Do You Want to Improve your Golf Game? Put in the Work

Do You Want to Improve your Golf Game? Put in the Work

At the end of each season, it is time to reflect on how you played, what you did well, what you could have done better and what you are willing to work on in your game.

The Wish

The progression of improvement starts with a wish. You might say to yourself, “I wish I could play better.” I wish I could break 100, 90, 80, 70.” “I wish I could putt better, chip better, hit my driver farther, or play smarter golf.

Once you make a wish, the next step is to figure out what you need to do to make your wish come true. You may want to accomplish your goal, but wanting denotes a perpetual state of not getting. You must promote a state of doing.

The Work


Are you committed to doing whatever it takes to reach your goal? The time it will take to reach your goal will change depending on what you are looking for. Let’s say you want to break 90 for 18 holes. The first thing you should do is keep track of your rounds. Write down how many fairways (typically a potential of 14 per 18 holes due to four par 3s), greens in regulation and putts. I would keep track of at least five rounds. You can do this on the bottom part of the scorecard. I do it every round I play.

If you hit it in the fairway, mark an F. If you hit it right or left, put an R or L in the box. You should see some repeatable results. How many fairways do you miss left or right? These results will show you what you need to work on.

Greens in regulation means you are on the green in one on a par 3, two on a par 4, and three on a par 5. If you want to break 90, I would try to hit the green in one over regulation. Be on a par 3 in two, a par 4 in three and a par 5 in four. If you do that and two-putt each hole, you will have shot 90.

Once you see what your tendencies are, it will become clear what you need to work on. You may not hit a lot of greens because every drive is missed left or right. You may also miss greens if you hit every fairway, but cannot reach the green. If that is the case, let go of your ego, and move up a tee box. The game will become more fun.

Keep track of putts the same way. How many three putts per round do you have? Typically, three-putts are caused by poor distance control.

If you miss a ton of short putts, alignment, setup or stroke shape could be an issue.

The Will

Once you know where your weaknesses lie, the question is, are you willing to put in the work? Again, the amount of work will vary depending on the goal and how far you are from achieving it. A few questions I would have for you are:

Is your goal achievable? Let’s say you just started playing and want to break 90. I believe your goal is achievable, but the learning curve will make it take a bit longer for you. Learn to hit the ball cleanly, airborne and straight first, break 100, and then you will have the needed experience to break 90.

Do you have the time to invest? How many times per week do you practice? Allen and I teach a lot of junior golfers. Many of them play hockey, soccer or softball as well. When we ask them how many days per week they play their other sport, the frequent answer is three to four days per week. When I ask them how many days they practice or play golf, they say once per week. Changing your game will take more than once a week practice.
Do you have the necessary resources to accomplish your goal? Ask your professional what they recommend for your ongoing improvement. How much will it cost you?

Bank of Hope
Minjee Lee practices her short game to the 2019 DOW Great Lakes Bay International | Photo: Ben Harpring

The Wait

Anything worth working on takes time. Create a plan with your instructor so you know what the expected timeline is to reap the rewards of your hard work. The game of golf is one that will never be mastered. You can always improve but know that no one has ever mastered it. One of my favorite sayings is, “He and/or she who misses it best without getting ticked off, wins.” Truth.

The Win

Celebrate your accomplishments. Some people tend to be so negative and beat themselves up. This game is difficult. Pat yourself on the back.

I was recently staying in Pinehurst for a tournament. The hotel where I was staying had a feature video on the TV about the history of golf and the Pinehurst Resort. Someone was interviewed and said, “This game isn’t always fair. You get bad lies in golf and in life. The challenge is to create a good outcome from a bad lie.” I agree.


Cindy writes for the Buffalo News.

The cover photo of Moriya Jutanugarn on the practice green at the 2019 Bank of Hope Founders Cup is by Ben Harpring

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