There is one truth about golf improvement which is rarely talked about – It’s demanding time investment.
The hours and hours you must put in to see development can be disheartening for even the eternal optimist.
But this article is not going to focus on this negative. In this article I want to explore what I think is possible with your current time constraints, so you can:
- Set yourself more realistic expectations = more fun/better golf.
- Explore some ideas you can use to increase your time and optimize the time you have at your disposal.
I have split the article up into different ‘’golf time invested’’ categories.
The Once in a Blue Mooner’s
These are the guys who play or practice about twice a month or less. If you fall under this category – It’s going to be next to impossible to improve unless you happen to be a rare descendant of Tiger Woods.
As I am sure you are aware of – golf is tough – a few inches and degrees can be the difference between perfection and disaster, so playing this irregular is not going to be conducive to improvement.
Playing every few weeks on the course gives you nowhere near enough playing time momentum to start to build from each round.
Of course, you can still play good golf relative to your level. But I see far too many golfers in category get so frustrated with themselves when they hit a few bad shots.
Maybe they played more in a previous life and they expect to hit the level they once had.
In my experience, this is not going to happen and the more you let these delusions filter into your mind, the less fun it will be.
Golfers in this category would be far better off just viewing golf as an opportunity to have a bit of fun.
To diminish any expectations from their game and they’ll not only enjoy it far more – probably play better as well.
In my mid-twenties, I basically gave up the game due to sheer frustration of not reaching the level I had expected of myself.
But when I did come back for the odd round, I at least made sure I set my expectations to basically zero. I hadn’t hit a ball in months – so there was very little chance of me being the player I once was.
Usually with this mindset, the round turned out better than I expected and sometimes it looked like I had never been away.
Expectation management is the biggest factor for golf enjoyment. Quite simply, if they’re unrealistic then enjoyment levels decrease, so it’s very important to have a solid perspective on yours, especially if you fall into this category.
The Slow Goers
This category is where I think a lot of golfers are sitting. On average, you get to the range once a week and play golf on a Saturday or Sunday with your pals.
If you are sitting in this category, it’s again key for you to manage your expectations.
I am going to be honest with you – I don’t think you can expect to make huge strides in your game only putting in this amount of time.
I am definitely not saying you can’t improve, but I think you can expect it to be slow going.
A couple of shots per year off your handicap depending on your level is a good and realistic target.
- For a 5-handicap, getting down to 4 would be possible and a good achievement with this investment.
- If you’re off 20 you could expect to get down to 17 or 18.
- If you’re a total beginner, then I think things can progress more quickly with this amount of investment.
I think in general, lots of golfers expect way too much from this category.
They expect to put in a solid range session on a Wednesday, play 18 holes on a Sunday, and expect to start seeing their handicap rocket down.
It’s just not going to happen that quickly from here, but if you do want to improve more rapidly, then here’s a few suggestions.
Time Saving Ideas For Your Home
Add in a practice facility at your home. It may not be as expensive as you think. Convincing the other half on the other hand could be your biggest challenge.
Purchase a putting mat for your home alongside a Puttout. You’ll be surprised as to what 10-15 minutes of practice a night can do for your putting.
Take exaggerated practice swings at home. If you’re having lessons and there is a particular move you’re working on, then you can speed it up by using practice swings without hitting balls. This is a method I have used for several swing changes and it definitely helps.
Training aids like the orange whip can be used anywhere and can definitely add another dimension to your practice.
Use the Strokes Gained Function to Your Advantage
Start taking stats from each round is a great idea, so you can optimize your practice sessions to work on things which will give you your most bang for buck.
With the ‘’strokes gained’’ function, you can easily see which parts of your game are costing you the most shots. This is definitely something I will be focusing more on in 2019.
Trick Your Sub-Conscious
Practice some mental skills. Vizualisation has been proven to be incredibly successful in improving performance. A good strategy I have used in the past is to vizualise a full 18 holes of you playing your best golf.
Your sub-conscious doesn’t know the difference between real and imaginery, so keep feeding it imaginery brilliance and this will help with your real performance on the course.
Save Shots Here & There With Low Hanging Fruit
Focus on low hanging fruit. This is stuff that takes less time investment than overhauling your golf swing.
Aspects like, improving your course management – I have written some articles on this site which well help you make better decisions and can lower scores by a few shots depending how good/poor yours currently is.
Also, your short game is far less complex to improve than swing mechanics, so start to focus more of your attention there and you can save a few shots.
Stop Going Round in Circles
Stop looking for that one swing change, or swing tip that you think will change everything. I get the psychology behind this for lots of people.
Deep down, they know they haven’t got the time to improve quickly, so they go looking for something that they think will just stick.
In reality, this very rarely works and just ends up in a cycle of frustration, so don’t get sucked into this rabbit hole.
Get a Divorce
Give up something else. This may not be an option for you but to really commit to golf improvement, something else may need to give way.
Success in something always correlates with sacfiricice elsewhere, so if improving your golf is high on the agenda, something else giving way could be an option. By this – I didn’t really mean ditch your other half.
The Middle Men
If you’re in this category, you have more of an opportunity to improve. These guys get to practice around 2-3 times a week and get to play once or maybe even twice a week.
This is where I am sitting at the moment and it has added another level of motivation. I can commit to swing changes, and although improvement still isn’t rapid, I can feel like improvement is certainly very achievable putting in this amount of time.
But lots of people who can play this much and do want to improve, waste the chance.
- This could be because they aren’t working on the right things in practice.
- They spend too much time just machine-gunning balls into an open field without a great deal of intention.
- They might spend too much time trying swing tips which have little relation to their swing.
Whatever the reason – lots of guys who play this amount – aren’t making the most of it.
I believe if you’re in this category and you seek the correct direction. Ie you are having coaching and addressing your core issues and you are making the most out of the time you have on the range, then improvement will come.
So, If you are one of the guys who is practising this much, but not seeing any improvement, then you probably need to start asking yourself better questions before each range session/practice session.
What is the goal of this session?
It’s important to go into every ball with real intent. There has to be a clear purpose as to why you are there.
For my own game, I like to split my sessions into two parts. 1st part – the session is technical based, so I will film my swing and work on my drill to improve the mechanics.
2nd part I play a golf course on the Top tracer. In this part, I ignore mechanics and the sole purpose of this is to practice in a much more random manner, so I can train in a much more performance orientated way.
Training in this way has been proven to allow you to retain more of what you have learnt in your practice sessions so you can perform better on the course.
For lots of golfers, their performance tends to be chalk and cheese from the range to the course, and a lot of this is because they do not train in a way that resembles ‘real golf’.
Your sessions may look slightly different, but the key similarities are, it must have intent and must be moving the needle in your favour. Just hitting balls isn’t going to cut it.
The Lucky Ones
Now if you are sitting in this category – then screw you.
I am only joking you lucky sod.
These guys are getting some golf in pretty much every day.
This is where I began when I was 12 years old. I had no worries, no kids, no job other than a paper round, so my mum used to drop me down the club at 8am and pick me up at 8pm.
So, by the time I was 15, I was a 2 handicapper – which with the amount I was playing, I see now as a bit of a failure.
I wasted so many practice sessions just aimlessly busting balls with no intent, but the sheer amount of practice and lessons still got me down to a decent level.
A level I pretty much been able to maintain ever since with much less time investment.
But if you are sitting in this level and you optimize the things I have discussed above, then of course, improvement will be much quicker.
Everyone talks about swing tips, course management, mental game etc, but in reality, none of this matter’s without this key and most precious variable we have, time.
So many golfers get upset with themselves and then when you ask when they last played.
‘’Hit a ball 3 weeks ago’’
Lots of golfers get upset when they cant keep up with guys who are investing over the double the amount of time they are.
Expectation management I think is the one of the most important ingredients to allow you to enjoy your golf and maximise your performance.
If you’re playing once a week and you expect to shoot the lights out everytime, well you’re going to hate it and performance will suffer.
Whereas if you go in with the attitude of understanding the fractions between success and failure and then being able to contextualise this with the amount of time you invest, then you’ll find it much easier to accept bad golf.
You’ll find it much easier to swallow a poor round.
Delusional expectations just create more tension. Anytime you look into the future and have expectations that far out weight your current limitations, then you’re adding unnecessary pressure.
So, look at the amount of time you are actually putting into golf. Are things going well when you really think about? Could you optimize your time better? Could you add things in that I have mentioned?
Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below. Thank you for taking the time to read.
Currently a low handicap golfer who is striving to become a scratch player. I have a very keen passion for the mental side of the game as I feel this is holding lots of golfers back from fulfilling their potential (as it did me) and also stopping them from enjoying this awesome game it as much as they should.