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Five Ways to Stop Playing Like an Amateur

Dec 11, 2014 6:30 PM
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Many amateur golfers think that there is some kind of trick - or magic - to being a professional golfer. They can’t imagine shooting the scores that the pros shoot, so they build up this idea in their head that the pros are doing something they as amateurs aren’t even capable of.

That isn’t true at all.

In reality, most professional golfers are simply highly proficient at what they do, capable of repeating good shots over and over again. Sure, they can hit the ball good distances and generate backspin, but the consistency of their performance is really what leads to the good scores.

If there is any ‘magic’ involved, it comes in the form of something so simple that most amateur golfers ignore it completely - decision making. Simply put, pros make better decisions than amateurs. When you are playing for your paycheck each week, there is no room for error due to poor choices. The game is hard enough - making bad decisions can make it impossible. While professional golfers generally hit better shots than amateurs do, the real difference between the two is the decisions they make from the first tee to the last green.

Following are five ways you can quickly stop making amateur decisions and start thinking like a pro.

  1. Don’t reach for your driver all day. There are great times to hit your driver, and times where you should opt for a fairway metal or long iron. Pro golfers understand that the game is about position, not distance. Placing your ball in a safe position to play an approach shot into the green is far more important than raw distance off the tee.

  2. Stay under the hole. Whenever possible, you want to be playing uphill. Why? You have more control over the golf ball when playing uphill, especially on short shots. As you pick targets throughout the round, keep in mind the desire to position the ball below the hole.

  3. Avoid a repeat shot. A repeat shot is when you have to try the same shot twice in a row - such as leaving your ball in a bunker after hitting a sand shot that doesn’t get out of the trap. These are strokes that you can’t get back, so make sure to do everything you can to avoid having to hit the same shot twice in a row.

  4. Play more break. There is a reason the low side of the hole is called the ‘amateur side’. Most amateurs don’t play enough break on their putts, and they watch them miss on the low side time after time all day long. When reading your putts, add a couple inches to the line you think is right - and you will be amazed at the results.

  5. Don’t get ahead of yourself. Thinking about shots that are still to come on the course is a great way to make bad decisions on the shot you are currently playing. Staying in the moment is vitally important on the golf course, so focus all of your mental energy on the shot that is currently in front of you.

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