Golf is a difficult enough game without making easily avoidable mistakes with your equipment. Though we may be amateur golfers, we can avoid making amateurish decisions regarding the gear we use during our rounds.
To help you think like a pro, we've listed some common pitfalls you can encounter to help you make the right choices for your game.
Mistake #1 Constantly changing golf balls
We know they aren't cheap, but each golf ball model has unique characteristics. Speak to any decent club fitter. They will tell you that the biggest immediate difference you can make is changing your golf ball, especially when it comes to spin.
If you stick to one type of golf ball, you'll better understand how it reacts. If you can afford to go premium, they will perform better around the greens. A ready supply of new balls will ensure you get the best possible ball flight and consistency.
If you generally play with lake balls or budget balls, while your wallet will thank you, your shots will be shorter and chipping results will be worse.
Mistake #2 Too many long irons
Long irons can be a nightmare to hit consistently. If you've been struggling to hit the lower lofted clubs for as long as you can remember, why are you still using them? Hybrids and high-lofted fairway woods offer far more forgiveness, added distance and a higher ball flight than their long iron equivalents.
Don't let your ego hold you back. If long irons are causing you golfing heartache, it's time to make the switch. If it's good enough for DJ (he's put a 9-wood in the bag in recent months), then it's good enough for us mere mortals.
Mistake #3 Driver too unforgiving
OK, so in the ideal world, we would all be able to hit it 300 with no spin, but fairways are a lot more important to the average amateur. Hitting your driver off the planet right rarely works out, whereas hitting it slightly shorter and keeping it in play will go a long way to breaking 90 (and potentially 80).
Golf manufacturers have put a lot of time, effort and money into developing highly forgiving driver options in recent years. If your big stick regularly lands you in position Z, consider investing in a new one or switch to a shorter, more reliable club off the tee.
Mistake #4 Never changing grips
Grips are your only point of contact on the golf club. If they're worn or become slippery, your grip will tighten up. You'll lose all the freedom and fluidity in your golf swing leading to poor strikes and a loss of power.
If you think your grips are starting to feel a little worse for wear, try to give them a good clean. Grips will last longer with general maintenance. Give them a scrub with a soft scrub brush using soap and water, and that could be enough to restore their tackiness. If not, new grips are in order.
Much like the golf ball issue, what feels like a luxury expense (a new set of grips will typically run in excess of $150/£130) can be a huge difference-maker.
Getting grips that suit you (in size) and work as intended can significantly increase your confidence over the ball. Again, it's the only part of the club you'll actually touch, so don't overlook it.
Mistake #5 Not getting fit
We don't want to sound like your dad, but it's time to bang the custom-fitting drum again.
While the temptation might be to buy clubs online, if you're shelling out upwards of £400/$450 on a new generation driver - and much more on a new set of irons - it seems madness not to go for a custom-fitting.
Making sure you have the right clubs, the ideal shaft length, the best shaft flex, and the perfect grip size for your swing can help slash your scores and save you money in the long run.
Mistake #6 Using the wrong putter
If the saying is true that we drive for show and putt for dough, it makes it all the more important to have the perfect putter for your game. Buying a new putter is one of golf's great impulse buys. It's easy to get starry-eyed over the latest release and make an off-the-cuff investment.
You should try to match your putter style to your stroke. Your putting stroke will determine whether you should use a toe-hanging putter or one that's face balanced.
The toe hang putter will better suit golfers who tend to rotate the face open and shut throughout the stroke, while a face-balanced putter will work better in the hands of those with a straight-back-and-through motion.
The takeaway: if you’re having a difficult time on the greens, it could be because the putter you’ve chosen doesn’t match your putting stroke.
Mistake #7 Buying clubs that aren't forgiving enough
After going all out and splurging on your newest set of irons, you will want them to look the business in your golf bag. While it may be tempting to opt for a set you can't take your eyes off, don't fall into the trap of placing shelf appeal above forgiveness.
A high percentage of golfers will be looking for as much help as possible on off-centre strikes after a ropey golf swing. Almost irrespective of their appearance, you'll fall head over heels for any set of sticks that helps you get that handicap moving south.
If any of these mistakes apply to you, we hope you can take the steps to get them fixed! For more from our series on how to improve your golf, read about how to make the driving range your own personal sanctuary, here.