Common Mistakes Amateur Golfers Make And How To Avoid Them

Mistakes are inevitable when you're new to something- that’s virtually a given. However, we know that you would want to remedy these errors in a timely manner, since nobody likes to look like a fool, especially when it comes to competitive sports, like golf.

Don’t know where your errors may lie? In this blog post, we highlight the most common mistakes, and what you can do to prevent making them time and time again.

Improper Grip

Now hold your horses there! Before you just go out, pick up a club and try to slog the ball as far as you can, there’s a lot to know about grip. You’re not Happy Gilmore, and you don’t use a driver for every shot!

Not surprisingly, an improper grip is one of the most common deficits that manifest in amateurs. I mean, just think about it - it's your only point of contact with the club, so it's gotta be good! 

golfer with good grip

A proper grip allows you to control the clubface and hit those sweet shots, but an improper grip can lead to all sorts of issues like poor ball striking, lack of control, and inconsistent shots.

Some common grip mistakes include gripping the club too tightly (which can cause tension and ruin your feel), gripping the club too loosely (which can cause the club to slip and result in mis-hits), and incorrect hand placement on the grip (which can cause the clubface to open or close at impact). 

So, to avoid these mistakes and up your game, make sure to focus on getting that grip just right. This includes finding the right-hand placement on the grip, maintaining a light but firm grip pressure, and keeping those hands relaxed. Trust me, it'll make a huge difference in your game!

Poor Alignment

The next most common mistake would have to be poor alignment. Alignment is an important factor in golf because it determines the direction in which your ball will ultimately go.. When you are poorly aligned, your ball will likely go off course, resulting in lost shots and a higher (poor) score. 

Poor alignment can also cause problems with your swing plane and impact, leading to inconsistency and lack of control in your shots. However, the good news is that poor alignment is a fixable mistake! By paying attention to your body position and clubface alignment, you can make sure that you are properly aligned before each shot.

To achieve proper alignment, start by positioning your body parallel to the target line. This means that if you are hitting a shot down the fairway, your feet, hips, and shoulders should be lined up parallel to the fairway. This will give you a good foundation for a consistent swing. 

Next, make sure that your clubface is aligned with the target line. This means that the grooves on the clubface should be pointing toward your target. If the clubface is misaligned, your shots will likely go off course.

In addition to body and clubface alignment, it is also important to pay attention to your grip too. Your grip plays a key role in how you control the clubface and the direction of your shots. 

If your grip is too weak or too strong, it can cause alignment issues and result in shots going off course. 

Make sure that you are holding the club with a neutral grip, with your palms facing each other and your thumbs pointing down the shaft of the club for the best results.

Inconsistent Pre-Shot Routine

Do you have a pre-shot routine? If you answered no, then you really should start working on one. A pre-shot routine refers to a sequence of steps that a golfer goes through before hitting a shot, helping to focus the mind and prepare the body for the shot. Without a consistent pre-shot routine, golfers can easily get distracted, lose their focus, or struggle to hit good shots.

An inconsistent pre-shot routine can manifest in a few different ways. Some amateur golfers might rush through their pre-shot routine, while others might take too long or get too bogged down in details. 

poor preshot routine

Some might skip important steps, while others might include unnecessary or irrelevant steps. Whatever the form it takes, an inconsistent pre-shot routine can be detrimental to a golfer's performance on the course.

So, how can amateur golfers avoid this mistake and develop a consistent pre-shot routine? The first step is to identify the specific steps that should be included in your pre-shot routine. These might include things like assessing the shot, picking a target, visualizing the shot, and setting up to the ball. 

Once you have identified the steps that you want to include in your pre-shot routine, the next step is to practice them consistently on the range. This will help you to develop muscle memory and establish a reliable and repeatable sequence of actions.

Finally, it's important to be mindful of the time that you spend on your pre-shot routine. While it's important to take the time to prepare for each shot properly, you don't want to get bogged down or rushed. 

Finding the right balance is key to developing a consistent pre-shot routine that helps you to focus and execute good shots.

Swaying And Sliding During The Swing

Fidgeting during your swing is a big faux pas. This can have a huge impact on the accuracy and power of your shots, and it can be difficult to correct if you're not aware of it. Swaying refers to lateral movement of the lower body during the swing, while sliding refers to the movement of the feet on the ground. 

Both of these movements can cause the upper body to be out of sync with the lower body, which can lead to poor contact with the ball and mis-hits.

To avoid swaying and sliding, it's important to maintain balance and stability throughout the swing. This starts with a solid setup position, with your weight evenly distributed on both feet. From there, focus on turning your body around a stable axis as you swing the club. This will help you maintain your balance and control your body movement. It's also important to keep your feet planted and avoid lifting them off the ground during the swing.

Correcting swaying and sliding can be a challenging task, but it's worth the effort. By maintaining balance and stability, you'll be able to generate more power and control in your shots. You'll also be able to hit the ball more consistently and avoid those frustrating mis-hits.

Not Adapting To Course Conditions

Do you consider yourself adaptable? Adaptability is a necessary trait when playing golf, especially as it relates to the prevailing condition on the course. Many players get so focused on their own game that they forget to consider the impact of the course on their shots. 

rainy and cloudy course conditions

However, course conditions can have a huge impact on how you play. For example, if the fairways are wet and muddy, you may need to adjust your swing to account for the added resistance. If the greens are fast, you'll need to be extra careful with your approach shots and putts to avoid racing past the hole.

Ignoring course conditions can lead to frustration and poor scores, but adapting to them can be incredibly rewarding. It's exciting to hit a shot that you might not normally be able to make because you've taken the course conditions into account. 

It can also give you a psychological advantage over your opponents, as you'll be better prepared to handle the challenges that the course presents.

Poor Course Management

The first time most amateurs hear the phrase “course management”, they're understandably confused. After all, why do they need to know how to run the course?

Good thing it has nothing to do with that! Poor course management is a common mistake made by amateur golfers, and it ties in closely with the mistake of not adapting to course conditions. Good course management involves more than just hitting the ball down the fairway; it also involves making strategic decisions on the course based on your strengths and weaknesses as a golfer, as well as the specific conditions of the course.

For example, if you are playing on a windy day, good course management might involve choosing a club that allows you to hit a lower, more controlled shot rather than trying to hit a high, powerful shot that is more likely to be affected by the wind. 

Or, if you are playing on a course with small, well-guarded greens, good course management might involve leaving yourself an extra club's worth of distance for your approach shots so that you have a better chance of hitting the green and giving yourself a chance for birdie.

On the other hand, poor course management often involves making poor club selections, taking unnecessary risks, and not considering the specific conditions of the course. For example, an amateur golfer might choose to hit a driver on every hole, even if the hole is a short par 4 that doesn't require a lot of distance. 

Or, they might try to hit a shot over a water hazard when it would be safer and more strategic to lay up and leave themselves a shorter shot into the green.

Lack Of Power In The Swing

Lack of power during your swing can be a frustrating problem, as it can limit the distance that you can hit the ball and make it more difficult to get out of tricky situations on the course. However, it's important to remember that generating power in your golf swing is a skill that can be developed with practice.

One key contributing factor in generating power is having the proper body alignment. Make sure that your feet, hips, and shoulders are properly aligned with the target. This will allow you to transfer energy from your lower body to your upper body as you swing, resulting in more power.

Another important factor is the angle of your clubface at impact. If your clubface is not properly aligned with the ball, it can result in a lack of power and poor shot accuracy. Pay attention to your clubface position as you swing and make adjustments as needed.

You can also increase your power by using a proper grip. A strong grip, where your hands are rotated clockwise on the club, can allow you to generate more power and control.

Finally, it's important to focus on your swing mechanics. A smooth, fluid swing is essential for generating power and control. Make sure that you are not rushing your swing and that you are using the proper muscle groups to generate power.

If you think that you’ve done everything correctly in the technical department, but still struggling with power, it may be necessary to take a look at your workout and nutritional strategies.

Keep in mind the importance of a good breakfast and intra-round nutrition, as a hungry body is unlikely to perform at peak performance.

Whole In One Bars are excellent for fueling your game, and Foundation is recommended for increasing muscle strength and power output during your workout sessions in the gym.

Lack Of Control In The Swing

Lack of control has the most significant impact on the accuracy of your swings and is a skill that can be improved with practice. When you lack control in your swing, you may hit shots that go too far or not far enough, and you may struggle to get the ball to go where you want it to go.

This can lead to frustration on the course, as well as higher scores. However, with the right techniques and practice, you can improve your control and take your game to the next level.

One key aspect of gaining control of your swing is developing a consistent swing plane. This refers to the path that your club follows as you swing it back and forth. 

A consistent swing plane helps you control the direction and distance of your shots, and it is especially important for controlling your iron shots. 

To develop a consistent swing plane, try using alignment sticks or a hosel stick to set up a visual aid for your swing. You can also practice swinging with a weighted club or using a swing trainer to help groove the proper motion.

Another important factor in gaining control of your swing is mastering your clubface control. The clubface is the part of the club that makes contact with the ball, and if it is not square at impact, it can cause your shots to go off-course. To improve your clubface control, focus on keeping your hands and wrists in a neutral position throughout your swing. This will help you avoid flipping or scooping the club at impact, which will cause shots to go too high or too low.

Poor Putting Technique

Putting is often considered the most important part of the game, as it determines how many strokes a player takes to get the ball into the hole. A player with poor putting technique is likely to take more strokes on the green, which can add up quickly over the course of a round.

golfer missed hole

But what causes difficulty with putting? There are several contributing factors.

One thing that amateur golfers often struggle with is properly reading the green. This involves understanding the slope and break of the green and determining the correct line to aim for. Without proper reading skills, a player may end up leaving the ball short or long of the hole or even sending it off the green altogether.

Another common mistake is improper grip on the putter. Many amateur golfers grip the putter too tightly, which can cause the hands to shake and the stroke to become jerky. A loose, relaxed grip is key to a smooth, fluid putting stroke.

Alignment is another issue here as well, which occurs when the player is not correctly setting up their body and the putter to the target line. This can cause the ball to veer off course and miss the hole.

To improve your putting technique, it's important to practice regularly and pay attention to your setup and stroke. Consider working with a golf coach or taking a putting lesson to get personalized feedback and guidance.

Poor Short Game Technique

Your short game, which includes all shots played from within 100 yards of the green, can make or break your round. Unfortunately, many amateur golfers struggle with this crucial aspect of the game( of which putting is just one aspect). 

One of the reasons for this is that the short game requires a high level of touch and feel, which can be difficult to develop. Another reason is that many amateur golfers neglect to practice their short game as much as they should.

But there's good news- improving your short game doesn't have to be difficult! 

With some dedicated practice and the right approach, you can quickly see significant improvements in your short game. Some key tips for improving your short game include:

  • Practice your short game regularly: Make sure to set aside time in your practice schedule specifically for short game drills.
  • Use a variety of clubs: Don't just stick to one club for your short-game shots. Experiment with different wedges and learn how to hit different types of shots with each one.
  • Work on your chipping technique: A good chip shot can save you strokes on the course, so make sure to spend time practicing your chipping technique.
  • Improve your bunker play: Many amateur golfers struggle with bunker shots, but with some practice and the right techniques, you can become proficient in this area of the game.
  • Develop a good putting stroke: A consistent, smooth putting stroke is crucial for success in the short game. Make sure to practice your putting regularly and work on your aim and speed control.

Above all, mastering this aspect requires a significant amount of practice and patience. Don't get discouraged if you don't see immediate results – with time and effort, you'll start to see your short-game skills improve and your scores drop.

Final Words

So, is that all that goes into making a good golfer? No, but those skills definitely build the base you need to continually progress over the years you plan to play. Feeling things out are fine when you’re green to the sport, but you don't want to be that one guy or girl who doesn't seem to be getting better even after a solid 2-3 years of experience.

Focus on overcoming the mistakes discussed above, and you’ll be on your way to a good score.