This article originally appeared in Inside Golf where Michael Green writes a monthly column.
Few sports offer the same tantalising glimpses of brilliance that golf does to the amateur player. We play under the same rules as the professionals, use the same clubs, play the same courses, use the same balls, wear the same clothes and once in a while we get to play the same shots.
The difference is that we may only experience these moments of brilliance a handful of times per round whereas your average tour player makes it happen 60 or 70 times.
But it’s enough to keep us coming back and the pull is strong enough to make us believe that given enough time to work on our game, we too would be a professional golfer.
And it’s not the only golf delusion we submit to so easily.
The flatstick fantasy
In my opinion, the biggest delusion in the world of amateur golf is the one where golfers think they can shoot good scores without practising their putting. A couple of hours on the range after work is to be admired but to neglect the flatstick is to neglect a huge part of the game. By all means hit hundreds of balls at the range, but don’t go all Bruce Banner when you start racking up those nasty three-putts.
The distance delusion
Few things are overestimated as much by the weekend golfer as how far he or she can hit the golf ball. It’s a common mistake to see a golfer not use enough club to get to the green in either an act of bravado or assuming the best shot they hit on the range on Friday night will go the same distance as this shot of the rough.
A lesson will fix it
Just like a session at the physio, a golf lesson will only result in long term success if you put the time into practising what you’ve been told. Undoing bad habits such as slouching in front of the computer or swinging ‘outside-in’ is not an easy thing to fix quickly. Get a lesson, heed the advice and then go and practice.
Fashion and equipment
While I’m all for the crazy clothes and unmatched styles in the fairways, there are a large number of golfers who upon dressing like the professionals, assume their golf game will follow suit. The same goes for golf clubs. Those new sweet and shiny drivers can still slice the ball as good as your old one.
From the carpark to the first tee
I’m as guilty as the next golfer at believing this delusion. The chances of playing a good round of golf if you arrive at the golf course and head straight to the first tee are slim. Sure, the odd good round will appear from time to time but if it’s consistency you’re looking for, you may find it in the number of times you hit shots from the adjoining fairway.
Played well, but didn’t score well
Not even the professionals are immune to this one. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard something along the lines of “I hit the ball really well, but just didn’t score very well”. Scoring is the game of golf. In fact, it’s the ultimate measure of your golf game.
The magic tip
You’re on the couch flicking through the latest issue of your favourite golf magazine when you stumble upon a swing tip that you’re certain will solve all of those driving, chipping and putting problems you had on course yesterday. Yes, that’s the one. That’s the one that will turn your ungainly looking golf swing into a thing of beauty and turn yesterday’s 24 points into 42 points next week. If only it were that simple.
You’re off a handicap of 10, you should shoot 10-over par
It’s not just the non-golfers who think this is the case, we’re all guilty of this one. The handicap is a measure of your potential not your most common score. But it’s dream inducing all the same. None of us believe our current handicap will be as low as is as low as we go. We’ve seen the potential first-hand and we know we’re better than this.
The yips will go away
To be fair this was suggested to me by a few golfing buddies who’ve suffered more than their fair share of the dreaded yips over the years. As harsh as it sounds, this is mostly true as very few golfers have overcome the yips. If you need inspiration though, look to Bernard Langer. The German has won over 40 golf tournaments since suffering from the yips.
Perhaps they’re not delusions after all.