I'm in my second year of playing the game now, and am looking for some insight from anyone who has played the game longer than me, no matter at what level.
I seem to have experienced some fairly dramatic changes in my ability in a very short period of time. Most recently, I went out on an executive par 62 course, and shot roughly in the high 80's, which would be probably my best round of golf so far. Consistently solid contact in the middle of my club, no OB shots, a lot in the fairway. Most of my holes were bogeys, and even a couple pars.
However, a few days later I'm out at the driving range, when all of the sudden I'm shanking and topping balls. This was not unusual for me when I first started playing, but it hadn't happened in a while for me.
My instructor had told me that this is fairly common, and the best way to fix this is to take a few minutes break, and then come back with quarter length swings just to get good contact, which is what it did. However, it took three driving range sessions until I was able to get consistently solid contact (over an hour of consistently shanked/topped shots). This period was quite demoralizing, and made me question why I spend so much time, effort, and money on the sport.
I know there will be ups and downs in the game, but I didn't expect my game to get that down, after I've practiced so much. I spend a lot of time at the range and I had thought I had progressed past this point; in fact my last 4-5 times at the range were excellent.
(In case it's helpful, I had a lesson with my teacher and he said that my horrible mis-hits were caused by a very big inside-to-out [swooping] swing, coupled with overactive wrists, which projected the ball to the right and with a hard slice)
My general question is, is this common, and how do you resolve this issue? If it's not common, do you have any idea what I could be doing that causes this?