How to have more fun golfing

by Andy Griffiths on May 6, 2013

I’ve just moved jobs. I’ve gone to a fantastic new place, with a huge number of golfers of all ages and abilities. This has given me time to question why I do what I do. I feel very fortunate to be in a ‘job’ that I honestly love. The truth is that I teach golf and build connections with my players because I truly believe the game of golf can teach us so much. To share this gift, and do my part in improving people’s game, thus increasing their enjoyment and having a positive impact on their outlook on life is my way of giving back.

With that in mind, this article is going to be about how you, the golfer, can have some more fun out on the links. After all, if you really thought about it, isn’t that why you play the game? To have fun? To enjoy being outside with good company?

Just this week I taught a member who was considering leaving the game after a run of terrible rounds. Of course, as a golf professional and coach, my advice would be to get alongside your golf professional who can work with you to help you reach your goals but this article will give you more ways too!

Play an appropriate length course

If you look at the average driving distances for tour professionals (compared to the length of course they play) and then compare that with your distances you may realise how difficult reaching your goals are! Chances are the tees on the course you play are disproportionately long for the driving distance you have. If just playing with some friends, try this one out: play from a forward set of tees, maybe even from the very forward tees and enjoy the feeling of driving up close to the green of a par 4 or marking a birdie down on your card. It is fun hitting more greens in regulation too! After working with a lot of juniors this summer with Nike Junior Camps in Pebble Beach I know how resistant they were to trying! When this was tried out though, the levels of fun shot up massively. Give it a go; it is also a fantastic way to build confidence and your comfort shooting lower scores.

Play some different formats (http://www.golfcoursegurus.com/tournament)

This link gives a whole heap of alternatives to typical stroke play, which can be a lot of fun to try. Rather than stroke play where each mistake is seen and attention drawn to it, have fun with a ‘skins game’ or ‘stableford’ round where you can move on quickly and not let a bad hole get you riled up. Away from the ‘mistake avoidance’ environment that strokeplay often induces, youwill have more opportunity to learn and discover new things whilst trialling other formats. If you are playing with a group of friends, but not in a monthly medal, why not go out and try a Texas scramble competition. Or in a pair, allow yourself to play the hole, alternate shots, from the position of your best drive or, if you really want a challenge, from the worst ball! From personal experience, I can say that playing golf with friends who play much less than me, but within a fun format, can greatly increase enjoyment for all of you. If you find this one tough to do, perhaps start tracking a few stats and see how your improvements go. A few examples that will leave you focused on the positives rather than your score could be: number of solid drives hit/crisp irons hit/birdies or pars made.

Lose the scorecard

Jordan already wrote about why keeping score in golf is overrated. Not keeping score isn’t for everyone but if you want to have fun, try it out.

Every golfer is different, and there are many way to enjoy this great game. But, as a challenge, in the next round that you play just ‘forget’ to pick up a scorecard and play a round without keeping track of how many strokes you have had. Less focus on your score frees you up to really enjoy the company, the surroundings and much more. As crazy as this idea sounds, give it a go. See what happens. You may even notice your level of play greatly improve!

Go play a different course

I’ve been fortunate enough to play a few courses that hold top professional events, and it is a great feeling to go out there, on holes you may recognise from TV, and see how you fare. This season, go try a few different courses and make a day of it.  I can’t imagine you won’t enjoy it!

Practice with games

Once again Jordan already discussed why competitive practice with a friend can be helpful. But I want to talk more about that.

Rather than just treating some putting practice as something boring that you need to do to lower your score…bring a friend along and play some games at the same time. Sudden death ‘holing out’ competitions starting from near to the hole and getting further away are sure to get interesting when the loser is paying for food in the clubhouse afterwards! On the driving range, experiment with different heights and curves of golf shots. Imagine golf holes out on the range that you hit towards, or create nearest the pin competitions. I imagine your ‘practice’ will suddenly become more interesting.

For those of you who don’t want to throw away the scorecard, move away from your current golf course and the ‘back tees’ or deviate from playing stroke play…I have one  final idea that may help:

You know that strange phenomenon where you have 9 great holes and then 9 terrible holes? Or you start awful only to finish it off with a great back 9 and end up finishing somewhere near your handicap? My suggestion is this; next time you go to play, split your scorecard into 6 ‘rounds’ of 3 holes instead of 1 round of 18 or 2 halves of 9 each. This simple change in mindset often allows you to let go of previous bad holes a lot more easily than having to wait till the ‘back 9’ for a new start . It also helps you stay in the present, not getting nervous/excited/ahead of yourself when on for a career best round after 12 holes…before it all falls apart.

I hope to hear from you soon, and that you have some more fun out on the course! I imagine you have even more ideas too; please feel free to leave them in the comments below. Remember as a great coaching friend of mine, Sara, says: #golfisfun

Andy Griffiths

I am a UKPGA member and graduate of the AGMS degree at the University of Birmingham. I have coached in more than 30 countries and traveled and worked with many of the best in the business to constantly improve my coaching. My No. 1 desire is to help golfers reach their dreams, and to enjoy the process!

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