The process to improve is difficult

By Anthony Barkley
NZPGA Professional

I have been coaching for a number of years now and although I love to coach and help people you develop a rather thick skin in regards to feedback. The truth is up to 70% don’t stick to changes you prescribe to them. Why, because its hard to change a habit and the issue we have as golfers is that although we have an underlying fault, it works sometimes. What I mean here is that during a round you will get the odd great shot or you will have a great round and the need to change suddenly becomes less important.

The truth is you likely got lucky in the fact that your rhythm and timing pulled everything together allowing you to hit a ball from A to B on that day. The issue is that this may not last. Rhythm is like the sun this winter. It disappears as quick as it comes and every so often it will stay around all day. 

Rhythm is the glue of any golf swing as it pulls everything together allowing things to work in harmony. 

But if out that harmony is disturbed by a frustrating series of inconsistent golf shots. Been there before? I know I have.

As club golfers (I put myself into that category as well these days as I don’t practice) we don’t play enough to have a consistent rhythm. Better players get away with it as they have a better understanding of their game. We can wing it in effect and shoot good scores on occasion and have a few blow outs. The average club golfer can be on more of a rollercoaster and this is where technical help will help long term.

So back to my original topic, why don’t club golfers stick to what is prescribed? I think comfort, ego and self conscious thoughts get in the way. I will leave time out as this is of course a major issue as well.

Let me share some experiences in regards to comfort that I have seen time and time again on the range over the years. As a coach the grip is so important. It essentially controls the club head in regards to face position at impact as it’s the only actual link to the club. But this is often the hardest to teach or more so to change but it’s usually the quickest if you give it a chance. I have had lessons where the student refuses to change the grip as they feel they won’t be able to hit the shot at all. It feels that uncomfortable. The key is baby steps using feet together etc before you go straight into full swings. The first few veer off in all directions and comments are “I cant do it” or “it wont work”. A few more shots after some encouragement and suddenly we get a lofted shot that goes where it suppose to go. A few swings later things get better as the hands adjust to the new feel and position. But next time you see them its gone back to the old grip or somewhere in between. That’s what the grip will do sub consciously so you have to really work hard to change the pattern of how you put it on each time. 

Remember that golf is a series of routines, make one and stick to it.

I think EGO is also an issue as the first game back if often a bit rusty as you work on the change. Pressure comes in and often that fear of losing to fellow golfers overrides the change. So what’s the easiest way out? Go back to what is comfortable and hope for the best. 

Then there is the self conscious issue. Similar to EGO being self conscious about your game makes change harder as you don’t want to look foolish. The general cycle is that someone gets a lesson and they don’t work on the changes, rather they play thinking they can change things on the course. Yes, this can happen but its very difficult so because there is consequence to each shot on the course things can go wrong. So hard to change the way people think as most don’t want to practice. Self confidence only comes with success and success will decrease the self conscious negative cycle. 

TIP: Do your practice on the course (2 balls only) in your own time if you don’t want to hit lots of balls. It’s harder to make the change but can work.

I hope this helps some of you out there.

Sarah HeadComment