3 Reasons Why You Struggle To Take Your Golf Game To The Course

3 Reasons Why You Struggle To Take Your Golf Game To The Course

We all experience it – we strike the golf ball like a tour pro on the range, rush to the tee full of hope and expectations and then…..

Bam! We whack the first ball out of bounds and proceed to hit it like we’ve never played before. 

How can this happen? Why does this happen? Read on, my golfing friends. 


Before We Read On

If you haven’t read my Ebook, “Golf Hacks” – a quick and easy guide to fixing

  • shanks,
  • toes,
  • fats,
  • thins,
  • slices,
  • hooks, as well as
  • practicing better and improving on-course strategy –

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Just pop in your email below, and continue to read this blog. The book will be sent to your email.



Access The Best YOU

This article isn’t about getting better – it’s about something more important.

It’s about bringing out the best YOU

You see, most golfers are actually pretty happy with their best golf. The question is, how do we access our best golf more often? The answer to this is very different to making our best golf better – they often require different strategies.

Think about this – what score could you shoot if you hit YOUR best shots every time? 

Unlocking your best golf

There’s great golf inside all of us – we just have to know how to unlock it more often

In fact, you could get close to the answer by trying out a game of Texas Scramble by yourself. Simply 

  • Go out with 3 or more golf balls (if possible)
  • Hit each one 
  • Select the best result
  • Repeat – hitting 3 (or more) shots from that best location

This shows you what your ultimate potential is, were you able to hit your best shots more often.

So, let’s have a look at some of the ways you can reach your potential.


1. Emotional Control

Nervousness, anger, frustration, fear…..

You can have a great swing mechanically, but then it can fall apart if you are experiencing any (or all) of the above emotions to a high level. 

The reason for this? When our emotions change, we experience an increase in micro-variability (movement variability can increase, even on a subtle level). And, as small changes in the golf swing (1 degrees here, half and inch there) can dramatically affect the outcome, these emotions can wreak havoc on our game.

As I discussed in my article “The Tiny Golf Swing Change That Can Make Or Break Your Game” – small amounts of variability can really cost you in this game. Your swing may even look identical on camera.

Most golfers (and instructors) have always thought that pressure-proofing your game by building better swing mechanics was the way to go. This has an element of truth (better mechanics can have a more consistent outcome for any input variability). However, working on the other side of the coin – improving our emotional control – can also help.



There is certainly no shortcut to improving our ability to control our emotions, but it can be done. As a reformed “club snapper” myself, I can attest to this.

  • Changing how you interpret outcomes through expectation management
  • Improving your overall life philosophy
  • Reminding yourself why you play this game
  • Developing cognitive coping tools (like breathing exercises, or specific routines)

Can all help. I go through many of these ideas in my psychology section of Next Level Golf.


2. Attention Shifts

Locus of attention – a fancy way of saying “swing thoughts”

Imagine this scenario – you are on the range hitting shots. Your mind is fully focused on X swing move.

Then, you step on the first tee, ready yourself, and your mind focuses on the target. 

Bam – a shank.

a golf shank

“Hey Bill, where was your mind focused on that shot?”

“The target

“Where was your mind focused on the range?”

“I was concentrating on face strike location

Do you see the issue?

Movement patterns are highly affected by and connected to thought processes. Similar to Pavlov’s dogs – when a golfer thinks of X, they will get more of X result. When they think of Y, they will get more of Y result.

Many golfers practice thinking of X, and play thinking of Y – and wonder why their game is not the same.


The answer

  • Understand that what you think of can affect your movement and patterns that come out.
  • Understanding what patterns emerge with varying swing thoughts
  • Learning to control your focus of attention
  • Learning how to tune out distractions to that focus

I go through locus of attention as well as how to identify your best swing thoughts for maximizing performance in Next Level Golf. NLG members can access those modules here;

Locus of attention module

Performance training module


3. Training Context

Context refers to how golf-like your practice is. 

But, I’m practicing golf. What could get more golf-like than that?” I hear you say.

Well, in your practice do you have more of the elements on the left or right?

If your answers fell into the right hand column more often, your practice has low-context. 

You may be able to hit the ball like Tiger Woods from a perfectly-manicured lie, raking and hitting the ball with the same club over and over. But that ain’t golf!

I like to balance the amount of repetitions with the context of the rep. For example;

  • Hitting shots on the golf course is the most contextual of all, but you can only have perhaps one quality rep per 5-15 mins (of a given shot type)
  • Hitting balls on the range has a high rep-count (you can hit 6 balls a minute), but each rep has a low context

Bridging this gap is where Transference training comes in – where we play games that (as closely as possible) simulate the demands of the real game of golf.

This could be as simple as picking a target area and trying to get 3 shots in a row (driver, 7 iron, then wedge) in that area. Or it could be much more elaborate and contain all of the contextual factors.

target in golf

Picking a target area, like above, and then playing a game where pressure builds can help a lot in your ability to transfer your game to the course

In next level golf, I include many different training drills and exercises that increase context and balance out the context-rep ratio – as well as helping to improve certain specific issues (such as if you keep missing left/right).


Get Better

I’d love to be able to give all my information away for free, but…

Ah hell, why not.

If you got this far in the article, it’s very likely you are a golfer who is dedicated to improving their game. As your reward, I’m giving away a 2-week FREE trial to my comprehensive program, Next Level Golf.

In it, we look at

  • Impact mechanics
  • Swing mechanics
  • Strategy
  • Motor learning

And more. We also take a dive into psychology and training drills/games/exercises designed to improve everything discussed in this article. CLICK THE IMAGE BELOW to learn more about the free trial


Cliff Notes

  • Increasing your potential is a different animal to reaching your potential and transferring what you have on the range to the golf course.
  • Improve context in your training to improve your on-course transferability.
  • Learning how to control and deal with your emotions is a must – improving your swing is unlikely to be a substitute for this.
  • Learning how your attention affects your outcome, and then learning strategies to utilize this info is key to your success. 


  • Ken Weatherford

    I agree the emotions are the biggest killer of golf shots. When your mind moves away from the last (bad) shot, and focuses on the next one, you can turn a bad round into a fairly good one. My bad rounds always come from a couple of back to back bad holes.

  • Al

    What is your opinion of this advise that is sometimes heard: the vast majority of golfers should make it their goal to play consistently to – *AND PRACTICE TO* – 80% of their potential. The idea here is that 80% of potential is consistently achieveable whereas 100% is not. Once the player is consistently playing to 80% potential, improvement then comes from gradually raising his baseline and NOT from pushing the envelope. This approach would seem to be consistent with the golf maxim that “. . ., it’s how bad your bad shots are.”

  • Peter FW Rosemann

    To play good golf is not only about good contact, good swing or mechanics. It also involves course management, hitting the right shots at the right time, picking the right club for the occasion and more. So many variables during one hole never mind one round. If you hit 10 shots during a round that went exactly as planned you would be similar to a tournament professional. NOBODY hits every shot perfectly. Golf is purely a game of managing mishits. Some have said if you hit a perfectly straight golf shot, it was a mistake because it is the hardest thing to do.
    Your lie always determines the shots available to you which leads to which clubs will allow you to perform those shots.
    Good luck to all…………………………………………………..

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