How to Get Better at Golf

December 13, 2021

by Nick Bockenfeld, PGA

The game of golf is one of the most difficult sports in the world. So if golf is such a hard game, how do we get better at it?

The game of golf is one of the most difficult sports in the world. Almost every golfer on the planet has heard the Robin Williams skit when he talks about how difficult golf is, from teeing off and passing all the obstacles and the hole is 100s of yards away. Then someone asks if you do that once, and he screams, "NO! YOU DO IT 18 ****** TIMES!" We all laugh about that skit because we know how true it is. 

 

So if golf is such a hard game, how do we get better at it?

 

Par on most courses is around 72 strokes for 18 holes as we all know, so why does the average male according to golfbible.com shoot 96 while the average female shoots around 108. There are a lot of things that go into a bad round of golf. But with only 2% of all golfers breaking 80 and getting anywhere near par, it's obvious that people just don't know how to get better for the most part. How many of us have sat at the range banging balls and wonder why we can't break through. Part of that is not having the right tools. After playing a good round, how do you cement that swing so you can use it again tomorrow? I use the CTRL Swing Master to help me save that swing as a baseline so I can continue to take that swing every time you go out. If you want to know about the other tools I use, check out my other post about the best training aids in 2022!

 

Know your stats!

 

The next important thing is to know what you need to work on. You have to keep your stats. You have to know how many putts you have per round. You have to know how many fairways you hit, how many greens did you hit? How many times did you get up and down for par? How many sand saves did you have? How many penalty strokes did you take? All of this information is gold when you are trying to get better. There is no better way to know where to spend your time practicing than by keeping your stats. If you're like me and can recount every shot you hit after the round in the car ride home, you can keep your stats after the round. If not, I recommend using a scorecard to track each stat category. I recommend you compare to PGA tour averages and then you know what needs the most work. Keep in mind that tour players tend to hit a ton of greens so I wouldn't go off of their putt stats. For putting, I use 30 putts per round as a good litmus test. That is having 1 putt on a green 6 times and 2 putting everything else. If you aren't doing this, your putting could use some work.

 

Keeping stats really is a vital part of getting better and I would 100% recommend it to everyone. I can't tell you how many times I'll have a friend ask why they aren't getting better, and I'll have to ask why they are on the range instead of on the putting green when I watched them 3-putt 4 different times the last time they played. They usually aren't even aware they 3-putted more than once. You are going to have biases about what you need to work on unless you keep your stats.

 

How to practice.

 

Once you start keeping stats, you then have to know how to actually practice the things you need to work on. Never practice without a purpose. If you ever go out to the range just to hit balls, you are actively making yourself stagnate. You will not get better by just hitting golf balls. Have a purpose for your practice! Once I understand what I did wrong the last time I played, I know what to practice and then I get a purpose. If I am working on mid-irons because I didn't hit my mid-irons well, I missed a lot of greens on long par 4s. I know that I need to work on my mid irons. I go to the range and I always start with an alignment aid and my trusty CTRL Swing Master. With the Swing Master I know I can really groove a great iron shot. I have my 8 iron fade model and I work on hitting that. I focus on getting all 5 of my feedback metrics correct and hitting the green. If I get all of my feedback right, I can focus on getting a particular model to a higher consistency percentage. I practice with a purpose. Let's say I wasn't able to hit a fade with my driver, so I missed a lot of fairways left. I can practice with a purpose and create a model of my driver by hitting 10 great fades with the driver. That is how I like to practice, but however you best like to practice, make sure you have some sort of purpose. Whether the purpose is working on your grip, alignment, posture, a swing change, grooving a particular move, sequencing, or transfer practice, it's great as long as you have a purpose!

 

How much should you practice?

 

So you decided to work on a drill. You are now practicing with a purpose! How long should you practice? Should you practice more than once a week? What is the best way to schedule out your practice time? Well, it is entirely up to your schedule. Obviously, the more you can practice, the better! But, there are diminishing returns, the more you practice each day. In an ideal world, if you were to practice for 5 hours you would want to spread it out among 5 days. Unfortunately, we are humans and we all have other obligations, so practice when you can and what works with your schedule. For me I have to keep short practice times. I have horrific ADHD and can't focus on anything for too long. I like to contain myself to one drill or activity for 30 minutes. The first 5 minutes are usually some sort of warmup for that activity, getting into the correct mindset, then the next 25 minutes are hardcore practice. After 30 minutes, I start losing focus and it leads to me messing up, and losing confidence, which means I get worse. Practice is only helpful if you are building confidence while you do it. So whatever your time period of focus is, make sure you don't keep up the same activity for more than that period of time. After that time period is up, move to a different drill.

 

My favorite drills:

 

My favorite drills mostly revolve around the CTRL Swing Master, but I won't go on about those drills. They are great for tempo and consistency.

 

I also love the towel drill. I place a towel under my arms and hit punch shots. I always do 3 with the drill and one without the drill. The towel drill is great for keeping your body together and in sync with all the moving parts of the golf swing. I would highly recommend this drill to anyone.

 

Another great drill is the up and down drill. It's great transfer practice for putting and chipping. You just hit a chip and then go try to make the putt. Keep track of how many times you get up and down and always try to beat that the next time.

 

My favorite putting drill is also the hardest drill to do. I call it 10 under. you can change this drill up however you want to work best for you. I started a lot closer to the hole than I am now. I take 4 tees and place them around the hole. I put one tee above the hole at 4 feet, and one below the hole at 4 feet. These are par putts. I then put a tee to the right of the hole, and to the left of the hole, both 12 feet away from the hole; these are birdie putts. You go around in the circle and hit the putts until you get to 10 under. Keep in mind I always quit after 30 minutes because I lose all focus and start hitting terrible putts. You can do this from a shorter distance to start, like having par putts from 2 feet and birdie putts from 8 feet if you wanted. The point is you get some great transfer practice for scoring well on the golf course.

 

The last drill I like is transfer practice in general. I like to pick a green and try to hit it 70% of the time depending how far away it is. Hit 10 balls and try to have 7 be on the green. Do the same with the driver after picking a fairway for yourself and try to hit the fairway.

 

To Sum it Up...

Getting better at golf will always come down to practicing. You have to find what works best for you, but you always have to practice with a purpose. I remember when I was a junior golfer and practicing every day, I would come home and my dad would ask me what I worked on that day. Hitting range balls was never an acceptable answer. I always had to have some purpose, whether it was upkeep of my fundamentals like grip, posture, alignment, or it was a swing change I was working on. I always had to have a purpose. At the time I thought it was pretty silly, but now I'm happy he did it! I know it helped me get better much faster.