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defaulting to bad habits on the course

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defaulting to bad habits on the course

Hi All,

I have been on the forum a few times and have gained a wealth of knowledge which I am very grateful for.

I have been playing golf for around a year and I am so far pleased with my progress (to give an idea on a good day playing well I can get 103-105 on an 18 hole course, on a bad day this can easily be 120-130).

 

however I have an issue which I am sure many struggle with but I really have no idea how to resolve it. When I practice in doors with a mat/net/real balls or I go to the range I seem to strike the majority of my shots very very well, my swing is correct (feels great), I work on my swing a lot and seem to "crack" it when I am off the course making me have confidence.

 

However when I get on the course I seem to forget almost everything I have learned and especially when I am under pressure on the tee box or people are watching I clam up and default to a horrible swing or trying to get too much power, go over the top, dont follow through correctly (shoulders stay stuck at impact and not rotated through): its everything a swing shouldnt be.

In a way the good thing is because I learn, study and practice so much I can self analyze my mistakes.

I am sure the more I play the more I will be relaxed etc but does anyone have any advise on firstly ingraning a better swing so that under pressure it should still be there and secondly trying to calm myself down when playing.

Much of it is to do with my nature, when it comes to sports and performing I clam up and get nervous. Usually once I am in it and playing i tend to calm down I am fine. Trouble with golf is eac time you start a new hole its like restarting the mental torture again LOL

Edited by xmt

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4 hours ago, xmt said:

defaulting to bad habits on the course

Hi All,

I have been on the forum a few times and have gained a wealth of knowledge which I am very grateful for.

I have been playing golf for around a year and I am so far pleased with my progress (to give an idea on a good day playing well I can get 103-105 on an 18 hole course, on a bad day this can easily be 120-130).

 

however I have an issue which I am sure many struggle with but I really have no idea how to resolve it. When I practice in doors with a mat/net/real balls or I go to the range I seem to strike the majority of my shots very very well, my swing is correct (feels great), I work on my swing a lot and seem to "crack" it when I am off the course making me have confidence.

 

However when I get on the course I seem to forget almost everything I have learned and especially when I am under pressure on the tee box or people are watching I clam up and default to a horrible swing or trying to get too much power, go over the top, dont follow through correctly (shoulders stay stuck at impact and not rotated through): its everything a swing shouldnt be.

In a way the good thing is because I learn, study and practice so much I can self analyze my mistakes.

I am sure the more I play the more I will be relaxed etc but does anyone have any advise on firstly ingraning a better swing so that under pressure it should still be there and secondly trying to calm myself down when playing.

Much of it is to do with my nature, when it comes to sports and performing I clam up and get nervous. Usually once I am in it and playing i tend to calm down I am fine. Trouble with golf is eac time you start a new hole its like restarting the mental torture again LOL

Welcome toThe Sand Trap @xmt. Thanks for joining.

A lot of us have had this issue. You are new to the game and your swing is still evolving.  It will take a bit of time. A couple of tips:

  1. Learn to practice correctly.  Just hitting balls can reinforce bad habits or a fault in your swing. The thread below talks about the best way to learn. 
  2. Film your swing and start a swing thread in the Member Swings section and let us help guide you toward improvement. A lot of us do this. Other forum  members and a couple great instructors on the site will give you advice on what to work on as a priority. Many of us have worked through similar swing issues.
  3. check out the rest of the site and join in discussions. There are a lot of good folks here who love to talk golf.
  4. Have fun! Golf is fun. That is why we play.:-)

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Read up on developing your own preshot routine. This will help with all your shots, especially those 18, first hole jitters you mentioned.

I use to worry about the first hole everytime I went out. Then one day, I just told myself, screw it. Just walk up and hit the ball some where. These days, I want to be the first one hitting. 

Secondly, when out on the courses, always believe that you are not the worst golfer out there, that day. You can just about guarantee yourself, someone is shooting a higher score than yourself. In your own group don't look at yourself as the worst in your group. Look at the rest of your group as just better golfers, who have more expirience. Funny thing is, all those better golfers we run into during our golf journey, were just as bad as we were, when they were just starting out. 

Always play the course. Never try to play to how members of your group are playing. Play your own game, and forget the other players around you. When you think/worry about the other players in your group, you are putting needless, extra pressure on yourself. That extra pressure will cause you to score higher than you normally would. 

I like to play golf one shot at a time, 6 holes at a time.  I am of the belief of something my brother once told me. Your next shot is the toughest shot in golf. Don't let your past shots rule over your future shots. By playing 6 holes, I give myself 3 starting points to help right the ship should I develope a problem during my round.  

I once recommended to a golfing friend, who was a lot like the OP in this thread, to go take a public speaking class. He did, and the personal confidence he gained, spilled over into golf game. Self confidence is a big deal in anything a person does. 

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Hi All,

Thank you very much for the advise and words of confience. I think one thing I will read into is the pre shot routine.

I know myself that franky I dont have one, I get up to the ball and all I worry about is hitting it however when I relax I dont worry about anything and have a thought process of get a nice clean hit and where it will end up.

I guess it comes down to once I have a bad shot it shakes me up and if I get 2 or 3 in a row I might as well go home. lol

I think a good thing I done recently was join my local course which I am very fortunate is rowallan castle golf course. I have been out a few times so far and its a great way to work on the game without worrying about a score and getting used to the mindset of being on a course. The range has its place but being on a course is completely different.

 

Edited by xmt

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2 hours ago, Patch said:

Read up on developing your own preshot routine. This will help with all your shots, especially those 18, first hole jitters you mentioned.

When you're indoors, it's an unreal situation other than developing the mechanics of your swing. Outdoors on a practice range, it's better but not like on-course situations. Some problems with both:

  • Selective memory: We tend to remember the good practice shots and forget the not-so-good shots
  • On-course noise: From the landing zone in the fairway, you face a slightly sidehill lie, grass that's a bit bushy for fairway, and the need to take a shot over the edge of a greenside bunker. That's a lot to process, if you have most of your club swings from a level spot on the practice range. 
  • Noise abatement: The key on course is to eliminate the noise and distractions, and set up to hit a good shot. This is where a well-ingrained pre-shot routine comes in: you do it the same way every time, and don't have to process a lot of info. Focus on proper alignment, make any stance adjustments quickly, and hit the ball.
  • Process during walk-up: Be thinking about your shot as you approach the point where you will hit it. If it's a 140-yard Par 3, that's probably a 7i or 8i. Water to left, line up more to right. 
  • Experience = what not to do. On courses you play regularly, you will develop a no-go list of things not to do. No. 14 at my home course has a well bunkered terraced green. If my tee shot flies into shaggy rough, I now lay up in front of the green. From there, I can chip to one of four nodes on the green and get a bogie or possibly a par. In the past, a 6i out of medium rough almost never ended in a birdie putt - more likely a double bogie.

Also, keep some quality control notes. Did you take 38 putts (more than 2 per hole)? Do half your tee shots miss hard left? Did you have fat/heavy hits on three of your PW chips? These are all patterns. Using basic Pareto Analysis, you identify your worst problem area, remedy the problem; find your second worst, etc...

GameGolf and other software can help you maintain stats. 

Edited by WUTiger

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Range work can be deceptive. There are no consequences following the shot. Very bad shots are obviously very bad but the one you hit towards a target doesn't have a score attached to it. Might hit an identical shot on the course that misses the green or ends up behind a tree or lands just short in a hazard etc. On that range that shot just drops near where you are aiming and you probably hit several with the same club in towards the same target with the benefit of repetition. And even then a bad shot on the range still usually lands on the range, easy to shrug off, not so easy when it leads to a triple on the course.

When I was doing weekly work with a launch monitor my 7i pattern that appeared to mostly land near the target I was aiming at was an ellipse about 45-50 feet at the major axis. Some would be outside of the oval and that was with my instructor guiding me with every shot. On the range I mostly look at shot shape relative to starting lines.

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xmt, I had the very same problem. I hate to say it but before I played my first round of golf, I was a 50%'er on the range. So when I played my first round, which was just a month or so ago, I was nervous and I think it kinda ruined my first round.  Then one day while on the putting green I just stood and watched folks tee off on the first and second hole at my local coourse and I realized that,,,, can't think of a real polite way to say it, most people aren't any better than I. But dang, they were enjoying it. So now, when I go out, I go out to do my best and enjoy it. Bottom line for me, it working and my scores over the last 2 rounds got allot better. 

Just some advice from someone very new and just wants to enjoy the game.  Joe

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On 7/3/2017 at 11:03 AM, xmt said:

I guess it comes down to once I have a bad shot it shakes me up and if I get 2 or 3 in a row I might as well go home. lol

You should definitely have a different mindset than this. I have read numerous round summaries from people on here that get a double or even a triple bogey on a hole and can still shoot in the 30s on that round for 9 holes. Based on your current skill level I assume youre not trying to become a professional golfer soon, so golf is a leisure activity/hobby for you, why would 2 or 3 bad shots in a row make you want to go home? Youre talking only 2-3% of your total shots for that day are enough to make you quit mid round? 

Did you happen to watch Jordan Spieth in the 2016 Masters? Hit multiple bad shots into the water. It happens to everyone. Amateurs and tour pros alike. 

If hitting 2-3 bad shots in a row ruins your mood for the round then maybe you should look for an easier hobby/sport to play. Not trying to be mean, but golf is a hard game, and even harder to execute at a high level on a consistent basis without years of practice

Edited by klineka

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On ‎7‎/‎3‎/‎2017 at 3:21 AM, xmt said:

however I have an issue which I am sure many struggle with but I really have no idea how to resolve it. When I practice in doors with a mat/net/real balls or I go to the range I seem to strike the majority of my shots very very well, my swing is correct (feels great), I work on my swing a lot and seem to "crack" it when I am off the course making me have confidence.

Practicing is good for either working on solid contact, or making changes to the swing. It doesn't really prepare you for the variety of shots you will see on the course. You don't get perfect flat lies. The goals are different as well. The range has different visuals than the course.

On ‎7‎/‎3‎/‎2017 at 3:21 AM, xmt said:

However when I get on the course I seem to forget almost everything I have learned and especially when I am under pressure on the tee box or people are watching I clam up and default to a horrible swing or trying to get too much power, go over the top, dont follow through correctly (shoulders stay stuck at impact and not rotated through): its everything a swing shouldnt be.

I would take a guess and say your swing is more like that on the range as well. The swing does not change much. Take a look at this thread.

Mostly it's a key 5, and the ability to consistently control the low point of the swing. Key 5 being clubface control with the golf swing. A person can get into a groove on the range and start to hit good shot after good shot. On the course you never get that situation.

 

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I look at it like a series of stages your swing has:

  1. Your mental swing- the best you know how to do in your head
  2. Your slow motion mirror swing- not quite as good as above but decent. 
  3. Your range swing- deviating from the two above but if you practice, it will improve to match the above two better 
  4. Your course swing- gotta play more but it should eventually have things there that you are working on above. Takes time though to seep to this level
  5. Tournament golf- something I haven't tried yet. As of now, no thanks as there are enough issues in 1-4.

So I'd say just stick with it  Relax and let things work through the levels. Takes work but if you are practicing smart, it should work.

 

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Welcome to the site @xmt.

The good habits will seep into your on-course swing if you remain diligent with practice. It might take some rounds where you care less about your score and more about whether you're doing the things you know are correct. But eventually, you'll get closer to using the swing you use on the practice range.

What others have said about your good swing and bad swing being the same is true to a point - they often look similar on video. But I've recorded swings while hitting into the net at home, and some from playing on the course and they were very, very different. That said, I can hit some good shots with an ugly swing, and some crappy shots while achieving my priority. So the shot results are not always telling.

It's possible the nervousness or anxiety you're experiencing on the course might be making you rush just enough to throw your timing off. It doesn't take much to turn a decent swing into a crappy one.

Speaking of nervousness, cut yourself some slack. You've only been playing for a year. Try to keep this in mind... very few golfers remember someone else's bad shots.

Good luck.

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9 hours ago, saevel25 said:

I would take a guess and say your swing is more like that on the range as well. The swing does not change much.

Some people have more controlled swings on the range and get a little more long and loose on the course, so I believe it is entirely possible to have a range swing and a course swing.

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It is worth noting that range shots are executed in a stable environment; whereas golf shots are played from an infinite variety of lies.  Each shot at the range, regardless of the club selected, is made from the same spot the last one was made from.  That never happens on a golf course.  The flat mat swing that works a charm on the range is not always effective on an uneven surface.

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Hi Everyone,

Thanks for all the replies. They have helped me think about things a little differently.

I think I should clarify a few points, I completely love the game, the fact that it is so hard is what makes me keep wanting to play and be better. I really enjoy the challange.

 

To give an example of my frustration is that since posting I have been out twice played 18 holes. The first time was last week and it was a really great game, iron shots were on point, crisp, it was just a wonderful evening - it just felt natural and relaxing. For me personally good shots are 140 yards from a 7 iron with a very good line of where I planned to hit it, 110 from 9i, 60-70 from a Lob Wedge. I would say 80% of iron shots were nice, other 10% ok, 10% crap (dont care). Driver shots were pathetic but I dont care too much about that either (for now)

 

I then went out last week and it was shocking. Hardly any clean shots, balls going all over the place, left and right, not a single clean driver shot.

 

I think that is the real struggle I have, is that I can go out one day and play great and go out the following week and be pants lol.

One thing I start to do when I start to play bad is change what I am doing and figure out what I am doing wrong, I start to either rotate more, lift arms more or keep arms closer to my chest. I start to overthink everything trying in the hope to get my "mojo" back when in reality I am probably making things worst.

My instructor used to tell me to trust my swing, I remember telling him I had trust issues LOL.

I certainly am quite hard on myself and this doesn't help the matter.

I am going to put into practice the tips I have been given here. I have booked a block of new lessons to a course local to me. I spoke to the instructor today who I explained the situation to and he mentioned he would take me on a quick 3 holes and see how I play and take it from there.

Edited by xmt

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On 7/3/2017 at 8:03 AM, xmt said:

I think a good thing I done recently was join my local course which I am very fortunate is rowallan castle golf course. I have been out a few times so far and its a great way to work on the game without worrying about a score and getting used to the mindset of being on a course. The range has its place but being on a course is completely different.

That's great. Play a lot, as often as you can. 

FWIW, I also find the range is a poor predictor of performance on the course. How many times during a round do you draw a bad lie? That never happens on the range.  

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