Do you regularly read one of the many golf magazines? Do you watch videos online? Do you watch the instructional programs on The Golf Channel? If you do, then you might have realized that they all have one thing in common. They want you to believe that playing your best golf is a simple and easy process. All you have to do is a few simple steps and you will play better than you ever thought possible. The research in the field of motor learning simply does not back this up, and deep down you know that too.
The reason why all these mediums present golf improvement in this way, is that it gets you back for the next episode or to purchase next month’s magazine. Their medium is infotainment, and increasing the size of their audience. There is not a player on a PGA Tour anywhere in the world who got there by reading magazines or watching videos. Does that mean the information presented in these mediums has no value in improving your golf game? Not at all. But you must be able to decipher what is relevant to your goals, the tendencies in your game and thus your long term improvement.
You want to know the real secret to playing the best golf possible? Here it is: Stop trying to make your golf swing look like a Tour player and start working to improve your golf skills.
Golf is made up of a series of essential playing skills:
1. Control the ball well enough with your full swing that you can keep it in play
2. Pitch the ball onto the green from inside 50 yards
3. Chip the ball close to the hole from around the green
4. Be able to putt the ball into the hole in no more than two strokes each hole.
5. Have the mental skills that allow you to execute the above four playing skills.
How well you can perform each of these skills will determine your score on the course on any given day. So your first job must be to measure your ability in each of these areas and determine in which area you perform the worst. This is the area that requires the bulk of your attention. This is a process undertaken by many Tour Players — identify the weakest link and work on it until it is the strongest part of your game, then repeat the process.
Improving any of the skills above will take an investment of time and resources, but the alternative is to continue hitting the same old poor shots and shooting the same old scores. Is that what you really want?
Over the next few issues I will outline how you can take a skills-based approach to improving your golf game. I will show you ways to assess your current skills and identify the weakest areas of your game. You will then be able to focus your attention on the things that lower your scores the fastest through drills that focus on skill development. It may be a different approach to what you experienced in the past, but then the results will be different also — lower scores this season than you have ever shot in the past.