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Novice Questions

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

How should a beginning player set realistic goals in golf? Also, how do you help beginning players enjoy the game when they lack the skill to, for lack of any better way of putting it, "play with intent"?

post #2 of 11

I would interpret "playing with intent" and "course management" as two separate things, with "intent" more along the lines of having good control over exactly where the ball ends up and how it gets there (low/high, floating/piercing, fade/draw, hard and spinning or soft and running, etc), which lets you strategize at least on holes that fit your eye towards getting birdies, instead of exclusively strategizing to minimize lost strokes.  IMO, that level of intent is really only available to VERY good amateurs, like low to maybe mid single digit handicappers and better.  I've been playing well recently and have had a few rounds in the 70s over the past months, and even on my best days I'm still just trying to keep it in rhythm and consistent and find the fairway and the green some way.

 

For mental approach, I'd say think about a round as a long string of individual shots, not 18 holes with a score.  Enjoy the good shots, think of the bad ones only as giving you the chance to make a good recovery shot.  If you slice a tee shot into the trees and have a good opening to pitch it out to 100 yards, take that shot as it's own challenge, see how close you can put it to exactly 100 yards out in the middle of the fairway.  If you hit a nice tee shot but then missed the green badly, green side shots are fun!  Choose a smart shot -- a smart shot may just be getting on the green, not to gimme range, depending on your leave -- and try to execute it.  It's incredibly satisfying to hit little pitches or chips within a few feet of where you wanted.  Don't get angry and be in a mind set where you expect to hit par every hole even with your beginner skills and convince yourself you need to try miracle recovery shots or that perfectly placed lob from a tight lie to have a gimme up and down or whatever.  

 

This kind of mental approach is an excellent habit to form even for when you get better.  You're always going to hit bad shots even when you're much better.  The mental ability to think of each shot as its own fun challenge and not worrying about what shots got you there is a key golf skill at all skill levels.

 

As far as goals, obviously overall score goals are fine and something we all have, but keep it realistic.  If your better (but not career) rounds are ~105 and you've never broken 100, just aim to play in the 90s.  If a big weakness is short game and that's what you've been practicing a lot, aim to get up and down twice in a round, or have no more than one three putt (or two or five or wherever you are skill wise).  If you really struggle off the tee and have been practicing those a lot, aim to hit 2 more fairways than you normally do.  You get the idea.  Small, realistic goals within overall realistic score goals are good.

 

A personal example, for the longest time I've struggled getting the face closed on long clubs, pushing them out to the right, and we know it's hard to score well when you can't hit it well off the tee even with a wood or hybrid or long iron.  I've been working a ton on that, and really not emphasizing the wedges and 8i-9i.  I recently had a round where my long club work really came together and I felt really in control off the tee with my driver through 3i, hitting tons of fairways with good distance.  The swing changes and lack of focus on shorter clubs really bit me score wise and I didn't score well at all, but I felt great going home that day cause I'd managed to execute really well on the course in the part of the game I've been working on a lot recently.  

post #3 of 11

It really depends on how much you want to immerse yourself in the game (welcome to TST BTW). I spent the first 10 yrs or so just playing casual beer golf, although I was mystfied by how hard it was. Then I started taking it more seriously, reading about technique, buying good equipment, and going through several epiphonies and finally improving a lot.

 

If you want to play at least semi-seriously, I would recommend Hogan's 'Five Lessons', limiting play to easy short courses, lots of time on the driving range, taking a couple lessons, and staying tuned in to TST. In other words, become a student of the game. Golf is an activity of such immense depth, the things you can learn about it are infinite. I can't understand the people I know that complain or are frustrated about how they play, but they never put in any time to find out stuff about the golf swing and the game in general.

post #4 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by jetblack76 View Post

How should a beginning player set realistic goals in golf? Also, how do you help beginning players enjoy the game when they lack the skill to, for lack of any better way of putting it, "play with intent"?

 

In my opinion, the most important thing is for that beginner to ask themselves and identify what it is that they want to get out of the game?  Only once that question is answered can the beginner then take steps towards getting what they want.

 

I just started golf in June of 2012 and have a thread that I started which outlined my first few months in the game.  For me, I wanted/want to be the best golfer I can possibly be.  It's a numbers game so I want to shoot as low as possible.  Because that is what I wanted, I took a different approach of practice, learning, playing, and trying to improve as much as possible as quick as possible.

 

Most people probably want to have fun and play well so I would think that their path and goals would be different (playing with friends, enjoying the outdoors, etc.).  If that is the case then maybe it would be good to sign  up for one of those package of 5 lessons from PGA professional for like a $100.  This will give the beginner some basics and they can also see what their natural skill set is.  After that data is obtained, then goals can be set based on what the beginner wants out of the game. 

post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 

BJ - Where can I find the thread that you started last June? That could be helpful.

Thanks,

JB

post #6 of 11

I picked up this game only a few months ago, so hopefully I can give some decent insight here.

First off, I suggest finding the easiest par 3 course you can find to start.  They are cheap, and still fun.  In fact, I played a round with a friend of mine who is significantly better than me, and scored similarly to him on the easy course.  (Of course, he demolishes me on a full course)   You'll also find that easy courses are generally played by beginner players...let's just say it's a relief when 80% of the other players are topping shots all day.

Second, don't be afraid to play alone.  Initially you may think it's awkward, but you'll find out that it is not awkward, and in fact it is quite common.  Often, you play better solo as there is usually pressure to play well in the company of others.

As you get better with the longer clubs, slowly transition to longer courses.  You can search the internet for a ratio of course length to driver distance for this.  Don't be embarrassed to use the shorter tees.

Third, remember that everybody lies in golf.  When I told a coworker I just picked up the game, he told me his story where he scored a 110 (on 18) without ever swinging a club before.  Casual weekend players almost all fix their lies, shave strokes, and do anything else possible to improve their score.  Just play within yourself and don't worry about what they do or say their score is.

Personally, my goal is to be able to consistently hit it high and straight with all my clubs so that I don't look like an idiot when playing with colleagues.  One day I hope to be a bogey golfer...maybe.  However, since I don't ever plan on playing competitive (tournament) golf, it doesn't really matter what I score, as long as my shots look good. That being said, I have totally caught "the bug" and practice over an hour every day trying to improve.  After 6 months of intense practice, I'd say I am confident within 160 yards, but still am pretty terrible with long irons, and haven't even bought any woods yet.

post #7 of 11

I started playing "with intent" a little over 2 years ago.  My advice would be to seek out a golf instructor that comes recommended from someone that's a good golfer and you trust.  I wasted the first 1.5 years and some substantial cash with instructors that were either not good instructors overall or not good instructors for me.  As a result, I engrained a number of bad swing habits that I spent most of 2012 undoing. 

 

I'd suggest you space out your lessons so you have sufficient time to practice, either on the range or in a mirror.  I've found a lesson every 2 - 3 weeks is ideal for me, but you should determine that yourself. 

 

Practice often but practice perfect.  Focus on making the right movements and not on how the ball looks coming off the club. 

 

Be patient with yourself, it's not an easy game unless you're naturally gifted.  Don't rush to get on a course but don't be intimidated by it either. 

post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 

     The challenges I have lie in a few different areas. I have an inside-out swing, so I hit a lot of hosel shots and break clubs. I broke about 6 clubs in the first 8-10 weeks. I'm a hitter, not a swinger. I took lessons at a local range consistently from March of last year through about July or August. Through the first half of the season I saw good progess improving my swing and learning in general. When I wasn't doing a lesson I would try to get to the range to hit balls on my own at least one time in a 7 day period.

     Come around June, I felt I was ready to take the next step. I went out and played a round in a work golf league. It was brutal, I played horridly and felt totally uncomfortable on the course. I was a big hold up even in just playing 9 holes. It really messed me up mentally and when I went back to lessons, I had regressed. I kept at it though and I made some progress again, though from that point in my progress wasn't and smooth and consistent as it had been before. 

     As the 2012 season wound down, I was struggling. I was really working on the basics of the swing again and making grip adjustments, which I had moved passed earlier. As my frustration and disappointment with full swing stuff grew I turned my attention to the short game. Problem there was I again had consistent mechanical errors, if you make the same mistake enough times, it's not a mistake anymore it's permanent. When trying to play the chip and run, I would give up on the swing because I didn't want to skull the ball across the green. If you hit that shot properly and let your wedge do it's job, you can't really do that. It's a mental issue. 

     In the early fall I lost my job and couldn't continue with my golf endeavors as I had to save as much money as I possibly could. It was a mixed bag of a year. It was however, the most dedicated I've been to learning the game and improving. I stuck with it for about 4-5 months and that's FAR more than I ever had before. I did learn a lot, but being on the course is still very stressful and frustrating. That's why I asked, what are more realistic, attainable goals? How do you play on a course and have fun, when all you're going to do is struggle. Making double par, isn't fun. Not to me. At the same time, I don't want to give up. I don't want to give in, but I have to overcome these things to enjoy the game. Or, I just whack balls on the range and leave it at that, but that's lame.

post #9 of 11

When I started playing golf I did this:

- bought real cheapo golfballs

- hit the ball somewhere difficult to find, no search

- give yourself a couple of Mulligans

- after a good shot feel really good about it

- par3: 4 shots not on the green, pick up and drop on the green

- par4: 5 shots not on the green ...

- par5 6 shots not on the green ....

- swing 80% only

- no tourneys what so ever

- play alone

- play with good friends who play better

 

When I played a round counting honestly I scored something between 130-140, so the first goal was braking 130.

post #10 of 11
Thread Starter 

     Now, as the 2013 season is looming. I have a lot of questions to ask myself. How do I want to proceed, if at all. What do I want out of this? What are my goals? How do I make this less trying? It’s supposed to be fun, at the range, sometimes it is, on the course it’s not. I don’t understand the enjoyment I’m supposed to be getting out of struggling to hit the ball shot after shot after shot. Apparently, experienced players had just as much fun shooting 125 and they did shooting 90. I don’t get that, but that’s what I get told.

      I guess I’m left to continually ask, what I am doing wrong? What do players that progress and play over the long term know that I don’t? What are they doing that I’m not? What are they not doing that I am? Why is this not as fun as it is supposed to be? Is this just not a fit and should I just move on? Why do my hobby pursuits just result in frustration and disappointment?

post #11 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by jetblack76 View Post

     Now, as the 2013 season is looming. I have a lot of questions to ask myself. How do I want to proceed, if at all. What do I want out of this? What are my goals? How do I make this less trying? It’s supposed to be fun, at the range, sometimes it is, on the course it’s not. I don’t understand the enjoyment I’m supposed to be getting out of struggling to hit the ball shot after shot after shot. Apparently, experienced players had just as much fun shooting 125 and they did shooting 90. I don’t get that, but that’s what I get told.

      I guess I’m left to continually ask, what I am doing wrong? What do players that progress and play over the long term know that I don’t? What are they doing that I’m not? What are they not doing that I am? Why is this not as fun as it is supposed to be? Is this just not a fit and should I just move on? Why do my hobby pursuits just result in frustration and disappointment?

Without getting too deep here :) ... I played golf for about a year when I was about 26 and gave it up out of frustration. Now I'm 37, have been playing for two years, and am an absolute addict and it's completely satisfying to me. I read golf books, look at online videos, play alone whenever I can;t get a lazy bones to go with me, go to TST :) all the time... But the frustration still looms and I've always been a natural athlete. I could hit 300 foot home runs in live games at age 12. In high school, it was 450 foot home runs. I was all-conference at DE in football. Golf was never for me until much later, and it's THE MOST FRUSTRATING sport in existence! My advice - you must be patient. As a beginner, one day you'll be at the range and feel like every flag is yours, then a week later it may be back to shanksville. You'll be mystified. What the heck happened? After two years of hard work, though, I'm realizing that my misses are getting better. It doesn;t seem like it at the time, but it's true. If you work hard and smart, over time you'll progress. I think people who enjoy golf as a hobby AND play it well are patient, intelligent, and dedicated. I could never play golf like some people drinking a six pack per round and whacking at the ball randomly.That's what poker and bowling are for to me. I think if you are patient and just enjoy the process of improvement and hard work over the years, you will come to enjoy golf like "those people" do. Rember to enjoy it most of all. To quote Crash Davis from Bull Durham- "This game's fun, dammit!"

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