing conservatively, hitting mainly irons, I’ve tried playing aggressively and everything in between, but my score typically ends up being the same no matter what.

    Any other sport I’ve played in the past I’ve got to a reasonable standard with minimal effort. I have put more effort and time into golf than any other sport and I am still so bad. I really don’t want to let golf beat me but recently I have began to feel like a gambler or addict who just doesn’t know when to quit.

    what do you guys think, is there any hope for me? Anything I’m missing? I’m clutching at straws here but I’m left handed playing with right handed clubs, should I play left handed clubs or is there plenty of good golfers who play with the wrong handed clubs? Also my irons are 40 years old (ping eye2s), would it be worthwhile for me to get fitted for clubs as a last throw of the dice? Or is it time for me to face reality that I will probably never be any good at golf.



  • Registered Users Posts: 20,494 ✭✭✭✭FixdePitchmark

    I think you have answered all your own questions. What is your handicap ?

    If you are that bad - I would go back to a pro and start over by playing with the right grip - with whatever side feels most natural

    After a few lessons and months of that consider equipment.

    You seem to have yourself beating psychological too - so you could try Dr Bob Rottella.

  • Registered Users Posts: 13 derambo

    I get a lesson every 4 weeks, both pros I seen were happy with my grip, stance, posture. On the trackman they were happy with the numbers for my swing path and clubface angle at impact, and swing speed was decent they said with some room for improvement. My handicap is 38. Will try out that book alright as I do tend to lose it a bit too easy once I hit a bad shot, but don’t think the mental side of the game is my biggest issue.

  • Registered Users Posts: 12,405 ✭✭✭✭El Guapo!

    The above seems like good advice. Might be a good idea to start again from scratch with a pro and iron out any bad habits you've developed.

    Bear in mind I'm new to golf so feel free to completely dismiss what I say.

    But if you say you're fine on the range and when practicing but it doesn't translate to the course then could you consider getting "on course" lessons. Some pros offer a lesson where they go around 9 holes with you and coach you along the way. This could help with some issues you may be having. Maybe with club selection, course management etc?

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,880 ✭✭✭RoadRunner

    "but don’t think the mental side of the game is my biggest issue".

    ^^ If you are a driving range hero but struggle on the course then mental side could be the only issue you have. Play practice shots with a competition mindset, and try play competition shots with a empty mind. If you are thinking about your swing on each shot and trying really hard. Then you may be getting in your own way. I'd second some of the Dr Bob Rottella books.

  • Registered Users Posts: 17,506 ✭✭✭✭Mantis Toboggan

    I'd be getting the clubs sorted first, 40 year old clubs don't sound great, much better forgiveness in the clubs these days. Re Left hand or right handed club's you need to figure this out, which feels more natural?

    Try to practice more on the course, play more casual rounds, driving ranges are big open fields and can often feel like you're hitting it straight but it's a different story when you have 25 meter fairways to land in.

    Don't put too much pressure on yourself, golf is one of the hardest sports to learn. It will take time, try to enjoy it otherwise it will drive you mad.

    Free Palestine 🇵🇸

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  • Registered Users Posts: 20,494 ✭✭✭✭FixdePitchmark

    If you going to pros off 38 every 4 weeks and they are happy - with room for improvement , they are taking easy money. If your off 38 - there is something drastically wrong.

  • Registered Users Posts: 33,067 ✭✭✭✭listermint

    Have you considered you don't actually like it ?

    Why do you play,

  • Registered Users Posts: 13 derambo

    I play because I love the game, it just doesn’t love me back

  • Registered Users Posts: 13 derambo

    They are happy with my swing path and clubface angle at impact, each session I’ve always different things to work on. Have had about 5 lessons so far. But no improvement as of yet.

  • Registered Users Posts: 13 derambo

    I would say playing right handed feels more natural as that all I know so far. Yeah think I will try playing more casual rounds than going to the range, it is easy to fool yourself at the range

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  • Registered Users Posts: 21 L2N


    Well you are committed...

    The first thing is to establish whether you are consistent or not.

    If you are not, then forget everything else and stick to one way of striking the ball. When you are consistent then you can try changing one thing. Stick with that for a while to see if it improves your game.

    Trying to improve something that is changing all over the place is impossible.

    In a game as complex as golf, your brain is really challenged because of all the moving parts. If you are adding to the load by thinking about lots of stuff too, then you will be frustrated. Very often thinking about your head, or hands, or hips, or feet while swinging blocks the flow. Brains work better thinking about results so just try and focus on the target and forget about everything else.

    You need to allow your brain to develop a consistent pattern so it can 'automate' it.

    Try to think less and enjoy the long walk.

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    If you haven’t got any major swing flaws maybe you are getting over technical and obsessed with form. With all you’ve learned try go out without any swing thoughts and just swing. You may be surprised.

  • Registered Users Posts: 457 ✭✭com1

    Feel free to ignore but I wonder whether you are trying too hard on the course. On a course I try to only have 1 thought in my mind when hitting the ball and that is to make good contact with it.

    I have made all my other decisions about the stroke before starting my swing (and generally before taking my stance), club selection, direction, distance, type of stroke etc. When I swing I just want to make a good clean contact with the ball.

    If I do that I am happy, if the ball goes the wrong way, or is long or short I don't blame my swing as they are decisions I made separately. This has allowed me to become a lot happier with my game and more consistent (I'm still rubbish but happier)

  • Registered Users Posts: 13 derambo

    Thanks will try that next time I’m out, recently I have been having way too many swing thoughts going on at once, instead of just focusing on the target

  • Registered Users Posts: 12,450 ✭✭✭✭prawnsambo

    I'd second the proposal about getting new irons anyway. It's not just that 40 years old irons are way out of date and probably not helping your game, but the grooves will be gone and there will probably be chunks out of them. And unless you've re-gripped them recently, they'll be gone too. The photo below is of Ping Eye 2 irons from 1982, not sure if these are yours, but they look like absolute tanks of yokes. 😲

    That's where I'd start. And get yourself fitted for them. Most iron sets can be fitted nowadays and it's free. McGuirks, Halpenny and probably lots of other places do this. Also, nothing like a shiny new set of irons to get your spirits up, especially if you've been through a fitting session with them.

    The other thing that will absolutely shave shots off your round is your short game. This is where 80% of shots are lost and where you should spend the most amount of time. Shots from 50 yards in are the ones that will make or break a round. Get out with your favourite wedge and putter and just keep practising with them. Even in the back garden, you can take short chips with a lob wedge. If you've a short game area in your golf club, throw out five balls into different lies - tight, rough, uphill, downhill and sand - and play them to one flag on the green. Then get the putter out and aim to get down in two at the most. Total it up and try to get to 15 strokes to hole all five balls and then get under that. If you've a mate, do it with them and make a competition of it. Rinse and repeat until you can confidently approach any shot from any lie with a firm idea of how you are going to play it and the confidence that you can.

  • Registered Users Posts: 20,494 ✭✭✭✭FixdePitchmark

  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 18,437 Mod ✭✭✭✭slave1

    If you are enjoying yourself then carry on, like is too short to get bogged down, if you hit a couple of satisfying shots a round then it's worth it

  • Registered Users Posts: 12,450 ✭✭✭✭prawnsambo

    One other thing I'd add (and it's part of the mental approach others have cited) is about the difference between your range sessions and when you play the course. On the range, the ball can go anywhere and still be a 'good' drive. There's no concern about it going left or right and as a result, you feel freer on the tee. Stand on a tee box with trouble on one or both sides and that freedom disappears and as a result, you tighten up and don't swing as freely as you would on the range. And invariably straight into trouble.

    Always after a range session, I will play a few holes to 'cement' what I've been doing on the range into my game off the tee box. It's fresh in my mind and I'm better able to commit to the shot. But if I do 'tighten up', I'm more aware of it because of the 'muscle memory' of what I was doing on the range a few minutes ago.

    Even to be aware of this when you're on the range is a help.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,422 ✭✭✭Ivefoundgod

    At 38 handicap I'd agree with most of the comments there although I'd avoid a fitting for another while yet but definitely pick up some second hand irons somewhere that are more modern, any of the PING G series, TM M2, M6 or that range would be a good starting point. If you know your swing speed you'll be able to figure out what flex you need but regular would be a good starting point I think. A decent driver will go a long way too, if your irons are 40 years old I'd imagine your drivers probably due a change. Again any of the 2nd hand G series Ping drivers or M1/M2/M5/M6/Sim etc will be decent. In my experience short game is a big issue for higher handicappers, if you are struggling with chipping and putting I'd focus on that over the long game. Even low handicappers struggle with long irons so I wouldn't be getting too upset about mishit 4/5/6 irons. You make the game very hard for yourself if taking irons off the tee as well, in general unless you are extremely accurate with the irons I would strongly recommend taking driver off the tee on anything but the shortest of par 4s.

    Not sure what age you are but plenty of people playing golf for years off high 20/early 30 handicaps and enjoying it so I wouldn't be too hard on yourself just yet. Golf is extremely difficult if you are coming to it without any sort of background (Pitch & Putt or hurling etc) and it takes time to get the hang on. I wouldn't give up, especially if you love the game, we all have to start somewhere.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,095 ✭✭✭wildwillow

    Newer clubs would be my first thought. Then play lots of casual rounds over the winter, even going out for a few holes on your own. The driving range is so different to playing the course.

    Presuming you are a member of a course, try for quiet times and play the shot more than once if there is no one waiting behind.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 2,680 ✭✭✭dan_ep82

    Play 3-9 holes instead of range time.

    Playing lessons if your going to take them, my alignment was crap on course and was perfect on the range. Small things like that can make a difference.

    Try an easier course if your own is tough.

    I've seen and played with high (28+) handicaps that could hit really good shots but there was always something stopping them from scoring better.

    Sure for some it was their form would fall away mid round(or even mid hole) but for most it was something easier to fix. Most would have been attitude, they would hit a bad shot(s) and lose focus and make a poor decision or not commit to the next shot and this would be the form they would finish the round on.I'm not saying they would shoot level par if they kept their head on but they could probably scrape 33pts if they really tried. Others they would have glaring issues with their short game or irons but wouldn't be able to see it and would blame something else.

    Where are you based?

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,884 ✭✭✭DuckSlice

    You are committed to the cause anyway so fair play.

    I'd like to understood what your bad shots are. Are the chunks/thins? or way off line? Id second the advice above of playing more rather than going to the range. Get off the mats as they are too forgiving when you are at the range for your irons. You could catch a ball heavy off the mats and still travels well. so when you are off the mats you need to be watching out for that and where your low point is.

    Also you say you hit 2 out of 10 bad shots at the range but 1 out of 3 bad shots on the course, is that really that much of a difference? That's 2/10 vs 3.33/10. not a massive difference if you ask me. An extra 10 shots in a round of 100 I suppose though.

    There is probably some low hanging fruit you could work on that would make you improve very quickly. On average you get a triple bogey, how many of those shots would be putts on average?

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,880 ✭✭✭RoadRunner

    You're going to get bits of advice from different people that conflicts with each other, as an example I'd suggest that ping eye2 irons are actually fine irons to learn on. Forgiving and way ahead of their time when they were released. Feel free to upgrade to a newer set if you can afford it, but don't expect new irons to be "the answer". New irons sometimes make you play more and practice more because they are nice and shiny and new and that may help you to improve.

    Lessons are the right way long term, bear in mind that with lessons it's almost always a step backwards initially before the instructions bed in and you can utilise and actually trust what you've been taught.

    Every single shot you hit good or bad is a learning experience. Try to understand where on the club face poor shots are, and understand the feel. Learn what a "thin" shot feels like and notice how it flies lower and feels a little sharp on your hands. Fill up your database.

    Lastly, whether or not you like it, it's pretty clear you've been bitten and you're in this for the long-haul. Later on when you are off single figures, you'll have a good frame of reference and your learning experiences will help you appreciate the journey that took you to single figures 😀

    As an aside, in an earlier time my enjoyment of snowboarding was made way better by how tough and sore my learning experiences were. Every mountain traversed was so much more satisfying with a frame of reference of how horrid my first few days were and how I progressed. Golf is like that.

  • Moderators, Education Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 10,036 Mod ✭✭✭✭artanevilla

    Where are you losing shots? Are you hitting fairways? Are you dropping shots around the green? Are you triple putting?

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,577 ✭✭✭coillcam

    Lads do you seriously think spending a grand on newly fitted clubs will make a big difference? Personally, I think this is a massive waste of money. The only caveat here is if the OP is an outlier in being exceptionally tall or short and the clubs need to be fitted to suit. Those clubs could still be sourced 2nd hand anyway.

    OP, I have a few suggestions for you.

    1. Clubs: Do upgrade to modern clubs. Pick up something from the last 5 years on adverts/donedeal and it will be much easier to hit with better distance. A very rough guide for shaft flex based on a "good" relatively straight drive. Over 220 yds is stiff flex, anything less is regular. If you are getting on in years, senior flex might be best. There are very good condition iron sets regularly on adverts for €250-€300 that would suit you. Also, 4,5 hybrids and 7 woods are VERY forgiving. Well worth replacing long irons and take any forgiveness or help you can get.
    2. Safe Tee Club: Bin the driver until you're completely confident about it. Pick anything from 7 iron up that you can feel comfortable with and can keep in bounds while advancing 150 yards. I played for weeks with a hybrid or 6i at the start of this year as I couldn't hit driver/3 wood at all. Found it saved me at least 3-5 shots per round at that time. Gave me great belief and confidence. Headworms gradually disappeared and I actually got really good with the hybrid from using it so often.
    3. Lessons: You mentioned trying different guys. Pick a pro that you feel good with and trust. Stick with them and if at all possible get them to do an on-course lesson a couple of times. You might only have enough time for 3-4 holes but it would be an invaluable experience for you. Space out the lessons to let the tips and muscle memory set in. Two or even a three week gap is grand. Though you may prefer to buy a package and go once per week, YMMV.
    4. Practice: Keep at it regularly. To really progress, 2-3 times a week is ideal and manageable (without getting a P45 from a SO). Once for short game and once for irons/long game. Practice putting stroke at home with a trainer/returner (cheap as chips). Where possible get off the mats and strike from real grass/turf for your practice (some ranges or golf clubs have grass areas to practice on). Mats give little feedback and a false sense of striking the ball well. Be prepared to find practising from the turf more difficult but WAY more beneficial in the long run. Also playing 9 holes regularly might be advisable compared to an occasional 18. Especially if you're getting pissed off and not engaged on the back 9.
    5. Realistic Expectations: Not everyone will improve to be a low handicapper/scratch golfer. Your HC gives you 2 shots on most holes and 3 shots on the 2x hardest ones. Based on that a triple bogey is very much exactly where your handicap is at. Don't be too hard on yourself here. I play off 16 in local comps and always need to tell myself to cop on when I make a double or triple - I'm always going to make at least 1-2 per round.

    I've mentioned him before and I'll mention him again. Golf Sidekick (Matt) on youtube has a great philosophy and entertaining way of presenting strategies to improve to break 100/90 etc. The Way of The Playa - sounds cringey but it's legit and does work. The breakthroughs are genuinely achievable. Worth a look and I've found his content invaluable: and

    I started last year with 110+ being a regular score and broke 100 after a few months, finally shooting a 90 close to the end of the season. This year I've shot mostly low 90s, high 80s and even an 84. Probably at a plateau now and would take a lot more work to improve further. For context, I took up the game in my mid-30s and was previously a very average club level hurler.

    You can definitely improve I'm 100% certain that with time, lessons and practice this will come to you. Good luck to you and I look forward to you posting again in the new year when you've knocked some strokes off that handicap.

    Post edited by coillcam on

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,581 ✭✭✭willabur

    loads of great advice here.

    One thing I would add is to break the round down for yourself. If you aren't doing it already then focus on playing the same course over and over.

    write down a strategy for each hole where you comfortably bogey the easiest 9 holes and double bogey the hardest 9. Take the big miss out of play with each shot, aim for the fattest part of the fairway and the green always. Avoid danger, hit away from it

    Around the greens play with the flattest club you can. Putt whenever you can, if the grass is short then you need to be putting. Chip with you 8 iron, get the ball on the ground and rolling.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,400 ✭✭✭Deeper Blue

    I'd just stick to one pro for the lessons

    I've always found going to multiple pros can put too many different ideas in your head

  • Registered Users Posts: 14,155 ✭✭✭✭callaway92

    Hate the ‘bin the Driver’ advice.

    Use your Driver and keep using it including in lessons.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,422 ✭✭✭Ivefoundgod

    Agreed, making the game so much harder on yourself. Every stat going shows the benefit of distance off the tee so as Callaway92 says use it, keep using it and if you can't use it get lessons until you can.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 385 ✭✭Skyfloater

    If you're range hero course zero, I would suggest it's partly alignment. On the range the mat does it for you. Even after 25 years plus I can be on the course, put the club down at my feet and find myself aiming 30 yards right.