Woe is me (or, why is this game so goddam hard?)

RangeMonkey

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Ok, I’m starting a thread to stop me from hijacking other threads with my tales of misery.

Here’s a summary of what is spread out over other posts, with some bits I haven’t mentioned yet. It’s basically my “story so far”.

In August last year, a bloke a work mentioned he goes to a local driving range (Trafford Golf Centre) after work, and asked me if I fancied a trip out the next week.

Now, I’m 53 and overweight, but I have a very sporty background. I’m a long time practitioner of yoga and Tai Chi, and have now and then instructed Tai Chi. I’ve competed in fencing, archery, martial arts, tennis, badminton and squash. I’ve been an obsessive indoor rower, once rowing a half marathon in just over 90 minutes. I’ve been a sport rock climber. I’m quite competitive.

This means I didn’t want to turn up at the range with work colleagues, having never hit a golf ball in my life. So, on a day off I happened to have, I went to the range to book an “assessment lesson”, thinking I’d get a few tips, and perhaps not embarrass myself in front of the lads. At the lesson, the PGA coach would not believe I’d never hit a golf ball. Almost every ball I hit went reasonably straight, and by the end of the lesson I was hitting a seven iron about 120 yards. This is what I fully expected. I’m good at sport. One time I trained with Shaolin monks, and the instructor, who could barely speak English, came to me in class and said “Your kungfu very good”. I thought I could die happy.

But now golf has robbed me of my self-satisfied demise...

After the assessment lesson, I went to the range with my workmates, and they, too, would not believe I’d never played. I was puzzled why they were hitting them all over the show.

So, I decided to book more lessons, and buy some clubs.

By October, I’d started working to a training plan and keeping range stats, and with all my clubs, I was hitting 70-80% of my shots straight (within my fairly generous definition of straight - would it hit a 30 yard wide fairway), and getting fair (but no good) distance.

In November, it fell apart. Sucdenly, in every session, the only way I could make half decent contact was to reduce to a half swing. By this stage, I’d had about 8 lessons. I was due my next lesson, hoping this could be sorted, when I broke a rib.

The physio said I’d be out until New Year, but in my youth I’d fought martial arts comps with broken toes and fingers, so I had no intention of letting it take that long! By the beginning of December, the physio gave me the all clear, and I went back to the range.

I was in the same place as before, barely able to hit the ball. At my next lesson, it seemed to come together, but at my very next range session it was gone again. And the next, and the next...

Afer going all through December and barely managing to hit a dozen decent shots out of about 800 range balls, I posted on here that I was desperate, and thinking of giving up.

Also, over Christmas, I went onto my local par 3 course twice. I thoroughly enjoyed it... but more for the walk than the golf. First time I played 10 holes and shot 61, second time I played 13 and shot 79 ... that’s 13 par 3’s, so 40 over on 13 par 3s. Statistically, that’s about the same as shooting around 145 on a par 72 course... the WHS will apparently allow handicaps up to 54...but not 73!

Then I went for another lesson last week, and again, during the lesson, things improved dramatically. And this time, at my next three range sessions, I was hitting the ball the best I ever have. I had one session with my hybrid where every single range ball (40) on the bounce carried about 160 yards, and landed within a 20 yard wide slot on the range. I was deliriously happy, and posted on here to say so.

Then, again, it fell apart. I don’t mean it got less good. I didn’t go to topping or shanking a couple, or missing the target. I went to missing the ball.

Probably one swing in three was an air shot. I had 40 range balls, and must have had to swing 50 or 60 times to shift them, because I keep missing. And when I did hit them, generally, I barely made contact - maybe clipping the ball by a millimetre or two, and giving it just enough momentum to trickle into the gravel in front of the mat. I made enough contact with three or four to send them out to about 20 yards.

So, apart from three good sessions, I basically haven’t been able to hit the ball since the beginning of November, despite a couple of lessons in that time.

Since August, I’ve had ten lessons, I visited the range 4-5 times a week, and I‘ve hit over 5000 balls. Ive got six more lessons pre-paid for, but I’m not sure I can face doing them. After being at least “good” at every other sport I’ve tried, and frankly, really good at a few, this seems to have me beat.

It‘s so frustrating that it started so well, and for three months I saw steady, significant gain, to then be followed by almost three months where I honestly - literally - could do no worse if I swung with my eyes shut. That’s not an exaggeration, it’s really that bad.

I‘m away with work at the moment, so even if I were tempted to give it another go (and currently I’m not), I couldn’t.

At the moment I have no plans to visit the range or the course, or to take any more lessons.

If after a week or so, I feel I want to try, then I’ll book a lesson, and see what happens.

If I haven‘t had that desire by a few weeks from now, I’ll probably hold my hands up, admit that I‘m nto suited to golf, and sell my gear.

P.S.
This is all long-game. My short game shots (“finesse wedges”, a la Sieckman) seemed ok still, last time I tried about a week ago, and haven’t suffered the same slump. I’ve had no short game coaching. I’ve self taught from Sieckman and Pelz. Maybe I need to find a par 2 course...
 

Tashyboy

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I don’t know what your lessons have consisted of with The amount you have had, but your basics, your ritual ( or routine ) should be engrained. At your next lesson I would be asking to go back to basics. The thing is, you know you can hit it. Part of the game is analysing what you have done wrong.
one of the problems with range work is just bladdering balls. For me you need to mix it up a bit.
 

Coffey

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I am not a qualified professional but, when I struggle it is normally because I am concentrating so much on so many different things that i dont just swing the club.

So first of all, what has your pro got you working on?

My suggestion, similar to Tash, strip everything back, focus on making contact with the ball and nothing else. Dont care where it is going or how far. Concentrate on the club hitting the back of the ball. Even if this takes half swings or even 1/4 swing.

Then start to ramp it up, little bits at a time. Do not try and incorporate every single thing into your swing.

Swing freely and naturally as obviously you have good eye hand coordination

Building a new golf swing takes A LOT of time, and you will have set backs.

As I said before in another thread. I can go from striking it brilliantly to hitting shanks on demand within 1 shot.
 

duncan mackie

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You established what the clubs can do - now you are trying to establish what you can do with them....

Golf is about letting the club do the work (badminton is an excellent comparison - you can hit a clearance with timing from rear to rear, but you can thrash it at it with massive energy and no timing and it won't go anywhere!).

I know this - but am still unable to hit a driver at the range because I test it to the destruction of my swing (every time).
 

RangeMonkey

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I don’t know what your lessons have consisted of with The amount you have had, but your basics, your ritual ( or routine ) should be engrained. At your next lesson I would be asking to go back to basics. The thing is, you know you can hit it. Part of the game is analysing what you have done wrong.
one of the problems with range work is just bladdering balls. For me you need to mix it up a bit.

A fair point, but just hammering balls is something I try to avoid. I go through a full routine for each ball:

  1. Place the ball on the mat (off the auto-pop-up thing)
  2. Select a target
  3. Step behind the ball to bet the line
  4. Come to address away from the ball, on line
  5. Visualise the shot
  6. Practice swing
  7. Step forward
  8. Quick alignment check
  9. Swing
  10. Hold the final position and watch the full ball flight
  11. Step away from the mat and record the result
I won’t claim to do that for every shot in every session, but that’s my general approach. Probably 80% of the time I stick to it?
 

Tashyboy

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Which seems good to me, but again it falls back onto analysing quickly what is going wrong. ☹️
 

Crow

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Sounds to me like you've got too much going on in your head, try watching this video by one of the greatest teachers ever, I find it helpful when all's gone awry.
And watch it all, don't skip!

 

Orikoru

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You do hear stories like this frequently - overdose on lessons making things worse rather than better. Head a complete jumble of swing thoughts and you can't swing the club. Why not have one session where you forget what you've been 'taught' and just do what feels natural. Shut your eyes if you need to. Because it sounds like you had a good natural aptitude but it's been clouded and muddied by trying to change too much too soon and you've lost all your natural rhythm.
 

garyinderry

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Post a video of your swing. It's easy to do and also a good way to log your progress.

If you are doing something silly, it will be quite easy to spot.
 

Parsaregood

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I would say at your stage of learning, you probably need to step away from hitting balls at a range with no consequence and actually get out on a course or even to a grass range or short game area. Thing about a driving range is, it's a place where you can get very mechanical and focus on perfecting a position or drilling a feel. usually if Im making a change I'll hit 3 balls doing a drill then hit 1 without any mechanical thoughts. It's very hard to consistantly hit good shots when your main focus is hitting a position or nailing a feel rather than making solid contact. Get out on the course and learn to score
 

Slab

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Sounds to me like you've got too much going on in your head, try watching this video by one of the greatest teachers ever, I find it helpful when all's gone awry.
And watch it all, don't skip!


Clicked on it but instantly stopped after being put off by that fact that its over an hour long... is listening to a coach give guidance/instructions for over an hour really going to reduce how much is going on in my head (serious question)
 

Crow

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Clicked on it but instantly stopped after being put off by that fact that its over an hour long... is listening to a coach give guidance/instructions for over an hour really going to reduce how much is going on in my head (serious question)

Ah, the short attention spans we have today!
 

Orikoru

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i only skimmed the OP, but i don't think i saw a single mention of playing Golf on a golf course?

for me this is the key, golf is enjoyable and fun, hitting endless balls on a range isn't golf IMO.

get out on a course a play would be my advice
100% agreed. Surely nobody needs 10 lessons before they've even attempted a course. Learn the basics and then get out there and chop your way around. Golf is played on a course not standing in one place smashing golf balls down a range.
 

Neilds

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You are 53, what you accomplished when you were younger in completely different sports is largely irrelevant when it comes to playing golf. Golf is hard, just look at how Danny Willett faired after winning the Masters - and you expect to be good/consistent in 6 months? Sorry but that ain’t gonna happen
 

Dibby

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Adding to the above, being athletic and having some coordination generally can be helpful when you come into golf, but it is no guarantee that you will be good or better than others. Look at Charles Barkley, clearly someone who was ultra-competitive and athletic when it came to basketball, but it hasn't translated to golf for him, despite having more time and money to dedicate to the sport than most if not all here.

Hopefully, you already know this from other sports, but you have to trust your coach. So either you do, in which case, follow what they are prescribing, if you have courses of lessons I am sure they won't mind a text or email to ask a query, as long as it is not excessive. Also, the next session maybe focus on what to do when it goes off the rails. I had a similar occurrence in my journey and we spent one session focussing on what to do when it goes wrong so that I can self-correct and then go back to what I am working on once I am hitting the ball somewhat out the middle of the clubface.
If you don't trust your coach, time to look around and find a new one, people here can probably recommend if needed.
What I wouldn't do is have a coach and then start randomly following advice from videos, forums, strangers or wherever else.

Out of curiousity, what counts as really good at sports? There are a fair few people on this forum who are (former) national champions and international level athletes at other sports, and not necessarily the best golfers.
 
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