Golf can be frustrating. You know it, I know it. It’s why I preach “how to make golf easier“, not “how to make golf easy“.
Playing golf shouldn’t be so frustrating that you want to quit in the middle of a round. Don’t worry if you do, though, because even pros get that feeling. The key on how to make golf easier is powering through that feeling.
There are things you can do to help yourself alleviate that frustration while on the course.
Just remember that you’re not alone in that feeling.
Start by asking yourself: are you playing for a million dollars? A trophy? Most likely, no… nothing more than personal pride. So ask yourself: how is quitting on yourself good for your pride?
Do you have friends that are like that? Are YOU like that? I have a few friends that are. I sympathize, I really do, but I also don’t let them wallow in misery.
Maybe it’s because I played football for so long, and my coach never let his players do that. I don’t really know, but I do know that quitting has never been an option for me. It shouldn’t be for you, either!
Remember, it’s just golf. There are millions of things worse that could be happening to you.
I have one friend that gets that way, sometimes kinda bad. We were out recently and he was getting into that funk. “I’m just gonna quit today” and “I don’t have it, I’m going to pack it in” were things I heard before the 11th hole.
I was driving, so I chose to ignore him. One hole later, he hits this beautiful shot from a tough situation. Lands it on the green. Another hole later and he says “I’m glad you convinced me to stay”! He’s a good friend, so I was glad he did, too… but I didn’t convince him of anything. He was the one that dug deep and kept trying.
Golf’s a constant work in progress; sometimes it works well, sometimes it doesn’t work so well. There will be situations beyond your control; when you do as my friend did, you take another step towards learning how to make golf easier.
Bad things are going to happen, just like they did to Billy Horschel at the ’16 Masters. From the previously-linked article:
Billy Horschel got the unluckiest break.
Horschel, even par for the day at the time, hit his second shot onto the par-5 15th green. As he was walking up to mark his ball, the wind blew it off the green, down the slope and into Rae’s Creek.
Because Horschel never marked his ball, his second shot — under the rules of the game — was deemed to have gone in the water. So, rather than have an eagle putt or settle for an easy two-putt birdie, he had to take a penalty stroke and finished with a bogey.
It sucks, it’s frustrating, but that’s what happens when you play an outdoor sport. It’s not just golf, though. Power hitters in baseball can be held in check by a strong wind that blows in from the outfield.
Sometimes Mother Nature’s your friend, giving you 10 or more yards off each shot with a tailwind. Sometimes she’s a royal b-word, subtracting 10 or more yards with a headwind. Or, in Herschel’s case, blowing your ball off the green!
Golf isn’t exactly easy, because of situations like that. We can make golf easier by learning to deal with frustration, but the very nature of the game can sometimes leave you with a “well, that wasn’t what I was hoping for” feeling. As the old cliche goes: you just gotta roll with the punches.
Another quote, from Bryson DeChambeau:
“I misclubbed all day,’’ he said. “That’s ultimately why I didn’t execute.
Knowing what club to use in certain situations is key to performing in the elements.
When DeChambeau talks about “misclubbing”, he’s talking about using the wrong club. If you’re in a headwind, you want to use more club; in a tailwind, you want to use less club.
Using more club
If you find you’re always coming up short when going for a green, you need to stop forcing the issue. Just because you like the PW in that situation doesn’t mean it’s the right play. You should seriously consider using the 9 iron, maybe even an eight, to actually give yourself a chance.
I have a general rule of thumb: club up one club for every 10 mph of headwind. If I’m looking at a 7 iron to reach the green, in a 10 mph headwind I’ll use the 6 iron instead.
Using less club
When you hear “using less club”, it’s the exact opposite of using more club. The same rule of thumb applies: for every 10 mph of tailwind, use one less club than normal.
For the example, if I’m faced with a 7 iron and I have a 10 mph tailwind, I’ll instead use the 8 iron.
The trick for both shots is to not try to muscle it.
In a headwind, when you really try to hammer it, you’ll add more backspin. That’s going to create a ballooning shot, where the ball goes up, and up, and up… but comes straight down.
When you use more club, it’s obviously going to have a lower loft than the club you’d normally use. That will automatically create a lower launch angle and less backspin while using the same swing. That allows the ball to have a more penetrating ball flight, which means the air blowing at you will have a harder time catching it.
When you club down in a tailwind, you don’t want to put so much muscle into it that overshoots the green. That, and (in what I’d consider worse) is that errors get amplified.
What that means is, if you miss-hit it, even a little, the fade/slice or hook/draw gets magnified. Swing smoothly, make sure you square the clubface, and let the club do its job.
“Swing easy when it’s breezy”, as the old saying goes.
Yes, golf is both fun and frustrating.
It’s going to piss you off some days. But please, don’t ever quit on yourself. Dial back your expectations, choose your clubs accordingly and just enjoy yourself and whatever company you might have. Practice whenever you get the chance.
Trust me, you’ll have a better time that way.