Over the course of my coaching career, I’ve witnessed enough to learn and know that all golfers are different. Whether I witnessed these experiences at my Golf Academy Orlando location, at McLemore, or away from any golf course, it’s obvious all golfers blaze their own individual path to success. But all great golfers do experience similar experiences on the way to success. Here are my 7 common traits of successful golfers.
Why Only 7?
If you were to ask any golf coach how many traits great golfers have in common, there would probably be a list a mile long. My intention of this list and blog post is to simplify the practice process for you and show you that within these 7 common traits of successful golfers, all are easily employable for the average amateur golfer.
Start Small to Figure Out what Works!
All great golfers, as well as all successful men and women, find their success in small victories. These small victories add up to major successes. As golfers, we’re always searching to make improvements to our skills. Doing so in small steps can add up quickly and more sustainably for many reasons.
Our golf skills are based on repetitive movements. And our brains and bodies learn new improved movements by starting out small and slow. Just like a baby crawling to walking. Walking to run.
There’s not only a biophysical reason to start out small. There’s a rational reason to start small. Starting small allows you to figure out what’s going to work for you. By starting out small, you provide your brain body and opportunity to incrementally feel comfortable with skill movement improvements. And identifies what movement improvements best fit you and your body type. As well as your personal strategy for playing golf.
The biggest mistake I see most amateurs make, both on the course and at the practice facility, is thinking and acting too big for their own good. Doing drills that are designed to square the face of the club at full speed. Attempting to hit your tee shots miles past your playing partners. And not realizing these big swings are not producing improvement. And are much riskier than worth the reward.
If you’re an absolute beginner, one of the best ways to learn the game starting out small is learning to putt. And how to putt the ball into the hole more times than not. When you can accomplish this skill, move backwards and learn to chip. And when you learn to chip with some consistency, move backwards and learn how to hit a pitch shot. This is a fantastic small to big model that any absolute beginner can undertake and realize immediate success. While building confidence.
And building confidence is what starting small is all about. If you’re a more accomplished golfer who’s currently experiencing frustration as you attempt to make improvements to your swing, consider small swings versus big wins. Consider small improvements versus major improvements. You’ll surprise yourself if you decide this is the absolute best way to learn a new movement. And in turn improve your golf skills.
Using the small to big strategy to movement improvement is why a lot of golfers consider me as providing the best golf lessons Orlando.
Execute with Experimentation
Many of my clients experiment with their golf games and skills. And they experiment within all aspects of their game. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
But sometimes a client is totally unwilling to experiment. Most often the apprehension is based upon information they digested prior to coaching. And they come to the practice area with preconceived notions of what’s going to work best for them. While lacking the acceptance of what experimentation can provide them.
The evolution of human survival and existence is rooted within experimentation. And sometimes the best intended experiments lead to unpredictable yet positive successes for other reasons. Over the past 20+ years, experimentation has led to the technological advancements you now enjoy as a golfer. So why not experiment with your improvement? Experimentation within a controlled and organized fashion can lead to improvement.
The key to experimenting with your golf improvement is doing so in small chunks. And by experimenting one variation at a time. Mixing several new experiments together can be disastrous. And seriously hinders your improvement journey.
In example is experimenting with one set up alteration to slightly change the carry distance of your shorter pitch shots. Experimenting with one of the 9 setup positions I’ve written about in the past keeps your experimentation organized. As well as providing an environment where it is easy to understand the outcome of the experiment. If you experiment with two or more set up alterations, how do you know which alteration is making the more significant improvement?
One of the biggest mistakes I see most golfers make when it comes to experimentation is not doing enough experimenting. All too often they’ll experiment during a single practice session. Thinking at the end of that practice session, “I’ve got it!” But they can’t be farther from the truth.
Experimentation takes multiple attempts to understand if the experiment creates a similar and consistent outcome each time. And once the experiment does just that, you must be willing to test the experiment under pressure conditions before adapting it to your on-course strategy.
Learn from Mistakes
Arguably, this one trait, learning from mistakes, could be considered the most important of the 7 common traits of successful golfers.
Whether experimenting or not, mistakes are the way of life. And learning from your mistakes is essential to making improvements. All successful people are successful because they are willing to make and learn from their mistakes.
You must recognize sooner than later that you are making a mistake before you can learn and improve. All too often, amateur golfers are ignorant of the mistakes staring them in the face. They judge mistakes solely off how the ball flies. With no clue to the cause of the ball flight.
Most mistakes in golf happen prior to making a golf swing. Either in a decision or a setup position that takes place prior to the actual mistake. Making the decision to play a shot that you’re not capable of is probably the biggest mistake you can make.
But other mistakes staring you in the face include why your ball always comes up short of the green. That’s a decision mistake. Research shows you most likely chose the wrong golf club. Another mistake staring you in the face is failing to recognize you must set up differently when faced with uneven lie. Uneven lies affect your balance. And you must adjust so your body can maintain balance as you swing.
But the biggest mistake most golfers make is trying to repeatedly do the same thing over again expecting a different result. Recognizing you’re making the same mistake earlier in the process provides you with more time to make better decisions. And create a learning environment that may lead to quicker and more improved results.
Learn from Others Who have Learned Before You
The reason why most golfers seek coaching is to learn from someone who’s already made their mistakes. And in most cases, this is the single best way of learning from others. A well experienced coach has experienced quite a few more mistakes than you. And has willingly placed themselves into more adverse conditions. The wealth of knowledge gained from these experiences is worth every penny you pay for with the top ranked golf coach.
But you can learn from others who have learned before you without seeking the guidance of a great coach. One of those ways is playing with golfers who are better than you. And as you play, observing how they go about their business of playing one shot at a time to the best of their ability. What you’ll find is the better golfers not only learn from their mistakes. They ensure they never make the same mistake twice. And you’ll witness this firsthand as they go about their process of learning from their mistakes.
Another way of learning from others is being inquisitive. Asking questions of the golfers you know that play to a level you aspire to obtain. There are no trade secrets to playing good golf. Asking a better golfer about their thought processes and how they navigate a golf course can be of great value to you. So long as you remember what works for one golfer may not work for you. The overall concept of what works for the golfer you’re quizzing is what is most likely what will work for you. But the detailed points of that process will differ. You must recognize how those details differ related to you and your abilities.
All too often a golfer asks me to help them become more consistent. They base that statement solely upon ball flight. But consistency starts long before you ever strike the golf ball. Consistency lies in your ability to organize your time and efforts to become a better golfer. And how you go about your improvement process.
If you cannot organize your time in a consistent manner. And your improvement process is different day-to-day. You’ll never realize consistency in anything you do. Particularly golf.
Consistency starts with planning a regular routine of practice. Will you practice once a week? Once a month? Will your practice sessions be 30-minutes? Two hours? Being able to plan practice sessions consistently is the first step that will lead to more consistent play on the golf course.
Consistency grows from this starting point to include how you organize your practice sessions. Having a plan for every practice session is important. Practicing without a purpose, other than to hit golf balls, is the equivalent of exercise. And a waste of your time and energy. If this is how you currently practice, do yourself a favor. Get a gym membership and work out there. You’ll get better golf results if you do.
An organized practice session is centered around major points of emphasis. Or multiple points segmented into small sessions within the overall practice session. Each point of emphasis is detailed. And each segment of practice focuses upon just one skill improvement.
Consistency is rooted in your ability to stay disciplined to a well-organized practice plan. And a commitment to make practice a priority. Without these two elements in place, you’ll never reach your improvement goals. And you will never be consistent.
Build a Game and Understand You Game Skills
Understanding what you’re capable of doing on the golf course while playing to the strengths of your skill level is how you’ll reduce your scores the quickest. The single biggest mistake amateurs make is trying to pull off shots you’re not capable of. And believing your golf skills are better than they are.
Everybody starts somewhere. And it’s OK to not be very good at what you’re doing. Embarrassing yourself on the golf course has zero to do with your skills. Or your score. It has more to do with not taking ownership of your skills. And your mishandling of the adversity you place yourself in. This is all caused by your lack of taking complete ownership of your all skills. No matter if you’re a beginner or a world ranked golfer, understanding your game and the skills you possess hastens your improvement journey faster than anything else you can attempt.
A great example of this is trying to hit a flop shot over a bunker to a short-sided pin placement. Countless times I’ve seen amateur golfers try to hit the flop shot, as if they’re tour pro. Results will vary. Most often seeing the shot flubbed into the bunker they’re trying to avoid. Or skulling the ball 80-yards past the pin. Does this sound like you? If the same golfer understood they are better at chipping, they could have altered their chip shot set up to traverse the bunker. And at least have their ball on the green with an opportunity to putt their next shot.
The lack of this golfer ‘s ability to own up to the fact he or she has never practiced a flop shot should have led to the decision to not hit the flop shot. Ego got the best of this golfer, and of all of us at times. This golfer’s fact less experimentation was not organized and lead to a costly score.
To help my clients understand their skills and strengths, we spend quite a bit of time on the golf course. Which is why many believe I provide the best golf lesson in Orlando. We do so not necessarily as a playing lesson. But to coach and guide my client through situations. These situations test their strengths. And identify skills we need to add or improve.
On the golf course is where you understand and take ownership of your skills and your game. Not on the practice facility. You improve and build your skills at the practice facility. And gain understanding of the whether a skill is ready to be tested on the golf course.
Failure to take ownership of your current skills will continue to lead you down the road of frustration.
Make it Challenging but Obtainable
All humans love a challenge whether you want to admit to it or not. But a realistic challenge must have an obtainable result for you to continue to be motivated with the challenge. And once the obtainable result is reached, placing a new more challenging task in front of you is vital to your continued improvement and success.
When asking a new client what their ultimate goals are, most realize within their answers that golf is a challenge. But maybe their ultimate goals are a little bit out of reach right now. My job is to help balance their current skills with their ultimate goals. And place realistic challenges, in a reasonable timeline, that provides a pathway to achievement. It’s not enough to do drills. There must be some testable challenges along the way for my clients to understand if they’re ready to take a new skill to the golf course.
The easiest way for you to create obtainable challenges is to organize games or skill tests within your practice sessions. This takes you and your mind out of a mechanical mode. And places you more in a results mode, forcing you to trust the new skills you’re building. Whether at the practice facility with a tool like FlightScope Skills App. Or on the golf course. You can’t obtain a result unless you’re objectively measuring it. And games do just that.
One of the more obvious ways golfers make challenges for themselves is playing from a longer set of tees. In most cases, a tee box that is too long for their skills. As challenging as this may be, the challenge might not present a realistic obtainable goal. Playing a golf course that is ultimately too long for your ability will lead to more frustration, higher scores, and the lack of ability to take ownership of your true skills.
Another way to challenge yourself is to play a course that’s more difficult. Golfers typically do this by traveling to a golf destination to play a top-ranked course, like McLemore. But you can probably accomplish this a little closer to home by understanding the slope rating of the golf courses nearest you. Slope rating is a measurement of the difficulty of the golf course based upon objective criteria. The higher the number, the more difficult the golf course. I do hope you visit me at McLemore this Fall. But chances are you can play a more challenging course closer to home.
Of the 7 common traits of successful golfers, which trait do you identify with most? Are you using that trait to the best of your ability? And how much more can you get out of that trait?
Of the 7 common traits of successful golfers, which ones are you not using, and why? When do you plan to start using those traits? And how will you implement those traits into your existing improvement plan?
These are the simple questions you should be asking yourself after reading this month’s blog post.
I’ve learned a lot in my 35+ years of coaching. These are just a few of the highlights that I see in common with all golfers. As you can see there’s a common theme to all these points. And that common theme is you being willing to push yourself. As well as heighten your learning strategies.
Taking ownership of your skills, your abilities, and your mistakes, is the first order of business to improve your overall golf game. The organization you use off the golf course can be easily applied to your golf skills improvement. And will manifest improvement results faster. Seeking the guidance of golfers more experienced than you can plant improvement seeds within you. Golfers who are better than you at one point in time played the same as you. And seeking the assistance of a well-experienced and qualified coach can assist you with recognizing mistakes you can learn from. As well as assist in better planning and organizing your practice habits.
Why not sit down right now with a piece of paper and pen and write down a few simple things. What are your strengths? What are your organizational skills? Are you using those to plan and execute better practice sessions? Off the golf course, what and how are you consistent within your professional and personal life? And what are the mistakes that you’ve learned from in the past off the golf course that have provided you learning lessons you can take to the golf course?
Learn from these 7 common traits of successful golfers. And implement them all. If you do so correctly, you’ll surprise yourself how efficient and manageable your golf game can become.