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Most Common Mistakes Amateur Golfers Make (and how to fix them)

Amateur golfers are prone to making a variety of mistakes that lead to frustration and high scores. From poor setup alignment to flawed swing mechanics, inconsistency to short game errors, most amateurs struggle with aspects of the full swing and short game.

However, through awareness, practice, lessons, and effective training aids, amateurs can correct these common mistakes. Evaluating grip, posture, ball position and more allows golfers to engrain proper fundamentals.

Smoothing out improper swing motions, developing repeatability, and sharpening chips, pitches and putts will lead to better shots and lower scores. With discipline and persistence, amateur golfers can eliminate their most costly mistakes.

The Joys and Frustrations of Golf for Amateurs

Golf is a game that brings both immense joy and deep frustration to those who play it. For many amateur golfers, the appeal of the sport is the ability to spend a relaxing day outside, surrounded by the manicured beauty of the golf course. Getting together with friends or family for a round of golf is a great way to catch up and enjoy friendly competition. Golf also provides a mental challenge as amateur players try to master the intricacies of the swing required to hit the ball well. There is no greater satisfaction in golf than finally connecting the clubface to the ball perfectly and watching your shot fly straight and true all the way to the target.

However, golf also presents immense frustration for amateur players. Golf requires complicated motor skills to consistently strike the ball well. It takes time and practice to ingrain a good golf swing. Even seasoned amateurs struggle with the sporadic nature of golf performance. One day your golf swing produces beautiful shots, and the next day it fails you miserably. Amateurs can be incredibly hard on themselves when they hit poor shots and make mistakes. The mental challenge of keeping composure and optimism during a round is often as difficult as swinging the club for amateurs. Mastering golf requires enduring these ongoing frustrations and learning from mistakes. Has an amateur ever won a major golf tournament?

The Golf Release Is Not the Same as the Baseball Release

You are a candidate for a slice if you played baseball before picking up a golf club. I’d say four out of every five baseball players are golf ball slicers. Good baseball hitters are usually very good at making solid contact with the teed up in the air golf ball, but the ball will end up in foul territory as it curves offline. The solution is to work with your golf coach to understand the path and clubface relationship that determines a golf ball’s curvature. Remember that a hit over the first baseman’s head may be cause for celebration in baseball, but it is usually cause for a provisional ball to be played in golf.

Learn the Fundamentals of Getting the Golf Ball in the Air

The most common error made by amateur golfers is attempting to assist the ball into the air. It makes sense to the novice golfer because the goal is to get the ball off the ground and moving towards the intended target. Expert golfers never try to add height to their standard shot trajectory. Why? Because of the fear of appearing to be a high handicap amateur golfer. A skilled golfer understands that if the ball is sitting down in the grass, striking the ball first and then the ground is the best way to get the ball airborne. The loft of the club, not the golfer’s attempt to scoop the ball from the ground, propels the ball into the air. Ball first, then ground, ball first, then ground—something I will say for the rest of my coaching career. First, the ball, then the ground.

The Most Common Mistakes Amateur Golfers Make

Amateur golfers are notorious for both physical and mental mistakes that harm their scoring ability. Being an amateur golfer is extremely difficult, and all amateurs will struggle with parts of the game throughout their golfing lives. However, some mistakes prove much more costly than others. Below are some of the most common fundamental errors amateur golfers make.

It is also NOT the Putter.

Looking for the next putter to help you make those three-footers is usually a short-term success. Invest in a custom-made putter and stick together through thick and thin. I understand that divorce may be the best option in some cases. However, divorce is expensive, so practice your putting before purchasing another expensive putter that will not improve your putts per round.

Too Much Loft Chipping

Please put down your lob wedge or sand wedge. The best in the world practice constantly. They can do it, but you should chip with less lofted clubs. If the turf is firm and mowed to fairway height, I would prefer to see amateurs putt as much as possible. Chunked chip shots are inconvenient for everyone!

A single golf lesson will not Answer.

If you are unhappy with your golf performance and are considering professional assistance, don’t think that one lesson will suffice. If you decide to seek assistance from a local golf coach, plan on taking at least six to ten lessons. Taking a lesson once a week for six weeks should get you on the right track. I prefer coaches who charge a monthly fee for a set number of contact hours over individual lessons. When looking for area golf coaches, coaches who offer supervised practice sessions with their students should be at the top of your list.

 You DO NOT Raise Your Head.

This never occurs. Lift your head if you sit in a chair with good posture. So, what happens? Nothing is the solution. The neck muscles allow you to rotate your head, but you cannot lift it higher than the starting point. What influences head movement, however, is the player’s body mechanics. A golfer’s spine angle is controlled by poor lower body movement. Because the head sits on top of the spine, if the head moves visibly during the swing, the solution is to never keep the head down. It could be a combination of lower body corrections and proper spine stability while swinging.

Poor Setup and Alignment

One of the biggest mistakes comes before the club is even swung – poor setup and alignment. The setup establishes your posture and base, while alignment aims your shot. Even slight deviations here make it nearly impossible to strike the ball correctly and control direction. Common setup and alignment mistakes include:

  • Improper Stance Width – Stance too narrow or too wide affects balance and swing path.
  • Faulty Posture – Slouching, improper knee flex and more impact ball striking.
  • Inconsistent Alignment – Not lining hips, feet and clubface up properly to target.

Flawed Swing Mechanics

During the swing sequence itself, amateurs often make mechanical mistakes that ruin the shot. These swing errors impart incorrect forces on the ball, robbing shots of distance and accuracy:

  • Over the Top Move – When the downswing gets too steep and comes outside.
  • Flying Elbows – Losing connection leads to breakdowns and inconsistent contact.
  • Swaying Hips – Allowing hips to sway disrupts spinal angle and impact factors.
  • Casting Early – Releasing the club too soon causes loss of control and power.
  • Chicken Wing Follow Through – Improper arm position and disconnect through impact.

Lack of Consistency

While amateur golfers expect some great shots and some poor ones, struggle with consistent ball striking from session to session. This lack of repeatable consistency stems from:

  • Inconsistent Grip – Differences in pressure, placement and posture of the grip.
  • Varying Ball Position – Effective ball position changes with each club.
  • Unreliable Swing Path – Struggling to groove the proper club path for solid contact.

Short Game Deficiencies

While the long game may get most of the glory, amateur golfers often shoot themselves in the foot around and on the greens. Short-game mistakes include:

  • Weak Putting Stroke – Failing to impart proper speed and line on putts.
  • Overly Aggressive Chip Shots – Chasing every pin instead of consistently getting close.
  • Lack of Touch around Greens – Struggling with short finesse shots from tricky lies.

How to Fix the Most Common Mistakes In Golf?

Now that we have covered the major errors plaguing amateur golfers, let’s discuss ways to fix them. With proper instruction, practice, and course management, amateurs can correct their big mistakes.

Evaluating and Adjusting Your Setup

Much of sound golf begins with proper setup over each shot. Take time to evaluate important aspects of your posture, grip, alignment and ball position. Use checks like:

  • Check Stance Width and Posture – Align feet under shoulders and flex knees and hips properly.
  • Use Alignment Rods – Rods make it simple to align your feet, hips, and clubface correctly.

Smoothing Out Your Swing

Flaws in the swing itself come down to improper sequence, motions and disconnected elements. Smooth out your swing:

  • Stay Connected and On Plane – Keep arms, shoulders and club working together on the proper path.
  • Keep Elbows Closer to Body – Eliminating flying elbows keeps the swing compact.
  • Maintain Spine Angle – Limit swaying and maintain appropriate spine tilt and flex.
  • Release Club Naturally – Allow the club to release fully through impact rather than casting early.

Developing Repeatability

Work on repeating your proper setup, swing motions and impact factors. Seek consistency through:

  • Perfect Your Grip Pressure – Gripping too tight or loose contributes to inconsistency.
  • Dial in Ball Position – Learn ideal ball position for each club you hit.
  • Groove a Consistent Swing Path – Use swing aids and drills to stay on the correct path for solid ball striking.

Improving Your Short Game

Success for amateurs depends heavily on improving shots from 100 yards in and on the putting green.

  • Perform Putting Drills – Rolling ball towards hole or gates trains proper technique.
  • Learn Finesse Chipping Methods – Using putting or hinge and hold chips based on distance factors.
  • Master Touch Shots from Fringe – Practicing short swings and landing trajectory for trouble lies.

Conquering Common Mistakes Through Practice and Lessons

While some common mistakes in golf may seem straightforward, it takes a committed effort to enact lasting changes. Use repetitive practice sessions focused on weak areas in your game. Always be open to professional instruction that can detect flaws in your swing, setup and mechanics. The guidance of a pro helps amateurs shorten the learning curve on proper technique.

The Rewards of Persistence and Dedication to Improvement

Make no mistake – the quest for better golf is a long journey filled with humbling challenges. However, few things in golf can compare to the joy of conquering your mistakes and weaknesses over time. Amateurs who persist through frustration and stay dedicated to meaningful practice will reap steady improvement. Your future self will look back proudly at the mistakes you overcame enroute to becoming a better golfer. Keep your head up through the lows and keep working to fix your flaws. By doing so, you will unlock lasting enjoyment and satisfaction playing this difficult yet captivating game called golf.


Golf is a game rife with complexity and frustration for amateur players. However, through dedication and persistent effort, amateur golfers can correct their most costly mistakes. Proper setup alignment, smoothing out flawed swing motions, developing repeatability, and sharpening your short game will lead to lower scores. Embrace lessons and practice focused on your weak areas. Stay positive through the valleys in your game remembering that conquering mistakes brings lasting joy. Keep your eyes on steady improvement and enjoy the thrill of golf more each time you play.

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How can I improve my golf performance?

To improve your overall golf performance, focus on proper setup and swing fundamentals first. Then develop repeatability and consistency in your ball striking. Master course management skills like smart club selection and strategy. Improve your short game around the greens, along with your putting stroke. Take lessons, use training aids, and practice deliberately on your weakest skill areas. Recording your stats like fairways, greens, and putts will help identify priorities.

How do I fix my golf swing?

Fixing swing flaws requires identifying the mistakes through video analysis or professional instruction. Then perform targeted practice like swing drills, using alignment aids, slowing your motion down, and rehearsing proper positions. To ingrain changes, commit to practice sessions 2-3 times per week focused on proper setup, takeaway, backswing, transition, and impact positions. Be patient and track progress monthly.

What is a mistake in golf?

A mistake in golf is any deviation from proper fundamentals, mechanics, or strategy that produces poor shots and high scores. Mistakes include improper alignment, wayward swing motions, inconsistent strikes, short game errors, poor course management, and mental lapses that affect your play.

How can I improve my golf at home?

You can improve your golf at home through practice routines focused on fundamentals. For the full swing, use impact bags, swing trainers, and mirrors to groove your motion. For short games, use practice mats and foam balls to rehearse chipping and putting. Focus on solid contact, trajectory, and alignment. You can also do strength training targeted at your core and swing muscles. Review golf course strategy and shot selection. Watch instructional videos to continue learning.

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