Golf is one of those sports that you either love or love to hate. Some people really enjoy spending the day driving a ball down the course, while others simply believe it is a waste of time. Regardless of how you feel about the sport, you are here because you want to know, is golf hard?
In general, golf is not a hard sport to learn. However, it can take years of practice and expensive lessons to perfect your game, and even then, you may never reach the level of perfection you want.
Continue reading to learn more about golf, what makes it difficult, and ways to avoid some of the most common problems that beginner golfers face.
What is Golf?
Golf is a sport in which players use clubs to hit a ball into a hole. A variety of clubs are available for the player to use and each one causes the golf ball to act differently. The game is played on a golf course that typically features 18 holes, with each hole being a specific number of yards away from the golfer’s initial starting point.
While it might seem like an easy game from the sidelines, golf is actually one of the most challenging sports to play. Players must try to calculate the best shot for their current situation, choose the right club for that shot, and then try their best to complete the shot perfectly.
However, it is not a game that must be played competitively, and many people find golf to be a wonderful way to spend a leisurely afternoon with friends, colleagues, or family.
Is Golf Hard to Learn?
It depends. I know that is not an ideal answer, but there are many factors that must be considered when answering this question. For starters, learning to play will be harder for someone who does not have any prior experience with the game than it would be for someone who is somewhat versed in golf etiquette or has spent time on a course before. Additionally, some players come into the sport with natural mental and physical talents that help them excel quickly, while others find learning to play an extremely frustrating process.
Generally, the average person will find golf to be difficult at first. It can take several months (and in some cases, years) to reach a point where you can be considered a decent golfer, and even then, most people struggle with at least one aspect of the game for much longer than that.
What Makes Golf a Difficult Game to Play?
Golf is a sinister game. People walk into the game thinking, “what could be so hard about whacking a few balls?” before quickly learning that golf has a secret agenda to ruin you mentally from the inside out. (Prepare yourself for mid-game breakdowns!) But what is it that makes golf such a difficult game to master?
It’s a Mental Game
You have thought about it for days—this shot. You calculated the best club to use, the direction of your swing, your stance, and everything in between. There should be no reason to miss this shot. You pull back, swing, and your ball is in the pond. Welcome to golf.
Golf is challenging, not because it takes sheer strength or brute force, but because it asks you to look at your own flaws, critique them, and then watch yourself fail—again, and again, and again. How many people can honestly say they can do that for hours on end?
But if it is so bad, why play at all? I would be willing to bet that every golfer on earth has silently threatened to quit at one point or another, and then it happened; a hole-in-one, a perfect shot, something that gave them a small glimpse into what it would feel like to play perfectly, and they were hooked yet again.
You Must Be Patient
Although this has less to do with learning the game and more to do with the game itself, it is still an aspect of the sport that some people just cannot get past. Unless you are practicing by yourself, you will spend quite a lot of time in between shots waiting for others to play or moving around the course. For those who care less about playing well and more about spending time relaxing, this is great. However, if you are already frustrated with yourself for missing a shot, this can be a nightmare.
Years Of Practice
You can learn enough to become a decent golfer rather easily, but it could take the rest of your life to truly master every single aspect of the game. Even players who are playing at a professional level still seek out golf lessons to build their weaker skills. For some people, knowing that they may spend decades practicing only to find that they never really improved is just not worth the time.
Pull out the high school textbooks because you are going to need to brush up on your physics. Sure, it would be lovely if you could just walk up to the ball and tell it where you want it to land, but that is not reality. In the real world, you will have to understand the relationship between you, your club, and the ball. This is especially helpful when you find yourself in a sand trap or faced with an awkward lie.
Obviously, when compared to a game like football, golf does not look like it would be physically demanding but looks can be deceiving. Golfers do a lot of walking from point A to point B, they often carry heavy bags, and they need to have the physical ability to perform a swing (which is a full-body movement) with both power and control.
We could write an entire article on just the various types of golf swings that a golfer needs to learn, but suffice it to say, it is a lot. Not only will you have to learn about the multiple types of shots you can choose to perform, but you will have to know when the best time to use each one is and how to approach the shot in various situations. For example, suppose you found yourself in a sand trap. Which club would you use? What angle would you hit the ball from? How much power and force would you apply? Or let’s say you know you want to ball to land at a certain point; how can you get it there? There are ways that instructors can help facilitate learning in these areas, but a lot of it will come down to practice.
You might be able to get the ball to land where you wanted it to once, but can you repeat that shot again and again? If you want to perfect your game, the answer will eventually need to be yes, but building this consistency can take time and many years of developing good habits. Even then, you might have an off day, and there are few things less frustrating than being able to make a shot consistently hundreds of times and bombing it when it really counts.
Tips For Beginner Golfers
If you have made it this far and are still interested in golf, good for you! Golf might be difficult, but it is that difficulty that makes it such a rewarding game to play. If you are thinking about taking lessons, you might want to check out the quick beginner tips below.
Take lessons: it is possible to teach yourself through online tutorials, but you will not get the personalized training that you would from an instructor who is able to diagnose problems in your form, stance, grip, or swing and help you correct them. Even if you decide to save money and teach yourself, it is worth investing in a lesson or two each month to spot problems before they become bad habits.
to practice: Practice is vital if you ever hope to get better and being available to practice is important as a beginner. Even just hitting balls in your backyard can help you get a feel for the different clubs and their relationship with the ball.
Pay attention to the little things: It is utterly amazing (and slightly frustrating) how much something as seemingly innocent as a grip can affect your game, so make sure you are paying attention to each movement you make while practicing.
Ask for help: Every good golfer was a bad golfer once, and some still are! Do not be ashamed to ask for help or feedback from instructors, partners, or other players.
Learn about clubs before buying a set: the last thing you want to do is sink hundreds of dollars into a set of clubs that will not work well for you. Additionally, you might find it to be worth investing in some beginner clubs. Either way, make sure you have a solid understanding of what you are buying.
Choose a course that matches your skills: trying to play on an expert-level course as a beginner will only cause frustration and anxiety. Make sure to choose courses that appropriately match your current skills and playing level.
Learn proper golf etiquette: this will not help your game, but it is important in the world of golf. Things, like not talking during a swing, waiting your turn, and taking care of the course, are all important things to know.
Examine yourself: This does not mean berating yourself or putting yourself down over every little mistake. It simply means that beginners should be able to look at themselves with a critical eye and remain aware of areas where they can improve.
Do not forget to have fun! Golf can be a rewarding game, but only when you allow yourself to loosen up and enjoy the game.
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