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Common Golf Mistakes: The Low Hanging Fruit for Better Scores

Common Golf Mistakes

In the average round of golf, I’d guess you hit about 10% of your total shots “great.” Another 30-40% what you would consider good shots, and the rest are considered misses. 

Your golf game is a game full of misses.

The average golfer makes many mistakes, but you can still score well. You don’t need to hit every shot perfect to get the most of your golf swing. 

Some mistakes are too easy to fix that you don’t want to make them again. Continue reading to learn about the most common errors made by golfers and how to quickly fix them.

When you’re done reading and implementing, your bad habits will go away and you will hit the ball much better.

Most Common Mistakes in Golf 

Golf is a complex game because there are so many parts. Golf is not like baseball where you have to hit, catch and throw. There are about 100 other things that you can learn.

You need the right equipment to match your abilities and golf swing to make it all possible. You must also learn how you can hit each of the 14 different clubs. You need to set up routines and practice regularly in a way that helps you improve. 

The final step is to put it all together for 18 hole, which can take up to four hours. You must also learn how to hit it off the tee and into the rough.

There are many things you can do wrong. Keep reading to avoid common mistakes and to improve your score.

Use the Wrong Clubs and Golf Balls

You might be making the game more difficult for yourself before you even get on the course. If you are playing golf clubs that aren’t suited for your game, good luck scoring your best.

This is what golfers do most often.

The first and most common is that beginner golfers think they’re better than they actually are. This can lead to clubs that are too heavy, stiff or unforgiving, making it nearly impossible to hit the ball.

No judgment, I’ve been there myself. Just remember, you aren’t Jack Nicklaus who makes swinging a club way too easy. Join the clubs that will help you improve your game.

The other way is that you might mess this up and still play with older clubs that haven’t advanced as your game has leveled up.

It’s important to know that the right clubs are crucial to your success. While you don’t necessarily have to get fitted for each club in the bag, it can help if you’re committed to improving. 

But please don’t think that a new set of clubs is the key to getting better overnight. While it can help, it’s not a magic fix to shooting the scores of your dreams.

Also, don’t forget to play the right golf ball too. Your swing requires the right compression and characteristics for your golf ball.

Click here to find out more about golf balls.

Not having a pre-round warm up

Once you have the right clubs in the bag, don’t forget about warming up either. Don’t expect an athletic motion on the first hole without warming up.

We all know someone who rushes to the first hole and skips warm-up. While that might work when you’re young and flexible, it’s a terrible long-term strategy.

When you don’t swing and warm up before a round, it’s an easy way to open yourself up to injury. Plus, it’s really tough to score well in the first few holes if you’re not loosened up. You’ll also probably struggle on the greens since you didn’t hit the practice green before the first hole.

Instead, ensure you arrive at least thirty minutes before the start of each round. This leaves you time to check in, hit some balls, and get yourself mentally prepared for the round.

Even if you don’t hit any balls on the driving range, make sure to stretch and take practice swings. It’s better to practice 15-20 swings with a heavier club than nothing.

You also need to feel the speed of the greens. This will help you understand how fast the greens are for chipping and putting. 

Hitting the Balls without a Purpose (No Target). 

I believe the biggest mistake I see 90% of golfers make is hitting the balls on the range. Many beginners golfers (and skilled players) hit ball after ball. Without a target. Or, don’t go through any sort of routine, analyze the shot, or take a break. 

Most golfers hit too many balls to begin. You don’t get any extra credit with the golf Gods for hitting a jumbo bucket instead of a small bucket. While there’s a time and place to hit more balls (like when you’re making a swing change), it’s not every session. 

Instead, ensure that each swing is planned and that you have a clear vision of what you want.Make sure you have a target and align aids for every shot. 

Next, ask yourself these questions before every golf swing:

  • Where is my target?
  • What is my swing thought
  • What is the ideal shot form?
  • How far do you want the ball to go

Finally, look at each shot and reflect on what it was. Before rapid fire hitting the next ball. Ask yourself questions like:

  • How was my contact?
  • Was it a good pace?
  • What did I feel during my swing? 
  • Did the ball strike the right line? 
  • Did the ball go in the right direction? 

For more tips and tricks, see this article.

Avoiding a Pre-Shot Routine 

A pre-shot routine is another common mistake made by amateur players. I think the reason that most people skip this vital step is because they don’t understand the benefits.

These are a few to convince you to do this:

  • Gets you into the zone.
  • Practice swings can help you create a clear picture in your head.
  • This helps you to reduce nerves and keep your eyes on the target. Instead of technical thoughts like “Get more shoulder turn, swing faster, short backswing, lead hand”, etc.)  
  • It’s one of the few things that every PGA Tour player has in common. If it works for them and they’re making millions of dollars to compete, maybe you should too.

Now that you know why a pre shot routine is important, you can start making one. Each player is different – just make sure it helps you feel confident over every shot. Also, don’t make it lengthy and slow down play either. 

Want more help?

Click here for more information about creating a preshot routine. 

Always Use Driver

Many golfers consider the driver to be the most enjoyable club to hit in the bag. But that doesn’t mean you should use it on every par 4 and par 5 on the course.

It is important to assess the driver’s ability to play on each tee. In general, it’s the best club for par 5’s as long as there isn’t a ton of trouble or hazard at your normal distance. 

But par 4’s, it really depends on how you’re swinging that day and if the hole calls for it. For example, if you’re playing a mid-length par 4 and there’s trouble on both sides of the fairway, the driver might not be the strategy. 

If you’re making good contact that day, then go for it. However, if you can’t find a golf swing to save your life, take a 3 wood and give yourself a chance to get on in two (even if the approach is longer). 

The same goes for short par 4’s. A lot of average golfers try to rip a driver, even if they can’t reach the green. Then, they’re left with awkward 50-60 yard shots to tucked pins which isn’t a high percentage play for most golfers. 

Sometimes, it will be easier to score better if you have a shorter club. 

Too many long irons instead of hybrids 

Many players make the common mistake of not playing enough hybrids. Golfers mistakenly believe they can play long, unforgiving irons to impress others.

The truth is that 90% of amateur golfers should own at least one hybrid.

For example, I’m a scratch golfer and carry a hybrid, plus a driving iron style 4-iron. My long game improved instantly after I let go my pride and started playing more forgiving clubs. 

Utility irons and hybrids made it much easier to hit shots at 215-240 yards. I found myself with a lot more eagle looks on par 5’s and more greens in regulation too.

Don’t forget, golf is a game of misses. These clubs make misses much more enjoyable than a long, hard-hitting iron.

Click here for more information about hybrids.

Not Enough Golf Club 

Think about the best golf course you have ever played. If you imagine each hole and where the trouble is, I would guess that 90% of them have trouble in front. 

Rarely are hazards (thick roughs, steep bunkers or water out of bounds, for example) encountered. long. It happens occasionally, but it is rare.  


Because course designers know that so many golfers don’t take enough club. That’s why they strategically place the majority of trouble short of the green. 

Club up to be in higher scoring positions This will make it easier to miss in the best spots and, hopefully, allow you to score more birdies each round. 

Golf Swings: Get the Best

If you’re like most golfers, chances are you’ve battled (or are still battling) the dreaded over the top move. This is a bad habit that can cause weak slices and lead to loss of distance.

To stop being too good at golf, you need to learn how to lower the club. Alongside pre-shot routines, it’s one of the few things that 99% of professionals have in common.

It is easier to compress the ball when you lower the club during transition. This will instantly improve your ball striking. You’ll also find the flight will straighten out and you’ll add more distance to your game.

Click here for more information about shallowing the golf course.

Always aiming at the flag

While rangefinders are great tools to help you navigate each hole of the course, they can also cause chaos.

Here’s what I mean… Most golfers lock in the pin distance and then take dead aim. If you are not hitting the pin for the total distance, then think about a lot more.

Particularly, you should think about:

  • What distance is there from the flag? Unless it’s a pitching wedge or less, going at the flag is usually a bad idea. Instead, take your medicine, and play for the fat portion of the green to avoid short siding. 
  • What is the best spot to go? Remember, golf is a game of misses, so plan for them, especially from longer range. For example, if I have 170+ yards to the green, I’m almost always aiming at the middle green or shaping it toward the flag. That way, if I hit it straight, I’ll miss with plenty of green to work with. 
  • What’s the problem? Make sure you know where a double bogey lurks and avoid it whenever possible. Aim away from the trouble and focus on where you want the ball to go (aka, don’t focus on the trouble Before the shot itself). 

These tips will help to find the dance floor more often, and may even lead to lower scores. 

Neglecting within 100 Yards

Most shots are within 100 yards for most rounds. But, most golfers do not practice from here or use wedges. Instead, most golfers prefer to hit irons, woods and the driving course.

If you want to improve your game, and lower your handicap, focus twice as hard on the short shots. This will increase par saves and birdies, as well as confidence. 

It can also be used to cover bad shots. Plus, it’ll drive your playing partners crazy when you’re the golfer who is all over the place but still making pars. 

A Gap Wedge is not recommended 

Wedges are important. Make sure your bag has the right wedge spacing.

Specifically, make sure you have a GW so you don’t have a 20-30 yard gap from pitching to sand wedge. This will make it easier to hit your approach shots closer and can help with many other shots around green.

A gap wedge can be used to help with long chip shots/bump n-runs, and long bunker shots.

Try to find the right wedges so they’re all spaced equally. This wedge is much more important to the average golfer that a high-lofted, sometimes hard-hit lob wedge. 

Common Golf Mistakes

Use the Wrong Type Of Putter 

Feeling confident and comfortable when you put is everything. It doesn’t matter if you’re old or young, weak, or strong, it’s all about getting the ball in the hole. 

But a lot of golfers don’t use the right type of putter for their specific stroke. The putter can make it harder to get your ball in the hole when this happens. 

For example, if you’re an in to out putter, you should use a blade style. This style of putter will have a good toe hang and allow the face to meet at impact. 

That’s why you should find the right type of putter for your game. 

Click here to find out more about these two types of putters.

Avoid practicing short putts 

If there’s one thing I would hope you take away from this, it’s the importance of short putts. You will score better every round if you are able to hole short putts (3-6 ft).

Here’s what Dr. Bob Rotella said in his book, Putting Out of Your Mind, about why pros work on short putts the most. “Practicing from close range assures them of making most of the putts they try. They also know the importance and importance of short putts. If you’re solid from, say, two to five feet, it makes it so much easier to make your longer putts.” 

The short ones are easy to master, and this confidence can be transferred to other areas of your game. Plus, it ensures you don’t waste any strokes when you’re trying to save par or have a kick in birdie putt.

Dr. Bob also said it. “Good players will tell you that the difference between low round and high ones is usually sinking short birdie putts and getting up and down to save par when they miss greens.” 

You will instantly see a difference in your game if you improve your short putts. 

Forgetting about the Mental Golf Game 

While golf is hard because of all the shots you have to learn to hit, it’s also difficult from the mental side of things too. Even if you have the right clubs, a perfect golf swing, and a solid short game, it’s not always enough.

You must work on your mental side of golf just as much, if not more, than the physical side. Because as I’m sure you know, an average round of golf is an emotional roller coaster.

One good swing can make you think. “Today is the day.” You hit one, and you are trying to save par. That’s just how golf works, so your mind better be ready for the ride.

A good mental game means:

  • Have fun.
  • Avoid negative self-talk.
  • Accepting bad breaks is part and parcel of golf.
  • Always keep an optimistic outlook. 
  • Forgive yourself if you miss a perfect shot.  

There are many more. Click here to learn more about mental tips for golf.

Not Enough Emotional in Every Swing

Golf brings out all kinds emotions, as I said in the previous point. One second you’re happy, smiling, and loving every club in the bag. But a few bad holes later, you’re miserable, want to break every club, and counting down to the 19th hole.

The key is to control your emotions. That doesn’t mean you can’t get mad or frustrated either, it’s about not letting it affect the next shot.

Here’s what Tiger Woods told his son Charlie about getting emotional during a round. 

“Son, I don’t care how mad you get. Your head could blow off for all I care, just as long as you’re 10% percent committed to the next shot. This should be your most important shot. It should be more important than breathing.” 

These are wise words from the man who is arguably the greatest golfer ever. Getting mad, frustrated, and flustered is part of golf, but it’s about not letting it influence your next shot. 

Not tracking your stats

Practice your weaknesses to improve your game. Most golfers prefer to focus on their strengths and avoid their weaknesses. 

The easiest way to learn your weaknesses is to track your stats after each round.

This could be as simple tracking fairway, greens, total putts, or any combination thereof. You could also use an app or stat tracking program to analyze your game in detail.

This is crucial because it allows you to quickly identify your weaknesses. Then, devote 80% of your next practice session to your weak points.

Soon, your weakest parts of the game will be just like the rest.

Playing Hero Golf

You only need 12 pars, seven bogeys, and one stutter to break 80. Or, 11 pars and five bogeys plus a double bogey. 

Think about it, you don’t even need a birdie to shoot in the 70s. Many golfers believe they must hit it 300+ yards to attack every flag. In reality, you don’t. 

Instead, you need to focus on making pars and if a birdie falls in… great. If not, make a par and move on. 

The point is, you don’t need to play “hero golf” and try to attack every shot you face. It may be more fun to aim at the middle of the green than to lay up and aim, but the final score is what really matters.

Expecting too much from your game 

Finally, the last mistake that I can’t forget to mention is expecting too much from your game. I know guys who are 10 handicaps but are disappointed if they don’t break 80 or hit 10 fairways a round. 

It’s like this: The best players in the world hit many bad shots, so why would you expect to hit one of your own? Or, don’t miss a put that is your normal shot.

Golfers, especially good golfers, can be too hard on themselves. Here are some statistics from the PGA Tour to help you keep things in perspective.

  • They average 279 yards of carry and only 59% of fairways are hit on average.
  • They only reach the green 53% of time between 175-200 yards. They can be found on the dance floor an average of 34ft away from the pin, if they do. 
  • PGA players only manage to get the ball up and over the sand 50% of the times. Their distance from the sand to the ball is approximately nine feet 
  • The PGA Tour pros can only move the ball about 60% of the times. 
  • The average PGA Tour player puts in 29 putts per game.

While we see them swinging hard for 340 yard drives, crisp irons, and all the long putts made on TV, don’t forget it’s a highlight reel. It’s like social media, it’s a mirage.

Keep things in perspective so you don’t feel bad for only hitting it 250 or have 30 putts per round. 

Other Course Management & Swing Mistakes

Here are some other easy-to-fix mistakes.

  • Weak grip.
  • Putts that are not under-read.
  • Not picking a target line.
  • Do not shout fore on course.
  • Poor alignment on the range and golf courses
  • All arms, no swinging (not enough shoulder turn).
  • Training aids or technical drills should be done at full speed. You can feel a full shoulder turn and better takeaway with less speed.

Final Thoughts about Swing Mistakes

There are many easy ways to improve your game, as you can see.

The good news is that no matter how good you get, you’ll always want to get better. Golf is a game that never ends. Keep your eyes open and accept the fact that mistakes are part of golf.

These tips should help you make better golf.