Being a beginner in golf is truly a unique place. Golf is arguably one of the hardest sports to learn and play at a high level, so beginner mistakes are the rule rather than the exception.
If you’ve already taken up the game, remember that time you hit a beautiful long straight drive? Or remember the first time you sank that putt from 35 feet? Those kinds of adrenaline rush are what makes golf really unique, and addicting on its own.
As a beginner, there are a lot of things you will need to focus on improving, yet you shouldn’t be intimidated with all the difficult jargon and techniques used during the game. In the end, what you really need to focus on boils down to just three main areas.
First is the long drive. You will need to improve your swing speed to be able to get your clubhead speed to at least 70 miles per hour, building both control and dexterity to finally hit that 100 mph mark for males, or 80-90 mph for female players.
Second is improving your short game accuracy, from high wedge shots to perfecting your shots with the irons.
Third, of course, is the putting game.
If you truly focus on those three key topics, your dedication will surely pay off in the long run.
Yet, even with proper determination and focus, there are a lot of common mistakes a lot of beginners make that hinder their progression as players.
Today we will discuss five of the most common mistakes beginners make in golf, how they may affect your game, and how you can improve your bad habits with simple and easy to use approaches. Many of my students improve by simply fixing one or more of these mistakes, so I felt that it’s important to first address whether you are doing these mistakes before we move on to any other topics.
Remember, that the first step to improving is to admit your mistakes, so even if you think you don’t make the same mistake, read along — you might gain some new insights.
Mistake 1: Improperly Fit Clubs
It is very important to get clubs that are properly fitted to your current skill level, swing speed, accuracy, and many other factors.
Perhaps you find a set on sale online, a great bargain. At the other end of the spectrum, you might think that buying the most expensive, high-end club set a lot of PGA Tour players use will guarantee to improve your game.
If you keep having troubles with your swing, the first thing you should check is whether your clubs are a good fit for you. Also, if you hit a wall in improving your game, it’s a good time to upgrade your clubs.
In most of the cases, golf clubs will always have two different spectrums: forgiveness vs control. A forgiving club will usually come at the sacrifice of shot-shaping control, and vice versa. As a beginner, you would want to have the right amount of forgiveness in your clubs. Besides getting better, we still want the occasional moments of greatness, and that’s why club forgiveness is important.
Another common mistake is using the wrong shaft. Often overlooked, having the right shaft can significantly improve your swing.
A lot of articles here at Golf Tips Magazine have also discussed how to choose the proper club for your game. You might for example want to check this page on golf drivers.
Mistake 2: Having The Wrong Learning Approach
Yes, there is fun in learning a lot of things by yourself, and being self-taught surely has its own merits. You might also think that with the more accessible information from YouTube or Google nowadays, it’s not necessary to get a professional help.
However, one thing you should remember is that golf is a very diverse game, and there will be a lot of different philosophies and approaches from different people. Jumping from one video to another, or one tip to another might confuse your focus, and ends up delaying your progress.
It doesn’t have to be a lesson with professional trainers, which, I will admit, could be too expensive for many players. If you have issues with budget, you can ask for the help of a knowledgeable friend or family member. Online lessons or videos are definitely an option, but remember, it’s better to stick to one plan and take a step by step approach.
Having your lessons from a professional trainer, or even better, a certified PGA professional certainly has its advantages. They can improve your individual game with a personalized approach, fixing your weaknesses and emphasizing your strengths as you go.
It is also generally better to have a trainer as early as possible before you accumulate bad habits. Remember the old sayings: old habits die hard, and it’s a lot easier to build good habits from the early stage rather than fixing your bad ones.
It’s important to have a learning plan and stick to it, and unless you can get that plan going in your self-taught approach, it is better to get help from others.
Mistake 3: Maintaining Your Club’s Grooves
Ever got that hit when you are 100% sure it’s well-struck with applied backspin, but the ball simply lands without any spin? Yes it might be the ball, yes it might be your club, and yes, it might be your technique. But before you look further, check the grooves of your club whether it is properly neat and clean.
Don’t underestimate the importance of the clean grooves, especially with lofted clubs. Clean grooves will significantly allow better control of your spin and can produce more spin on impact. Check out this short video by Mark Butler to check your grooves’ conditions and how to clean them.
Take time to clean the grooves after every shot, and make it a habit. Also, clean the grooves before you begin your game and every round. If you feel performance and spin starting to fall even when it’s clean, then it’s time to get a re-groove at your local pro golf shop.
Also, although sometimes it’s tempting, avoid the use of groove sharpener. Not only it can cause corrosion faster, depending on the material of your club, overusing it may also be illegal depending on your local golf rule.
Mistake 4: Not Enough Practice Time
Yes, the driving range is a completely different ball game compared to the course, and you may ask: If I already have enough time in the golf course, why would I need the driving range?
First, the driving range is most of the time a cheaper option, and getting better in golf is not only an investment in time but also in your bankroll. As a beginner, you will need a lot of practice, and if you can spend the same amount of money to attend the golf course for 10 driving range sessions, then the driving range is certainly the better option.
Second, you can hit dozens of balls, or even 100 a lot faster than on the golf course, without any peer pressure. There’s an old saying that to get better at golf you will need 10,000 shots. There you go, you will certainly achieve that faster in the driving range.
Another common mistake is that players often focused too much on their driver and fairway woods when they are in the driving range. Remember that practicing your mid to low irons and pitching are equally important, so plan your driving range practice properly.
Take the driving range as a piano practice, and the golf course as a piano recital. Ask any experienced pianist, and they will know that practice is supposed to be repetitive, boring, and often painful. By the time that recital came, they are ready to play with heart and passion, because the repetitive and boring part are done during their practice.
Remember, if you want to get better, you should differentiate between practice and playing.
Mistake 5: Overemphasis on Distance and Power
Over the past few decades, the game of golf has evolved, and distance has replaced finesse and accuracy as the number one thing golfers are after. You can also see how so many of modern club equipment are designed to maximize distance, and how all the manufacturers have all the talk about increasing maximum distance each and every year.
After all, nothing gives the best adrenaline rush than a beautiful, well-struck 270 yards drive.
As a result of this trend, many newer players have the tendency to swing too hard. Although the common perception is that if we swing hard enough, the ball speed will also increase. In reality, it can be counterproductive to your overall distance.
When you swing too hard, you can lose your balance and tempo, and maintaining the rhythm of your swing is especially important to produce both distance and control. Swinging too hard will also have the tendency to stretch your upper body, causing you to miss the center of the ball.
Don’t forget another bad habit: when you swing too hard, you often close your eyes in reflex. Maintaining concentration and eye contact is also essential in gaining distance without sacrificing accuracy.
As a beginner, your primary focus should be on the consistency of making that well-struck hit on the center, and maintaining the rhythm of your swing. You will be surprised how a well-struck hit will produce more distance even at the slower swing.
After you have maintained the proper consistency and accuracy, you can slowly increase your swing until you can finally find your own signature rhythm. Also, remember to always keep eye contact on the ball at all times, and maintain your concentration.
Have you enjoyed the list? I hope it gave you insights on how to improve your game and avoid some common mistakes a lot of newer golfers make.
Found any mistake that you often make? Hey, there’s nothing to be ashamed about, after all, as I’ve said above, admitting your mistake is the first step towards improvement. In fact, leave the stories about your mistakes in the comment section below, and we can discuss further on how to improve it.
If there’s anything you want to share or discuss, don’t hesitate to also leave a comment, and don’t forget to share this article if you liked it.
After spending more than 20 years helping golfers from around the world, Jordan Fuller set out on a mission to spread his golf knowledge to as many golfers as possible. After seeing many of his students make the same mistakes over again and again he decided to create Golf Influence, his own website dedicated to making you a better golfer.