Is Golf Hard? 7 Contributing Factors (+ What to Do About It)

My non-golfing buddies often joke about our game not being a sport. Their ignorance makes them believe there is no athleticism required, but that could not be further from the ttruth. Golf is hard because it requires a strong mental state, hand-eye coordination, and precise swing mechanics.

All of these factors need to gel for you to produce consistently long and accurate shots. In addition, you should aim correctly and account for the wind to get your golf ball to the target. There is much to think about without inducing anxiety to remain calm during your swing.

 

1. Grip Pressure

Bobby Jones once stated that “…a correct grip is a fundamental necessity in the golf swing. It might even be said to be the first necessity.” It sounds obvious, but it is true. This is something that amateur golfers often forget.

Your grip needs to offer increased control of your golf clubs to generate optimal power on the downswing and a square clubface through impact. These 2 components deliver long, straight shots for optimal distance and accuracy.

You tend to leave the clubface open at contact when your grip is too weak. This prompts a fade or slice. Conversely, a firm grip causes your bottom hand to close the face at impact, creating a hook or draw-shape.

As a baseball grip guy, I can confidently say that the type of grip you employ is irrelevant. Those are your 10 fingers, Varner, and interlock grips. What matters is the strength of your grip and the level of control you enjoy over your club.

Our guide, titled proper golf grip, gives you 8 simple steps to improve your golf club handling. You can read that for a detailed rundown. However, I will provide the top tip below on how to improve in this area.

Tip on How to Overcome This Challenge:

Fewer Knuckles For A Lighter Grip

Golfers consistently hooking their shots should consider loosening their grip to enable them to control the clubface through impact. This is done, by increasing the number of knuckles visible on your left hand, if you are right-handed.

More Knuckles For A Stronger Grip

Conversely, you need to see at least 2 or more knuckles for a firmer grip. This will help you close the clubface to a square position before impact, unlike a weak grip, which limits your control and prompts the clubface to open through impact.

 

2. Ball Position

My playing partner is currently struggling with this issue. At one point in his life, he was a 2-handicap, but an accident destroyed his ambition to be a professional golfer.

Regardless, he puts his ball too far forward for iron and fairway shots and excessively behind his back foot on wedge strikes. This causes him to chunk every shot from the tee box to the green. It is an easy fix, but the man is stubborn and takes advice from nobody.

When he sets up for a long iron or fairway wood shot off the deck, the ball is too far forward in his stance. As a result, his golf club sole strikes the fairway or rough at the swing’s lowest point before catching the top of the golf ball. This leads to a bad shot and a couple of throwing clubs around the golf course.

On the contrary, his back ball position in his short game prompts a steep angle of attack, causing the club to bounce off the turf and into the upper part of the golf ball. Sadly, that is the best-case scenario. Sometimes, the club digs into the soil, and it doesn’t make contact at all.

Tip on How to Overcome This Challenge:

Tee Shots

When your ball is teed up, it should sit parallel to the heel of your front foot. The aim is for your swing’s low point to occur before impact so that your clubface catches the ball on your upswing.

Long Iron, Hybrids and Fairway Woods

Long iron, hybrid, and fairway wood deck shots require the ball to be forward in your stance. But, it should sit approximately 2-inches back from the tee shot position. Your mission is to catch the ball at the low point to compress it to produce high ball flight for maximum carry distance.

Mid Irons

Ideally, you should place the golf ball towards the center of your stance for a mid-irons shot. Like a fairway wood strike off the deck, you must catch the ball at the low point of your golf swing.

Wedges

Wedges contain the shortest shafts in your bag. That means you need to move your ball to the center-back position of your stance to enable you to catch the ball cleanly on your downswing to get it up and spinning.

Putter

The way you set up for putts is dependent on your preference. However, I suggest placing the ball in the center of your stance to simplify the alignment process in the beginning.

 

3. Alignment

Golf is a target sport, and besides worrying about your grip, ball position, and swing mechanics, you have to know how to aim. There are two elements involved here, your feet and clubface. Your clubface should aim at your target while your feet run parallel to that mark.

Alignment is typically the culprit when the average golfer gets everything right in their setup and swing but misses the target.

Tip on How to Overcome This Challenge:

Alignment Aid

We recently compiled a list of the 10 best alignment stick drills you can do. It is a versatile training aid that you can use for multiple facets of your golf game. However, in this instance, you use it to keep your clubface on target.

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SKLZ Golf Alignment Sticks Training Aid with 3 Sticks

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Place an alignment road down, and point to your target. Next, place your ball 2-inches behind the rod, and address the ball. Your clubface aims at the target, and you are ready to strike the golf ball. The more you use this tool, the easier it becomes to achieve a precise aim.

 

4. Swing Mechanics

If you were not convinced that golf is a difficult sport after the first 3 points, prepare to be humbled. You seek to achieve 2 core objectives with your swing. The first is to optimize your clubhead speed to impart on the ball at impact, leading to maximum distance in your long game.

Secondly, your job is to get the clubface square at impact. And none of this is possible if you do not produce ample hip and shoulder rotation. That reduces your power and restricts your ability to get the clubface into the desired position for impact.

You can achieve an accurate long shot whenever you combine optimal rotation with a smooth rhythm and tempo. The orchestra of muscles activating and bones rotating accelerates your swing speed and prompts you to square your clubface through impact.

If your tempo and rhythm are off, you can produce catastrophic results, such as sending your ball out of bounds.

Besides tempo and rhythm, you need to focus on your swing path. If you swing along an outside line on your backswing, you generally swing inside on the way through. This line prompts fade or slice sidespin and causes your clubface to remain open at contact.

Conversely, an inside-out golf swing encourages a closed clubface through impact and creates draw or hook sidespin.

Tip on How to Overcome This Challenge:

Short and Slow

I resort to short and slow whenever my swing mechanics are a mess. That means I shorten my backswing, between ½ and ¾ length, and slow my clubhead speed down. Sure I lose a couple of yards with each club, but it improves the consistency of my fairways in regulation record.

 

5. Suitable Equipment

Winston Churchill famously quipped, “golf is a game whose aim is to hit a very small ball into an even smaller hole, with weapons singularly ill-designed for the purpose.” Fortunately, the equipment has advanced significantly since the late Prime Minister navigated the links.

ESPN ranks golf as the 51st hardest sport, which I utterly disagree with. But, personal opinions aside, the game is impossible when using inappropriate equipment.

If your clubs possess lofts that are too strong for your swing speed or shafts that are too stiff, you are on a hiding to nothing. These clubs will promote a low-flying golf ball, which costs you carry distance.

Conversely, weak lofted clubs with flexible shafts are a nightmare for faster swingers. This construction can cause you to generate excess backspin and sky your shots. As a result, you have less forward momentum, flight, and total distance.

Do not purchase clubs for the sake of it. Ensure that they match your needs and will help you card fewer bogeys and the odd birdie.

Tip on How to Overcome This Challenge:

Get Fitted

Golfers unsure of their idea specifications should consider getting fitted for the correct clubs. This helps you understand what works for you and why making it easier to find your equipment in the future.

 

6. Course Management

An area where most casual golfers fail is course management. As Kenny Rogers said, “you gotta know when to hold em, know when to fold em, know when to walk away, and know when to run.” The same rings true on the golf course.

Be smart and pick your battles. In the event that the hole is tight and leaves no margin for error, you should play it safe. On these holes, you know to hit a long iron from the tees instead of a driver. In addition, you cannot attack every par 5 green in 2. Sometimes, you should lay up to avoid the sand or a water hazard.

Furthermore, play for position on doglegs. Pick the side of the fairway that gives you the clearest line to your target. A simple slip up to the wrong side of the fairway can rule out a green in regulation.

Finally, if your options are limited, do not try and pull off a miracle shot. Simply execute a routing chip shot to get back onto the short grass.

Tip on How to Overcome This Challenge:

Use Common Sense

Play smart, and pick the right moment to attack the flag. In addition, play to the safest side of the fairway to set yourself up for an easy approach shot. Be patient and earn the right to card a birdie. When the shot is not on, do not go for it and ruin your round of golf.

 

7. No Golf Lessons

Far too many casual golfers have never had a golf lesson and complain that they struggle to play the game. PGA tour players work consistently with their coaches to master every aspect of their game, from drives to bunker shots and putts.

An instructor sets you on the straight and narrow by correcting the basics in your game. They teach you the fundamentals to victoriously navigate from the tee box to the green. Without lessons, you traverse the grassy terrain of a golf course ill-equipped with the knowledge to successfully play golf.

Only if your finances permit and you are serious about improving your swing, book a weekly lesson with your instructor. This ensures continuity to consistently reduce your net score. Those without the budget should book at least 5-lessons in to cover the basics.

Tip on How to Overcome This Challenge:

Take Lessons

The solution to this problem is simple. Call up your local teaching professional and book a lesson with them. This may be a costly endeavor, but it is an investment in your golf game and will pay off as you shed strokes from your game. If your budget is tight, start saving up and follow our in-depth tips and drills to lower your handicap.

 

Related Reading: If you are reading this, you are likely questioning your motivation for taking up the game. Relax, and read our steps to help you avoid asking questions such as why I suck at golf.

 

Matt Stevens

Matt Callcott-Stevens started playing golf at the age of 4 when Rory Sabattini's father put a 7-iron and putter in his hand. He has experienced all the highs and lows the game can throw at you and has now settled down as a professional golf writer. He holds a Postgraduate in Sports Marketing and has played golf for 28 years.