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Time on the practice range needs to increase performance where it counts -- on the golf course.
Time on the practice range needs to increase performance where it counts -- on the golf course. (Oleg Volovik/TravelGolf)

Why your golf game's not improving (and two tips that can help)

B.J. HathawayBy B.J. Hathaway,

Ah, the frustrations of golf.

Just when you reach the pinnacle, some little pebble displaces at the bottom and the whole works seems to drop beneath your feet. Or you never get there in the first place.

For most golfers the latter is the problem. You practice and things just don't seem to change. Why?

Before we attempt to figure it out, let's look at a team sport -- soccer.

What skills are required to be a "good" soccer player or at least make the starting team? Mainly running, dribbling, passing, heading the ball and shooting. If you were already a soccer player you probably acquired at least some of those skills well enough to make the team. If not you had to learn them through practice with the team.

What went on at practice? Running and fitness training to build endurance were first. Then you broke into groups to practice different skills like passing, dribbling and shooting. Next you would scrimmage to get real-time feedback.

This type of training took place every day during the season. And if you wanted to work up the ranks, you knew practice was necessary during the offseason as well. You had to maintain those skills and try to improve them.

Now let's look at golf. There are no teammates, no coach (unless you choose to have one), no fitness trainer and no water boy. It's just you.

Why aren't you getting any better?

Here are some reasons:

Lack of knowledge: I've been saying this for years. If you don't know what to do then you can't possibly expect to be able to do it.

Lack of understanding: For those stuck at this point, you may know what to do but just not how to do it correctly.

Lack of coaching: Golfers are a stubborn bunch. The belief that you can just figure this out for yourself may be correct, but it usually requires years of trial and error. Without knowledge and feedback, that can cause lots of frustration.

Improper practice: Many golfers who acquire the knowledge end up stuck here because they don't know how to practice. It's an unfortunate epidemic in golf. Hours are lost on the range doing things that have little relevance to increasing performance where it counts -- on the golf course.

Two ideas to get you on the road to better golf

So how do you get past these obstacles and get better? Here are two ideas that will get you on the road to better golf.

Get a coach: Although books, magazines and videos have their place in learning, nothing can replace having a qualified swing coach. A good coach has spent years studying swing methods through instructor-based training and the observation of thousands of golf swings. This experience provides a filter to sort through all of the information and condense it into what you need to know, when to disperse it and how to help you apply it. Yes it costs money -- so does everything else in this game -- but it's an investment in you and should be considered as such.

Learn the principles of practice: As mentioned before, all the knowledge in the world won't help you unless you know how to apply it. This is also an area that your swing coach can help you with and save you years of wasted time. A coach can show you what needs to be done and explain how to do it efficiently to get the most benefit.

Some of the best information I can give you was shared with me from my friends Dr. Rick Jensen and Charlie King. The golf swing is nothing more than seven essential skills blended into one motion. Accept this basic idea and find a good coach. He or she will help you sort through the information (and misinformation) and teach you what to do and how to do it. It really is that simple.

All the best in golf.

Over the course of B.J. Hathaway's career, he has established himself as the leading junior golf instructor in the Southeast and one of the leading mental golf coaches in the country. While working at Augusta Golf Instruction, he received the prestigious Master Certified Mind Factor accreditation; the first golf instructor in the U.S. to receive this advanced certification.

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • I agree

    ccnooy wrote on: Jun 24, 2012

    Proper coaching is essential in improving your golf game because you don't know what bad habit or mistakes you are making in your stance and/or club selection. And good coaching should help a ton if your basics need work.


  • Instgruction

    Chico Pineda wrote on: Jun 20, 2012

    When can WE get started? I'm tired of being in a rut!!! Let me know either via e-mail or cell phone, (706) 394-4818. Gracias - - Gringo


      • RE: Instgruction

        BJ Hathaway wrote on: Jun 20, 2012

        Let's set up a lesson for next week!