Why is the average golfer not getting better?
By Dominic Sainsbury
New Zealand PGA General Manager
The Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) is constantly following golf trends and conducting research into the game of golf. This month we would like to identify three trends that we have been following with a lot of interest.
1. The average club golfers’ handicap has been on a small increase for the past 20 years. This is despite golf courses being better maintained now with all the advances in course maintenance equipment and technology, all the advances in golf equipment, the ball now goes further, clubs are made to be more forgiving and easier to use, we have a better understanding of the body, golfing techniques and the biomechanics of golf.
2. PGA Tour professionals are getting a better a lot better. PGA Tour players are hitting the ball further than ever, scoring averages on tour are better than ever and course designers are no longer designing courses for tour players as they simply cannot make them long enough.
3. Golf membership is in decline. This is a global issue and we have seen a steady decline in club membership numbers across New Zealand over the past 10 years. One of the main reasons for people leaving the game is that they are simply not getting the enjoyment they require with the financial and time commitments they are putting in.
One argument for the increase in the average players handicap could be that the average golfer in New Zealand is increasing in age. If this is the case then this is also an alarming trend as without the increase in young people coming into our game the future is the past. That is a game for the older generation.
How do we learn from these trends and look at them as opportunities?
To address the issues pointed out in points 1 and 3 we need to start with the positives in point 2 — what are tour professionals doing to get better? Well the good news is it is not rocket science. Three key areas I would like to point out that PGA Tour players take very seriously,
1. Physical conditioning. This allows a player to get the most out of their body and has a direct link into hitting the ball further, reduces the risk of injury and allows a player to be more consistent with all aspects of their game.
2. Psychology. This is one area that is often overlooked by the average golfer. We all have doubt and negative thoughts when we play. Tour players are aware of this and seek help to combat the self doubt thoughts. This allows tour players to treat situations as opportunities rather than negatives and allows them to set a course management strategy and stick to it.
3. Equipment set up. This includes having all clubs custom fitted down to the finest detail, including consistent lofts between clubs, swing weight and overall club weight, club length, shaft flex, club head design and material, set make up and other aspects of club componentry. One area that is often over looked is the putter. Forty percent of a tour players’ score is on average made up from putting. Arguably this is the most important club to have correctly fitted in your bag.
Here is the good news. PGA professionals are trained and skilled in all these three areas.
We believe the key to helping the average golfer get better and get more enjoyment when playing is by improving your physical movement patterns specific to golf (this should also help improve your overall quality of life), improve your course psychology and approach to course management and have your equipment set up correctly for you, including all aspects of your equipment (especially your putter).
Get in contact with your PGA professional today to have a physical, mental and equipment assessment today. https://www.pga.org.nz/find-a-pga-pro.