It can take years to become proficient at golf, but if you practice, learn, and have fun, your game will improve rapidly.
“Success in golf depends less on strength of body, more on strength of mind and character.” - Arnold Palmer
Golf, like almost all other sports and pastimes, requires time to become proficient. Creating muscle memory, learning how to correct faults, learning new styles of play and the lay of the land on each course, are all aspects of golf that need to be acquired over time.
So just how long does it take to become good at golf? Well, depending on your attitude to the game, how often you are able to play, and how much time you are prepared to spend practising, it might take years.
Most people new to golf can expect it to take around two years to become proficient at the game. Some people may pick it up more rapidly; others may take longer.
But the most important thing to remember is that golf, like all games, is just that: it’s a game. So your main goal for playing golf should always be to enjoy yourself. To help you improve your game (and thus make it more enjoyable), we’ve put together a few tips to help get your skill level up and your game score down.
Start with the Basics
So you’ve just purchased your first set of golf clubs. Those shiny new items, resting neatly in that sassy golf bag, are just begging you to get out onto the fairway or down to the driving range and start slugging away. But there are a few basics you need to master before you begin your journey to the top of the golf card.
Coordination is the Key
When it comes to successful play, hand to eye coordination is key. The better the harmonious connection between your hands and your eyes, the easier it will be for your body to adjust to the movements of the game. For some people, this will come easily; others will have to work at it.
Hand to eye coordination can be improved by playing other sports such as table tennis. Even bouncing a ball can help improve your hand/eye skills. Try bouncing a golf ball up and down on a club. There are lots of videos online of people doing this and you can use drills like this to rapidly improve your coordination.
But, as is often the case, getting out on the course and hitting balls is the best way of all to ramp up your skills.
Warming up is a vital part of any sport. It not only prepares and stretches your muscles and joints for the coming activity. Just as importantly, it helps to focus your mind on what you wish to achieve.
So your pre-round warm up - a few stretches and a set of deep breaths - will get your body and your mind into the proper state of readiness for the game.
Champion golfer Arnold Palmer’s assertation that successful golf depends as much on “strength of mind and character” applies just as much to a beginner as it does to a top-ranking golf pro.
Body and Soul
Strolling around a golf course may not seem like a whole lot of work, anyone who is intent on getting the best results from their golf needs to be in good shape.
If you watch professional golfers these days, you will see that the best of them (both men and women) are in excellent physical shape. Many of them have personal trainers to assist them to train in the gym for the rigours of the golf course.
They also employ nutritionists to ensure that their diet is specifically tailored for their needs. Of course, a beginner at golf doesn’t need to go that far…but you still need to be in good shape. A round of golf shouldn’t be an ordeal and if you lack fitness, you will find that your game will suffer and it will take longer for you to become proficient. Nothing ruins a tee shot more than sweat in your eyes!
Routines are Important
Most high level sports people have a pre-game routine. He or she will run through a routine of actions before they begin to play. It’s exactly the same with golf.
On the golf course you need to have a clearly-defined routine that you run through with every shot. Start with your placement of the ball on the tee, then continue through your approach to the shot, your wind-up and swing, your follow-through, and your departure from the tee.
As your muscle memory improves, so will your game and you will automatically begin to hit every shot in exactly the same way.
Short Game; Long Game
Your short game is vital to getting your scores down and improving your overall skill level. Sure, you might be able to smash those long drives down the fairway, but the fine work on the putting green is where your skill level really counts.
Putt, Putt, Chip
The driving range is important for getting your big swings right. But chipping from outside the 10 metre mark and putting inside the 1 metre mark are where the skill-sets really count.
Instead of spending all of your time (and money) on the driving range, hit the practice green and to practice your chips and putts. You can also do this in your living room (if your significant other doesn’t object) or at work if you have a sympathetic boss.
Use the Tech to Monitor Your Progress.
There are plenty of apps and gadgets available these days to monitor and evaluate your swing, your flight paths and your hit/miss ratios.
These virtual tools are a great way to give you insights into how your game is progressing, and help you to make changes to your method where necessary.
Developers have even come up with apps that allow you to set up a virtual golf bag, complete with your customised set of favourite clubs, and then track your performance with each shot of each club.
There are plenty of online tutorials and even virtual golf teachers that can ramp your game up from beginner to awesome in pretty short order.
There are also lots and lots of cool electronic gadgets on the market to help you with ranging and distances. Using these you can figure out how hard to hit the ball, how far it is to hazards, assess the wind direction and humidity and pretty much measure every aspect of your game. Endless hours of high-tech fun!
Practice Makes Your Game…Better
Let’s face it. You aren’t going to play the perfect game right from the get-go. Like all pastimes, the skills associated with golf take time to learn. That hackneyed old adage that “practice makes perfect” was never truer than when it is applied to golf.
Play for Fun; Practice for Work
Treat your practice sessions like a business. Once you start playing lots of golf, you will soon identify your strengths and weaknesses in your game. So spend lots of time working on improving the weak areas of your game AND, practising the strongest parts of your game.
Pro golfers and golf coaches all identify the need to have at least one really strong part to their golf skill set. That way you can rely on your best moves - say an excellent ability with long drives, or a sharp way with the putter - to cancel out the effects of the weaker parts of your game.
Identify your weaknesses and work on them; and practice your best shots until you can do them without thinking.
Overnight Success Can Take Years!
Professional golfers are detail-oriented. They have set routines for each shot, keep their temper (mostly), and work hard to produce good results. Watch the pros at work. Take notes and replay their games.
Remember, even the best professional golfer or the most skillful amateur started out as a beginner just like you. And it took them time to become average, then proficient, then experts. You can do the same. Be patient, practice hard and play the long game.
If you're interested in more ways of how to level up your game, check out how we can help.