I'm not progressing

I understand your frustration. This is a frustrating game, even for those on the pro level. Look at McIlroy at the 2011 Masters. Do you think he intended to pull his tee shot on 10 on the last day of the tournament 100 yards offline? Same thing for Jordan Spieth with his tee shot at 13 at Royal Birkdale in the 2017 British Open. Even the best golfers hit miserable shots at times.

Although nerves and their effect on timing can explain some of this, I believe that misapplication of basic fundamentals is as big, if not a bigger explanation. You mention you’ve only been playing for two years so it is likely that some of those fundamentals are not completely ingrained, despite your lessons and practice. And even if you’re fully aware of the need to follow fundamentals, sometimes a flawed concept of them will undermine you.

One of the reasons I’ve always like Hogan’s Five Fundamentals is the basic checklist he sets out through the book. I suspect some of the specifics of his swing are now out of favor–he favored a tucked in right elbow that is the opposite of the current trends–but his description of a proper grip, setup, posture, and weight distribution are all still valuable ideas that any golfer can apply.

Spend the offseason pairing those ideas with the concept that a well-executed golf swing hardly ever leads to a loss of balance–meaning that a loss of balance generally means a flaw in your swing process or setup–and you can go some ways towards finding and starting to fix your problems so that you’ll be more consistent in 2022.


Just another thought on this… “I’m not progressing” might not be the right way to look at this… “I’m not seeing progress “ might be more accurate.


I think the challenge with golf is you have to commit to certain things, and grind them with no real knowledge of how much they will help… you have to figure out what to work on and how to work on it… improvement on the course takes a long time, so it’s important to find the little things to declare as successes along the way.

I don’t have a great answer on how to do this, but it’s something I think about everyday.


Thanks all you guys!

I just thought with all of the time and effort I put into it, I’d be at least able to crack 100 consistently now, but I’m almost always not able to. Maybe it’s because I’m putting too much pressure on myself also.

I’ll consider getting a net, but like was said, my garage is too low for full swings, even with shorter clubs. My pro has a set of Super Speed sticks that I’ll be able to borrow from him, so that’s on my off season agenda too.


Golf is hard. The truth is hard.

Everyone can’t be good.

Some people are naturally better than others.

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Again, I never expected to be or get good (whatever your definition of “good” is).

I just hoped that after two years of practice and play I’d be able to have any of the following to show for:

keep the ball in play more
have less mishits
drive it to 180m instead of 140
score somewhere in the high 90s instead of 105
see my handicap drop to around 40 instead of 54 where I still sit.


I understand the frustration, but unfortunately 1-2 times a week when you can isn’t that much time… golf is definitely cumulative and the more time you can put in in a week the more it builds on itself (I think!)….

Check out the New Favorite Practice Drill thread and maybe work on some low speed drills at home. It should help continue to build feel for a proper swing.


I was in your position and I know your pain. Back in 2016 when I restarted playing golf in my 40s I thought the more I worked and the more I played the better I’d get. Wrong. My initial handicap was set at 18. I went up to 22 over 2 years. I nearly gave up but kept believing I had the innate ability to get down to single figures.

The turning point for me was learning about the mental game and how the conscious brain interferes with athletic performance. I’m now down to handicap index 16.1.

However I’ve practically talked myself out of being able to hit my hybrids, such is the negative self-talk when I pick one of them up. Fixing that is a good goal for me before spring 2022.


Adding onto this, golf’s an activity where it really is, “three steps forward, two steps (or more) back.” Backsliding is something that just is, for a lot of people. What gets me through it, is remembering what my goals in golf were some time ago, and noting that, as bad as I am this current session, it’s a whole lot better than my ‘good days’ were a year or two ago. Then have faith that the progress you just noted will continue to something better, so long as you put knowledgeable work in.

I see all sorts of swings and results at the public driving ranges I go to. I used to look like a lot of those golfers: awkward, out of balance swings, with balls being shanked, topped, chunked…and I’d only have one or two balls in a bucket that actually looked and felt like the shot in my head. Now, I have more. My standards are higher, too, and just getting the ball up in the air, and roughly downrange, isn’t enough. I still have some of the old mistakes from time to time—don’t get me wrong. Trying a new thing in my swing—currently, it’s trying to take a proper divot—will bring back the frequency of those embarrassing errors. Try to not care about being embarrassed—it’s hard, but realize that no one cares or notices, and those that do, usually have empathy for what you’re going through. (Then there’s US Open practice…) Have faith that your diligence and humble use of good resources will ensure that this course of improvement will work, just like your prior course of golf improvement did.


This too. Adam Young had a great article on how tough golf was, expressed numerically. How much difference an inch here, a degree there, all turns a great flushed shot into barely moving garbage. He then went on to point out all of the different joints and muscles that have to work—in unison!—to ensure a good result. The takeaway was: you can’t possibly keep track of all of this stuff consciously. But your brain can, if you just leave it alone.

Driving a car is a great example. (And one I think Adam actually used.) If you were to try and consciously keep track of all of the things you have to do to drive a car down a city street, in traffic, you’d swerve all over the road, just like a very new driver. Gas pedal, steering wheel, what gear am I in, do I need to shift, here comes the clutch pedal, etc… Then there’s traffic, all of it constantly accelerating and decelerating in relation to you. And it has to be done fast. Somehow, we keep up. May even do a bunch of other tasks at the same time, when we get comfortable with the activity.

Golf has to be the same way.


I lived with a golf pro and was coached to a 12hcp when I was 17/18. Then I stopped playing and restarted 3 years ago when I was 44. My first round back was 151 strokes. It took many months of playing up to 6x a week and practicing to get down to a 32 hcp. Then with a thought of starting the downswing turning the hips not swaying got me down to a hcp of 23 in 2 weeks. There might be just one thing you change to flip the switch and start playing better golf. That change helped me hit longer drives which put more greens in reach, more pars etc. Don’t give up hope.


This is a great thread. I was having this exact same thought yesterday: Am I actually progressing?

I’ve been playing for 27 years, now down to a 3, which is down from 6 a couple years ago. I practice daily on a home sim and get lessons regularly. I am obsessed and objectively getting better at this game over a very long arc of time.

But in the short term - like right now - my game is a hot mess. I’m committed to a (theoretically minor) swing change, that had been going well, but is wreaking havoc on my irons shots right now. I had my worst practice session in ages yesterday, and I managed to fire off my worst two rounds in over three years over the past week.

It’s a horrifically stupid and abusive game. To quote Molly Griswold, “This is without a doubt the stupidest, silliest, most idiotic grotesquery masquerading as a game that has ever been invented.”

And to quote Roy Tin Cup McEvoy, “Yes ma’am, that’s why I love it.”


Wishing you good fortune with the swing work. I completely changed my swing starting in February, I have gained about 20-22% distance from where I was. It’s very difficult. I actually have almost 2 complete different moves, one with the woods and 1 with the irons. It’s close but I notice the difference. I have said this 1000x if only 10x. I was taught a very long time ago. Going from a 20 to about a 7 is pretty EZ with a decent amount of work. After that shaving a stroke is very hard. I was also taught that the difference between a very low hdcp player and a pro is another galaxy. Alot of people disagree, and that’s ok. I mean any of the Ryder 24 or the vice caps, if they played to a -4, they’d want to give up and take up darts at the bar and drink themselves to death. Us ams are just not that good comparing our games. Chasing a number is fun. Chasing improvement is very hard, because as a 3 you’re only talking a titch more consistency probably with a putter or wedge. I truly wish you the same good fortune I had in gaining 40-50yds with my driver.

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That’s awesome re: the driver gains. I am chasing. Chasing what? I don’t know, I just know I want to get better. Strong focus on ball striking right now (driving, iron play) which I figure is the path to long term sustainable gains in handicap. I know I could get some gains with wedge/putter, but I think about that as variance around a ball-striking mean, if that makes sense.

Your comment about the different galaxies reminded me Tom Coyne’s book Paper Tiger. He talks about the ladder of golf. I love his first paragraph, which I’ve just opened up here and copied:

Consider the golf-greatness pyramid’s base, a wide mass of good players, great players, best ball strikers you have ever witnessed firsthand, the only ace you have ever been accidentally, terrifyingly, matched up with – we’ll call him or her The Best Player You Know… A two-, three-handicap – maybe even a scratch player. If you watched them hit balls, you would weep inside.

And here’s the news about The Best Players You Know: They’re shit. Scratch is shit. The Best Players You Know simply cannot play. They are the mere masses, golf’s faceless proletariat, utterly forgettable. They are little more than the wide sprawling base of wannabes on which the pyramid is planted.

And he goes on from there :slight_smile:


David. I have been ripped on here for saying that. I have had the great fortune of playing with several major champions. I do mean playing rounds of golf with them. Unless you actually play golf with them, you don’t understand. Contrary to Adam Young. They are that good. Really good. One of the boys I played with threw a 58 on the board. That’s how good they are just messing around no pressure on your 6200 yd avg track and that was in 1984. My take on real improvement starts with the putter and moving on out. Develop consistency with those scoring clubs, then move to mid and long irons and finally to woods and tee balls. The swing change I actually made was major/minor. I needed to increase my launch angle. I went from like 9-10 degrees to 13-14 degrees. But there was alot involved only working on that for 6 months and 50-100 balls a day. The biggest thing you should chase is fun with your partners, a little walking exercise. Scoring is a result of managing your misses somewhere between 75 to 90 times. Technically, if you hole everything out you only have 18 makes. LOL Here is just a tour caddy, just fooling around.https://www.golfdigest.com/story/jhared-hack-shoots-57-mini-tour-caddie

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I won’t re-litigate the sources of golf improvement here… well-trodden ground around here :innocent:

The rest of Coyne’s ladder is amusing:

  • The Best Players You Know
  • Club Pros
  • Stud Amateurs
  • Attached Club Pro (like a club pro without the responsibility, there so members can hang with them)
  • Mini-Tour Philanthropists (because they donate their entry fee)
  • Mini-Tour Grinder
  • Nationwide Web.com Korn Ferry Earners
  • Six Figure Survivors (the first of the PGA Tour players)
  • The Players
  • The Superstars

He goes on to say:

They should amend those ads on TV - These guys are good. How good? You’ve got no f-ing idea

As impenetrable and unscalable as the pyramid might seem, the reality is that the difference between the apex and the bottom masses is about six, maybe seven, golf shots a round. As vast as the talent gulf may seem, a scorecard doesn’t know anything about the talent pyramid.


I think it’s worth taking a moment to explore this space… I turned 40 today… I’m well past my physical prime. Distance is directly tied to scoring, and I’ve been keeping the same distance, if not improving…

That’s progress against the treadmill of time.

Other areas are more in doubt… my focus is still abysmal and there are areas of golf I can improve on if I can figure out how to practice them… they all
Take time and energy…

I think there is something to be said for treading water in golf, especially with limited time!

That said, I think we can always improve. Pick something tangible and work on it… I’ve seen improvement in my putting, even if it’s only I don’t hate putting anymore.


My story is basically at 22 I took up the game, I sucked. I wanted to get good, I was hooked. Because of a work schedule to make money which was the 6p to 3a shift I volunteered at an African American owned golf club in exchange for lessons after my first 7 that I paid for or so and unlimited privileges. Inside of a about 15 months, I went from a 24hdcp to about a 2. I was like damn I could go pro. Uhhhh NO! I only know 1 guy who did that and that’s Larry Nelson. I was good, I was really good, I made a living hustling, I was making like $400 a week, hustling scat games, another note a week caddying at PVGC. But playing with some of the men I got to play with. No, when they wanted to play especially over the course of 4 or 5 days…it’s a whole different level, you wanna play with those guys, you better get good, you better drop wedges on a dime. I found out I could only drop them on a quarter. Still can, but at my age that’s only good enough to get you at a single digit. So I’m happy with that, I have fun, I play in senior events, and at once a week playing on a course my short game, 40yds on in, not good enough and I don’t have the time to invest yet. Maybe next year…this year was improve launch angle consistently. Same general swing, just slightly different release. Like I said. Biggest thing is have fun


Happy (belated) Birthday, Will!! :partying_face:

Thanks for reminding me that 40 is well past our physical prime :sob:


First off happy birthday, youngster!

Secondly, I think you are spot on in that progress is relative. If you enjoying playing more, than that is probably the most important progress you can make. Ever.


Thanks! Having fun is definitely the most important part…

I’ve just come to believe that progress is more than lowering your handicap… you have to find the small wins in golf and eventually they will add up to big wins.