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If you are like most other beginners at the start of golf, a question might have hit you already. It is that “Why is golf so hard?” If that is indeed the case, there is nothing to be afraid of.
We will be talking about all the reasons that make golf a hard sport. Also, we will guide you over how to take the hard part away from the sport; and ultimately, make you a better golf player.
Golf started with just a simple leather ball and stick game back in the old days. Now it is one of the most sophisticated sports played in the world at the moment.
The sport did not have much popularity internationally until the end of the 19th century. At that time. the rest of the United Kingdom got the taste of this sport. Eventually, it spread to the United States and the British Empire.
The Idea of Golf
The concept of golf is pretty straightforward and simple. You get a large stick and a small ball. All you have to do is hit the ball with the stick into a hole. It does not seem to be that hard; does it?
However, when it comes to implications, it is a little more than that. The idea might be simple but there are other factors related to it. These factors affect the sport in multiple ways.
When playing, you have to consider the course mapping, distance from the target, wind direction and various other things. So, golf itself is not that hard but everything else related to it gives that hard factor.
Let’s discuss these factors in-depth to correctly understand the hard element of golf. That will give you an idea of what to expect and what to do.
Time and Practice
There was a rule made by the famous American author and psychologist, Malcolm Gladwell. He wrote about it in his book named “Outliers: The Story of Success.” It was the ten-thousand-hour rule.
The rule says that if you want to become an expert in any field of work, you need ten thousand hours in the area. The time spent in that field will need to be spent with focused practice.
Therefore, if you convert it to a yearly basis that is more than a year. You would have to practice with complete focus every day, 24 hours a day. Assuming that you have just started playing golf, you have an extremely long way to go.
Nevertheless, there is a catch to that ten-thousand-hour rule. According to a recent study done by Princeton University, the rule does not apply to everything. The rule only seems to work with skills or sports with limited variables.
For example, tennis, chess or badminton do not have many variables to work with. Now, if we look over to golf, it is not the same here. In golf courses, the conditions can vary from course to course at very high degrees. This is especially true if you are from the United Kingdom.
Golf’s hard factor gets higher when you consider the various skills required to play. To become a better player, not only you have to learn but also master them. You get long irons, chipping, driving, putting and bunker shots. All of these require different sets of skills to work with.
To perfect your skills, you would need about six hours a day of work. This is the least amount of time an aspiring golfer practices for every day. That is not entirely realistic for a person looking to take golf up as a weekend hobby.
Unless you are considering golf as a profession or post-retirement activity, this is going to take years to get right.
At first glance, golf does not appear to be very challenging physically. Yet, the golf can get as physically challenging as any other sport. If we compare golf with other games in terms of burning calories, we will understand better.
Many will mock golf saying it is not a proper sport. This is because it does not involve as much as running like other sports but the numbers above kind of statement are complete opposite.
During a full game of soccer, you burn about 930 calories. A 3-set game of tennis will burn 778 calories. In comparison, a single round of golf will burn 1700 calories for an average sized male.
Walking around the golf course with clubs and other equipment is supposed to burn about twice as much calories than soccer. As a result, a golf round might not seem very physically challenging, but it is.
We have only talked about how strenuous walking around the course can be. What we are overlooking is the fact that you have to hit the ball again and again. This very task adds up quite a bit to the moving around the golf course part. The combined physical skills required make the sport hard.
Along with all the moving around, you need to have strong muscles in the core, back, glutes and shoulders. This is not just to shoot at a long distance. Also, this is necessary to keep your swings at a constant.
Being fit in those areas help land a perfect shot towards the target. They help you to get a stable shot throughout the backswing as well as the downswing. Even the smallest amount of error would throw you off the target. This is due to golf being a sport of precision.
Physical or athletic ability alone does not make golf so hard. If not more, mental requirements are just as much challenging. If you want to master golf, you cannot just improve one or the other.
A balanced improvement of both of the skills is what is required to make you a better golfer. The smallest change in your thought when you are taking a shot can change the shot. The adjustment from a second thought might cost you a shot or perhaps even a whole round. Thus, the hard part kicks in.
You will start realizing that a big chunk of the game requires your mental skills. You will do so quickly when you are just starting up as a beginner. There are a lot of books, guides or videos out there to guide to a better mental state for you. Same goes for golf mechanics books.
You will notice among the great golfers that they are very calm and composed even during the hardest parts. They seem to have gotten the mental part down.
This is that mental skill that allows them to keep calm during nerve-racking situations. Those situations like when they have to get a putt when millions are on the line; perhaps millions are watching him take the shot as well.
For beginners, it can be tough to do that when just two people are watching; even there is nothing on the line.
The hard part of golf is not letting the little things get to you. These are those second thoughts that creep up on you and make you reconsider your decisions. You start making up multiple scenarios inside your head about what might happen.
Consequentially you might start panicking and start making wrong decisions. Subconsciously you would start telling yourself that the sport is hard.
Often what happens with beginners is that they go to the golf courses with their friends. Sometimes they will make fun of you for missing or amateur postures.
As a result, it gets to your head, you miss more and your score keeps going up possibly ruining the whole round. In the end, you forget other things and start thinking that the sport is harder than it is.
So, yes the mental side of golf makes the sport very hard to master. As no other sport at a beginner level will have a mini crowd continually watching your every move.
You cannot emphasize enough on how important consistency is for anything. You take a perfect first drive on your first shot and get pretty full of yourself. Then you end up taking the next rides very sloppily.
No one is going to remember your initial drive after the sloppy ones. Similarly, your 10-foot putt will be a forgotten memory when you miss your easiest 3-foot putt.
The thing with golf and consistency is that it is not just limited to a single type of shots. To get good at the sport, you have to be consistent in every type of shots in different situations.
Combined with mental requirements, consistency can be strict to achieve as you go on tweaking your posture and movements with every shot unnecessarily. Your steadiness eventually jumps out of the train.
Accordingly, this requires you to not use your thoughts all the time but to turn them into habits. That way you can improve your flexibility but of course, there is a catch. Turning your bad posture or swings into habits will just add to the hard part of the sport.
Ever faced those situations where you have to catch a ball but you did overthink and drop it? When it was thrown at you without warning, you caught it with one hand. Golf needs that second part from you.
You have to make your swings and posture a second nature through practice. That way you are minimizing your error chances to the lowest. The best way to achieve consistency is by practicing proper techniques to the point you do not have to think about it.
When we talk about any kind of sports, we start by talking about the individual skills required for it. Usually, the amount of difficulty is changed by your skills and ability to reduce mistakes. In case of golf, perhaps more than any other sport equipment matters a great deal.
Buying an expensive driver might not make you the best player out there instantly but a bad one may make you a worse player than you are.
Throughout the past 20 years or so, technology has come a drastically long way in golf equipment. The equipment materials have changed and are lighter or even adjustable to some extent.
This is mainly in the case of clubs. If you change your clubs, you will probably see a significant improvement. The idea is to keep playing with the same club or equipment for some time to achieve consistency. Constantly changing material would just ruin the texture.
How to Get Good at Golf?
So far, we have talked about the reasons that make golf so hard. Now let’s see how you can deal with the problems to improve your skills and overcome the hard factor.
1. Break it Down
Nothing great was ever achieved in a day. The same goes for golf as well. You cannot just start playing hoping to hit a hole in two hits. You have to climb the ladders one by one. To master shots, you have to begin with mastering your posture and your swings.
Break down your swings into subdivisions and work on each of them over and over again. Try to get your stance right when addressing the ball before you start with anything. A strong foundation takes you a long way. From stance, move onto your backswing and then to your downswing.
Go through this one by one. Set up a goal for each of them and try to smash the goal before you move on.
2. Get a Teacher
You might be learning golf from the Internet or a friend. So, there is a chance you are not learning the techniques properly. As a result, what happens is that you are practicing the techniques wrong repetitively.
The flaws get engraved into your brain and muscles. Thus, your skills get limited and prevent you from becoming a better golf player.
The best way to learn is probably by getting a teacher. Find someone who has had years of experience in the field and has taught many people. A mentor will know what to do with your skills better than a friend or the Internet.
Teachers tend to understand what the student requires and what’s wrong the students are doing from the experience. Therefore, a teacher is recommended if you truly want to get better at golf and make it not so hard.
3. Physical Exercise
At first you might not feel comfortable doing turns to hit the golf ball. This is basically because your body is facing a new kind of posture. That’s why you need to warm your body up to get it ready for the exercises.
You can do these exercises every day at close intervals with each session taking about 10 minutes. Through these, you will be able to nullify the chances of hurting yourself.
Let’s talk about some exercises you can do that will help to get that flexibility to play golf properly. Do these exercises reasonably regularly to see improvements quickly. You can also do them only before your golf sessions.
These exercises are comparatively short in length. They will help you to improve your posture. Also, you will feel more comfortable doing stances and taking swings. The exercises will mainly focus on your core.
You will not only be benefitting in terms of playing golf but also you will improve physically. Even if you stop playing golf later on, the exercise benefits will help out in other aspects.
Following are the exercises to improve your core;
- Get into a normal swing stance. Find a Pavlov’s resistance band. Then use both your hands to hold the band firmly. Now pull the band and try to stay vertical to the point where the band is attached.
- After that, hold both of your hands in front and then pull the band back with your body rotation.
- You can improve your quads as well as your back doing squats. However, unlike in regular squats, use a chair or a bench as a reference for the squats. For better training, lift weights or wear weighted clothing during doing the squats.
Practice & Mental Development
It goes for anything you would want to learn that you have to practice! There is no shortcut to learning a skill properly other than practice. As the saying goes, “Practice makes perfect”, you can only become good at golf through practice.
The correct mindset and dedication will surely get you to your goal. You will finally start realizing that golf is not so hard.
As for mental ability, it is something you cannot train like your body. It will come to you over time. You will eventually be able to get to a point of complete mental calmness.