Learning and improving golf is never going to be a consistent process compared to working on your aerobic fitness, where you generally see results matching the time and effort you put in.
This is due to the fact that golf is played in a natural environment which isn’t flat or consistent requiring the golfer to constantly improvise and create shots specific to the situation. Therefore, to become a good golfer you need to play a lot of golf so you can encounter as many different playing conditions as possible and learn how to deal with them.
This is one of the reasons why a driving range isn’t the ideal place to learn to play golf, as you are presented with a perfectly flat lie every time which can make it hard to learn to adapt on the course. The key to maximising your enjoyment and progress to learning is understanding your natural competency and being patient enough to build on it gradually rather than rushing ahead and trying to play like a professional straight away. In this article, we are going to discuss what competency is for a golfer and put a process in place for you to follow so you can enjoy the journey of learning and improving at your golf game.
Competency for golf is the ability to hit a ball in the middle of the clubface and move it forward towards the target accurately enough to avoid hazards and keep it in play. An individual’s existing/natural competency refers to how big and fast they can make a swing while still being able to hit the ball in the middle of the clubface with it pointing toward the target. It is also a reference to their ability to control the length and speed of their swing relative to the club they are using.
The best way to explain this is most people with no golfing experience can play mini-golf and hit the ball accurately, controlling the distance the ball goes to get the ball in the hole in 6 shots or less. However, if you put a driver in their hands and asked them to try and swing like Tiger Woods, they would miss the ball or have no control over the distance and direction. That golfer has tried to go well beyond their natural competency which results in frustration and complication due to trying to take quick tips and short cuts. The fact is golf is a simple game that can be played quickly if you have the discipline to gradually build on what you already have naturally.
Even the best players in the world hit bad shots so a general rule is to be competent you need to be able to get a good result 7 out of 10 attempts before you try and swing the club further and faster. For a new or intermediate golfer, that means hitting the ball near enough to the middle of the face so the ball goes in the air and to have the face at impact pointing near enough to the target so the ball stays in play.
This is not to say you can’t have a real go and go well beyond your level to see what happens as long as you understand the best way to improve is to gradually build on and understand your competency. In fact, if you watch tournament golf it quickly becomes evident that all the players have different competencies, it’s how they manage themselves and avoid exposing their weaknesses that make them really good.
Oakleigh workshop for existing golfers
On the Oakleigh course workshop, we score how many shots that are competent. To do this we simply put a tick on the scorecard when we hit a shot that comes out of the clubface well and stays in play, if the shot is a miss-hit or goes out of play, we simply put a cross on the card. We will do this for all shots apart from putting, which we can cover on another day.
At the end of the round we tally up the ticks versus crosses and we can work out a rough percentage of shots we need to improve on. This exercise will give you a benchmark to improve and will also give you a strategy mid-round of having a level of swing that is more reliable to get your round back on track should you not be having your best day.
Let’s have fun and find out a little about your own game today.