8 Stupid Mistakes Every Golfer Makes
How many avoidable mistakes would you say the average golfer makes in a single round? It isn't a low number, that's for sure. Even after a solid 18, you may walk off the final green telling anyone who'll listen how close you came to shooting the lights out.
Golf is not a game of perfect, but if you can learn to stop getting in your own way, it will become a much more enjoyable four hours away from the stresses and strains of everyday life.
While golfers can make a whole ream of mistakes throughout a round, here are some of the biggest offenders. (Those who have seen my golf game will understand this is far from an exhaustive list).
Missing a tap in
Even the thought makes us wince - but we've all done it. If your putt stops just shy of the hole, don't just try to casually tap it in. It might be an action laced with a degree of frustration, but it's nothing compared to how you'll feel if the ball stays above ground.
It's one of the moments on the golf course where you'd be happy if the ground swallowed you up - to save you from the embarrassment if nothing else. And we all already know how to avoid them. Let's give every putt the respect it deserves.
Playing the hero escape
We're often told to ignore our inner critical voice on the course. Let's take that a step further: ignore the inner voice urging you to thread one through the trees when you haven't hit a straight ball all day.
When you're out of position, the absolute worst thing you can do - and we can't stress this enough - is take on a shot where the percentage chance of failure far outweighs any likelihood of success. And where the penalty for failure is severe.
OK, so the hero shot is fun. The punch shot back into the fairway is boring. We get it. Regardless, if you can salvage something from the hole by playing it safe, it's the obvious play. It doesn't matter how you scramble a bogey. As cliche as it sounds, there are no pictures on your scorecard.
Getting the wrong yardage
There's usually some fairway marker to give you the yardage to the green - the trouble is, is that to the front of the green or the middle? It can vary depending on the course you're playing, so having some way to get accurate numbers is essential.
As you already know, your Hole19 app gives you GPS yardages to the front, middle and back of every green.
Not taking enough club
Golf pros will tell you most amateur golfers overestimate how far they hit each club. Most mid-high handicappers are susceptible to leaving the ball short, and we would rarely go long (apart from the times we blade one off the back).
OK, so you smashed your pitching wedge 155 yards one sunny Thursday last. Nice one. But that doesn't mean you can expect to hit the same shot today in the depths of winter.
Only if you collect average carry and total distance data for each club - and then amend for weather and course conditions - can you ever expect to know how far you hit each club.
If you're not a data-driven golfer and are stuck deciding between two clubs on approach, grab the longest one. Making your target the back 1/3 of the green tends to lead to more greens in regulation.
Forgetting to take account of elevation
After leaving a perfect yardage in the green light zone, you strike the ball beautifully, only to see it come up short. You forgot to take a little off into that elevated green again, didn't you!
It's an easy mistake to make, but it's particularly maddening when you stripe the ball exactly as you planned.
Maintain your concentration over the full 18 holes, stay fuelled and try to forget about previous shots (both good and bad). Keeping your head in the game will help you allow for elevation in each of your pre-shot club choices.
Hitting the lip in fairway bunkers
Finding the sand from the tee is far from ideal, but don't go compounding the error by getting too greedy. Picking the golf ball clean out of the bunker is tricky enough, but when you hit it flush, you want to ensure enough loft to get back in play.
Lay up to your favourite yardage. It's always preferable to another wasted shot in the sand.
Failing to read the putt
A lot of putts are missed because golfers tend to focus on the break of a putt without actually reading it. It's important to know whether the ball will move left to right or right to left, but how much will it actually move?
Try to stand to the side of every putt to help you decide whether it's uphill or downhill, as this needs to be factored in when choosing your starting line and pace. Uphill putts will generally break less than downhill putts.
Dwelling on bad shots
We've all been there. You've just made a three-putt and lost all focus as you step up to your next tee shot. There's a little pent-up anger and not a hint of a pre-shot routine as you proceed to smash your tee shot into the woods or straight OB.
After a bad shot or a bad break, remember that how you react will determine how the rest of your round pans out. Some of the world's best golfers have a form of 'short-term memory loss' - essentially the ability to stand on the next tee with a clear mind.
If you can learn to put the 3-putt, the chunked chip shot, the plugged lie, or the unlucky bounce out of your mind, you'll relieve yourself of the negative emotions that make it harder to play good golf.