Mistakes to Avoid that Are Hurting Your Golf Score

This is an important guide to read where I’ll share several mistakes that I see my students making on the golf course that I’ve learned from and try to help them avoid making again. I’m sure you’ll relate to many of these mistakes that are hurting your golf score.

A huge part of golf is making good decisions and course strategy. You can have a great golf swing and be solid overall with your short game skills, but the decision-making component of golf is what leads to good vs bad scores.

How well can you manage strategy on a golf course and avoid trouble that will blow up your golf score?

#1: Hitting Driver on Every Hole

The first mistake most golfers make is thinking they have to hit driver on every hole. In reality, golf course designer’s setup holes certain ways to make them more challenging and bring trouble into play.

Sometimes it’s smarter to play a different club than your driver to avoid trouble.

For example, if bunkers or water features are placed in the fairway about the distance that you hit driver, then you’ll want to lay up short of the trouble by hitting 3 wood, hybrid, or an iron off the tee instead.

Some golf holes are designed to be really short in length as well, which means you don’t need driver for the distance. You can still reach the green in 2 shots even if you don’t hit driver on the tee. You might be able to hit an iron to the fairway from the tee box and then still have a 9 iron or wedge to the green.

Take the easier club to hit, like an iron or hybrid, and get yourself onto the fairway, especially if you struggle with accuracy with your driver.

Resource: How to Score in the 70’s Golf Training Plan

#2: Not Using Enough Loft Hitting from Thick Rough

I see many golfers get into thicker rough (taller grass) on a golf course and still attempt to use a low lofted club like a 4 iron to hit out of the rough.

The result? The rough grabs the club, slowing it down, causing the ball to feel chunked and it only flies 20 yards ahead, instead of flying 150-200 yards to the green like it was supposed to.

Take a higher lofted club like an 8 iron or 7 iron to get the ball to pop up out of the rough better when it’s tall and thick. This will hit the ball further consistently than screwing up a 4 iron that only flies 20 yards.

#3: Looking Up Too Early on Putts

Another mistake golfers make is looking up too early on their putts, hoping to see the ball roll into the cup. They get so focused on the result of the putt and seeing what happened, instead of finishing the stroke properly.

This leads to more frequently missed putts on short distance putts like 3 footers, for example, and coming up short on long distance putts.

Keep your eyes and head down a little longer on your putting stroke and finish the follow through. Don’t look up early causing it to affect the stroke.

If the ball goes in the cup, you’ll hear it. Use your ears, not your eyes for checking the result.

Apply this on your golf swing and chip shots as well. Don’t get so eager to look up and see the result. Finish through the shot fully first before looking.

Resource: Check out our putting videos and practices we created

#4: Playing Too Quick

I’m guilty of this golf mistake sometimes. I like to play fast, and sometimes I play too fast where I don’t take my time analyzing the golf course. I make decisions too quickly and hit my golf shots too fast, leading to poor results.

I also see this with my students as well and so we work on slowing down, taking in more information, and making smarter decisions.

For example, many golfers get to the green and don’t take much time walking around the green, reading the putt from different angles. They might not even read the green at all. They walk up to their ball on the green and hit the putt without taking in much information about the slope, break, and speed.

It’s important to slow down and take your time to think each golf shot through.

Use the time you have, while you wait on your fellow players to take their turn and analyze the shot choices you have so you can make sure you’re playing the right tee shot to the fairway approach shot to the green.

Factor in trouble like bunkers and water and take it out of play by choosing a safer golf shot to play.

#5: Trying to Fix the Golf Swing During a Round

Each day you show up to the golf course to play 9 or 18 holes, you never know what golf swing is going to be present with you. Some days it’s really good and some days it’s not.

But a mistake many golfers make is trying to fix the swing during the golf round. They try to make too many changes and adjustments to force the swing to go straighter and it rarely works out.

Instead, learn to play the swing you have that day. If the driver is hitting shots with fade (left to right curve) then play that swing by aiming more left to adjust for it curving right in the air.

If you try to start making grip changes or close the face or make other adjustments, it might lead to poorly struck golf shots that end up 30 yards from the tee box.

#6: Trying to Hit a Golf Club You’re Not Confident With

If a golf club isn’t playing well for you, stop using it for today and try other clubs in your bag that you’re better with.

Why try to hit a 4 iron if the result is going to be a 40 yard chunk? Instead, swing a 6 iron and hit it 170 yards if it means getting better contact and more distance to move the ball closer to the green.

If a driver is hitting golf shots so far right or left that you risk going out of bounds, then put it away. Try hitting your woods, hybrids, or irons for tee shots so you can increase accuracy and give yourself a better chance at making the green in 2 shots (on par 4) or 3 shots (par 5).

Sacrifice a little distance but increase accuracy.

And if you’re not confident over a putt on the green, back off it and restart your routine. Read the break again. Make a practice stroke again. Take your time and don’t feel rushed to hit a bad putt if you lack confidence over it. Reset yourself then hit a confident putt.

#7: Not Using a Pre-Shot Routine

A pre-shot routine in golf is like a checklist. It gives you structure so you can go through a proper setup and make good decisions on a golf course before hitting your shot.

Using a pre-shot routine will also help your mental game of golf as it helps you focus, in times where you’re rattled or stressed after making a bad shot or score on a hole.

It can help you avoid compounding mistakes where you do something dumb out of anger and emotion.

Pre-shot routines don’t have to be long. You can create two of them, a shorter version and longer version so you can decide in each scenario which is appropriate to use.

Example Pre-Shot Routine:

  • Analyze the lie of the golf ball (how it’s sitting)
  • Analyze trouble around you that affects the shot
  • Analyze the weather (wind direction)
  • Find the distance of the golf shot
  • Visualize the golf shot you want to hit in your mind
  • Pick your club choice
  • Make a practice swing
  • Setup your golf stance and align yourself to the target
  • Make the swing and hit a great shot

Overall, these are common golf mistakes I see golfers making that are hurting their scores. You might find yourself agreeing with some of these mistakes as you have made them before too.

Work on the mental side of golf by learning course strategy and how to plan golf shots to achieve higher probability of success. What’s the higher percentage play? What’s the risk? What’s the reward?

Golf Practice Plans to Follow

Thanks for reading today’s article!

Nick Foy – Golf Instructor

nick foy golf academy
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