5 Common Mistakes Made on the Golf Course

By Bruce Dowell
April 22, 2015


When most of my students start taking lessons with me, they’re trying to improve on two things: A better, more consistent ball flight, and shooting lower scores.

Most believe that the consistency will lead to lower scores. While consistency will definitely help, it doesn’t always equal the lowest possible scores. Golfers also have to learn to PLAY the game of golf better than they have before. After years of taking students out on the course for playing lessons, the things I see are pretty predictable.

Blow up hole

Here is a list of mistakes that I see on a normal basis when many high handicap amateurs and beginners golf:

Common Mistake #1:

Not having a game plan on each hole.

Most golfers always tee off with a driver on every par 4 and par 5, regardless of the length of the hole. Many times they leave themselves closer to the hole with a short, difficult wedge shot that they’re not prepared for.

Most golfers practice full shots when they go to the driving range more than they do these short wedge shots. If you can hit a 3-wood or hybrid off the tee and leave yourself a more comfortable full pitching wedge or short iron, you’ll be better off.

Common Mistake #2:

Speaking of a 3-wood, use it less in the fairway.

If you take the above advice and use the 3-wood off the tee, that’s great. Otherwise, it’s probably getting you in trouble more often than you realize. Many golfers try to hit a 3-wood harder than any club in their bag.

For instance, a golfer may hit an average 3 wood 215 yards, but try to hit that 1 in 25 shot that goes 245. If they’ve hit a good shot that’s 215 down the middle, they’re still got that awkward 30 yard shot that most golfers don’t practice enough. Instead, hit an easier club, like a 6 or 7 iron, down the fairway, and then a full gap or sand wedge to the green.

Common Mistake #3:

Controlling the golf ball in the wind.

My rule of thumb for playing is “the stronger the wind, the lower the ball flight”. When hitting a golf shot that distance control is important (most approach shots and some tee shots), golfers need to take the wind out of the equation.

The higher the ball flight, the more time the wind can lift the ball up, shortening the shot, or move it sideways. Sometimes when the wind is helping, it can carry a ball too far, or knock it down, shortening the distance again. Learn to take more club and hit the ball with less speed, and it’ll be a lot more predictable.

Common Mistake #4:

Not hitting enough club on approach shots

Many golfers play for the best shot they ever hit, not the average shot. More shots are missed short of the green than long or to the sides. Chart how many times you hit a ball within 5 yards of pin high. It’s a good way to gauge if you’re choosing the right club, playing the wind, and hitting the ball with the right trajectory.

Common Mistake #5:

Getting emotional over a bad shot.

It’s easy to get mad over a bad shot. We’ve all done it. It usually makes things worse. My students have a rule. They can say 3 negative words after a bad shot. That’s it. It can be “Joe, what happened”. It can be “Steve, that’s terrible”. Whatever they want to say, it doesn’t matter. But after that, it’s over with and on to the next shot, with a positive attitude.

Use these tips in your game, and you’ll start to see lower scores. Remember, it’s not only how you hit the ball, but how you play the game.

These are 5 common mistakes made when high handicappers and beginners golf.  Want to know 5 Reasons You Don’t Get Better At Golf?

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