Is Golf Hard To Play? Here’s Why It is Tricky & 6 Tips To Progress Quickly

Is golf hard to play? The answer is “Yes”, but why is golf so hard?

Golf doesn’t require extreme physical training. You can play from the age of 5 to 105. You don’t have to be overly strong or fast to play.

So, why is golf hard? The ball isn’t moving and no one is chasing you on the course trying to take the ball from you.

Part of the problem is that being a great athlete doesn’t necessarily help you master the game. NBA hall of Famer Charles Barkley is notoriously bad at golf.

The Golf Channel even made a show with a famous golf coach (Hank Haney) trying to help Barkley improve and the results were surprising. He did not get much better.

Below we explore this question (why is golf hard) and share 6 tips to help you improve quickly.

There are no shortcuts in golf, but there are ways to consistently get better over time. Let’s get started!

is gofl hard to play. A golfer celebrates against a sunset

Why Is Golf Hard? The Top 3 Reasons

Unlike other sports, there are no “naturals” in golf. No one plays for the first time and breaks 80. It simply doesn’t happen.

You might find someone that can strike the golf ball solidly, but they won’t know how to score. They will lose strokes around the green.

This highlights the first reason:

Why Is Golf hard? Reason #1: You Must Master Multiple Skills

To play golf well you must master several different skills – each one requiring different technique and execution.

A golfer makes a shot down the fairway.

A professional golfer or a scratch player can do all of these things well:

  • Full Swing – hit full golf shots with a driver, fairway woods, and irons
  • Short Game – the ability to hit various chip shots around the green and from sand traps
  • Puttingread the break of the green, roll the ball smoothly and on line
  • Advanced Shots – draw or fade the ball on purpose, punch shots, fairways bunkers, etc.

You don’t have to be great at all of these skills to enjoy golf, but you do need to know how to handle situations you encounter on the golf course.

Gaps in your game will cause your score to balloon and your golf handicap to remain high.

The diversity of skills required to play a round of golf is the first reason why golf is hard.

A golfer celebrates a good shot with his club in his hand.

Why Is Golf Hard? Reason #2: You Must Invest Time In Practicing

Quite simply, you can’t develop the skills listed above without investing time in your game. You must practice if you want to improve.

It can be hard to find the time. We are all busy with work and family activities.

The lack of time to practice is why many amateur golfers don’t get better. The definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

If you play twice a month and never practice your scores will stay the same. You must invest time if you want to improve.

A young golfer smiles with his golf bag on his back on the putting green.

Why Is Golf Hard? Reason #3: The Game Can Be Very Frustrating

We know this might sound strange, but getting frustrated with the game is why many golfers stop playing or “take a break”.

You can play great for 3 hours and then a couple of bad shots can ruin your round. One bad swing and your ball can fly out of bounds.

In an instant, your score can fall apart.

One of our favorite quotes comes from Mike Greenberg, “golf is a game of endless failure and frustration…..and I love it”.

Being able to embrace the struggle, grind through frustration, and deal with adversity is more important in golf than in other sports.

A golfer is frustrated next to a sand bunker.

Why Is Golf Hard? 6 Tips To Progress Quickly

We don’t want you to give up on the game. Just because golf is hard, doesn’t mean you can’t improve. We want to help you progress quickly.

#1: Seek Professional Help

We don’t think you need a weekly golf lesson, but your golf game must be built on a strong foundation of fundamentals.

You can find a local teaching pro or simply invite an experienced golfer with you to the driving range.

Ask them to check your golf fundamentals. How does your grip look? Is your setup square to your target?

Make sure they check your posture (spine angle) and review your weight shift during your swing.

You don’t want to waste time practicing bad fundamentals and teaching yourself poor muscle memory.

The answer to “is golf hard?” is “Yes”. Don’t make it even harder because your fundamentals are flawed.

The first step towards playing better golf is asking for help!

Four golfers stand together on a fairway.

#2: Build A Balanced Practice Plan

Why is golf hard for the weekend warrior? They don’t invest time in their game.

It is quite simple – if you want to improve quickly, you will need to spend time practicing. Remember, it is about quality, not quantity.

There are two key things to keep in mind when you practice. First, simulate how you would play on the golf course.

This means when you hit range balls you need to pick a target and follow your normal pre-shot routine.

Simply smacking golf balls is not going to help you improve. Take your time at the driving range. You don’t get your money back if you finish your bucket first.

Second, you need to practice all parts of your game. We like the 50/50 rule. Make sure you spend half of your time on your short game.

Chipping and Putting are where you can save strokes on a bad day. Show us a great short game and we will show you an above-average golfer.

four golfers celebrate a good shot.

#3: Learn Course Management

Why is golf hard for most beginners? They don’t know how to play the course – they don’t have an understanding of course management.

When should you hit the driver versus a 3-wood or long iron? When should you try to clear the lake versus laying up?

Hitting the “right shot” at the “right time” is just as important as making a solid golf swing.

This is a skill in and of itself – it’s why even the pros have a caddy out with them during tournaments to help them figure out the most optimum route.

Golfers lose more strokes due to bad decisions than bad swings. Learn to think your way around the golf course and your golf handicap will start to drop.

three golfers walk down the fairway with their golf bags.

#4: Set Goals & Celebrate

Why is golf hard for people that great at other sports? They are used to success, used to winning, and used to reaching their goals.

It is important to have golf goals and they shouldn’t all be about your 18-hole score. It is great to have a goal to break 100, but that doesn’t need to be the only one.

Play a round without a 3-putt. Finish 18 holes without a score worse than double bogey. Try to make 2 birdies in a single round.

These are all great goals and when you achieve one, you need to celebrate. Have a drink in the 19th hole or buy yourself a new golf shirt from the pro shop.

Learning to play golf can be a grind. When you get the chance to celebrate, take it!

Four golfers celebrate on the putting green.

#5: It’s Better With Friends

Why is golf hard for players learning the game? It can be lonely. Just because it is an individual sport doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it with friends.

If you are just starting golf, find another player who is learning and attack the journey together. Practice together and play together.

You can motivate each other to grind through a practice session and to stick with it after a bad round.

You can share a round of drinks and discuss what went right and what went wrong on the course.

Before you know it, you can play in tournaments together. Sign-up for a 4-ball event or a captain’s choice.

The challenge of golf will be easier if you tackle it together!

A number of golfers on the fairway.

#6: Don’t Take It Too Seriously

Why is golf hard for the intense player? It is never going to be perfect. Even the best players in the world hit bad shots.

Learn to laugh at your poor swings and you will enjoy your time on the course.

Let’s put it this way. If you come home from a round with one less club than you started because you snapped it in half and tossed it in the lake. You need to relax!

Life is too short to let a little white ball cause you anger. Enjoy your time outside and remember – golf is just a game!

If You Think Playing Golf Is Hard, Try Playing it at night!

Photo of author
Ray has been playing golf for 35+ years, including being part of his High School and College golf teams. While he still enjoys playing in amateur tournaments, Ray now focuses on growing the game of golf through teaching and coaching. He has two sons that both play golf competitively and loves spending time watching them compete. Ray continues to play in local amateur golf events and currently has a +2 handicap.

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