Why are amateur golfers so inconsistent?

Firstly let’s talk about what we mean by & how we define inconsistency within an amateur
golfers game.

Inconsistency can occur during the same round, and you can suddenly go from playing decent golf to suddenly looking like garbage for no apparent reason.

On a golf trip when you play for consecutive days, and one day you play great then the next day you look like it’s your first round. If you play every weekend, why do you go from playing great one week to playing horribly the next?

Inconsistency does happen in the pro game as well of course. With them, we are talking
about perhaps 5-6 shots per round when they lose form, but for amateurs, we can be as far
apart as 15-20 shots apart from one round to the next.

The obvious thing is it’s our swing!

Our swings are the ultimate thing that will affect consistency the most, no doubt. Getting the face back straight to the ball is golf personified, and this is the holy grail we all chase to be more consistent.

Many amateurs are good with a particular club and can repeat a good swing but, as soon as
another yardage or club is called for, they can’t repeat this despite feeling like they are.

Now your swing will only improve with grind, commitment & practice under the supervision
of a good coach. There are, however, other reasons why we are inconsistent that are maybe
slightly less obvious, and we will concentrate on these for the rest of this blog.

One of the reasons is the scorecard. If you have had an excellent front 9 and are scoring well
it is very common for the wheels to fall off and to become an inconsistent golfer. This is
down to the psychology of being on a good round. If you score well, you might get a
handicap reduction or win in the competition you are playing in. The thought of achieving
this can distract you from performing well or make you play too conservatively & play safe
and protect a good score.

I have seen some amateur & pro golfers who don’t look at the score until the end. Now you
know roughly if you’re on a good round, but if this happens to you regularly, it may be
worth being disciplined enough to not look at the score until the end of the round.

You could explain this situation to your playing partners and ask them to keep score but not to mention it until you have finished.

What can also affect this is if you’ve had a good round the weekend before and you are set
to put another scorecard in this week for handicap analysis. You go into that round with
high expectations of repeating what you did in the previous round, and this puts lots of
pressure on you to do well.

As soon as a bad shot appears, it is easy to panic, tense up and start making bad swings. You
begin to playing over defensive shots where you take too much speed & rhythm away from your swing trying to play safe and end up shanking it or hooking into the trees because your timing is off.

Try to play each shot as if it’s a new challenge and do everything you can to stay in the
moment of hitting the next ball well, restricting yourself from looking at the score. Easier
said than done as even taking this advice, it is nearly impossible to do this at times as this
game can frustrate us all into losing our heads at a critical time.

Another thing that can affect consistency is practice or lack of preparation.

If you have practised a lot the week leading up to the game, then this can have a significant impact on how well you play as you have hit balls since the last time you played meaning it is fresh in your mind for when you turn up to the first tee.

You may have spent numerous hours at the range or been putting at home on your putting mat, but all these exercises should pay off in the end as you arrive knowing what you’re going to do. The only time I have seen this work against a golfer is if they are working hard to try to change something fundamental in their swing.

If this is the case, although it is very hard in reality, try to go with lower expectations
than you usually would as a swing change can take time, and a bit of short term pain, to
ingrain and if you’ve spent lots of time practising it you are desperate for it to show on the
course, but it doesn’t always do this.

If you’ve just spent time working on rhythm and tempo and nothing on your swing mechanics, then you should see an improvement compared to the player who puts their clubs in the garage for a week between rounds.

The condition of the course can have a considerable effect on how amateur golfers perform.

How well we can adapt (or not) to a change in conditions from one round to the next will
determine how close to the previous scoring we can get. The harsh reality is that our skill set is still not good enough to allow for these changes. If it’s unusually dry for example and the ball is rolling and bouncing a lot, then many amateurs will not allow for this, especially on our approaches to the green.

If the last time you played was just after 2 days of substantial rain, and you hit a 7-iron to the heart of the green from 150 yards and it bounced softly and stopped the next time after a week of extreme heat the same approach might land at the 150yard point but bounce a couple of foot in the air and roll through and out the back leaving a tricky chip back to make a good score. The pros can counter this by using loft wedges and approaching from height to stop quickly and combat the dry conditions, but many amateurs don’t have that weapon in the arsenal, and so inconsistent scoring creeps in.

The lie is another significant factor of inconsistency for amateurs. At the driving range and
off the tee we can be very consistent because we control the lie with a tee or at the range
the mat controls the perfect lie. This means when we get on the course and get a lie below
or above our feet, we can suddenly lose the strike consistency we are used to seeing in

This is something that can only really be practised on the course and should be
something all amateur golfers do when they go out on the course for practice.

Golf Geeks has another blog about how amateur golfers should practice, but incorporating playing some holes as part of your practice routine is extremely useful and can be more beneficial than hitting balls at the range in a controlled environment.

Course management can play a part when trying to be consistent. If you start the round and
you keep the ball in play, hitting fairways & greens you can quickly build an excellent score.
By playing shots you are comfortable with at all times, that is within your skill set will only breed confidence.

If you stand on every tee and hit it as hard as you can or go for every tightly tucked pin just behind a bunker, then this careless course management will always cost you shots and breed inconsistent rounds from one day to the next.

Your playing partners can also have a huge effect on how consistent a golfer you are. You
may not have even thought about this before, but whether consciously or sub-consciously it
can have a considerable impact, either positively or negatively. Some playing partners are
really friendly, encouraging all the time while others are just in full banter mode the whole
round & each type can hugely affect your round and score.

It’s straightforward to say but hard to do but try to block your playing partners out and whatever is said between shots has no reflection on the golf you play whether your being goaded into hitting a near-impossible shot or encouraged to lay-up for safety you need to make your own decision out there, knowing your game better than anyone else, as to what shot/strategy is best in that scenario.

Making sure you mix up the playing partners you play with regularly is a good thing and will
get you used to playing with people you don’t know, and this will stand you in good stead to
feeling comfortable no matter who you play with and confident of performing your own
game at all times.

Outside life stresses can have a massive effect on how well you play from one round to the
next. We don’t have the luxury to solely concentrate on our game like the pro’s although
they have other stresses like wanting to keep their tour card, pleasing and attracting
sponsors, dealing with travelling all over the world etc. but these outside noises can creep in for us all.

If you’re having problems at work, at home or a health worry then half your mind is on
something else whilst you try to play & will hugely affect your game and sometimes you
need to be brutally honest with yourself and say I’m just not in the frame of mind to be
good at golf today.

Physical fitness can impact amateur golfers and consistency, as well. If you notice your score
starts to tail off with 4-5 holes to go, you could be getting fatigued, even sub-consciously
without realising it. Trying to live a healthy lifestyle, eating well & getting plenty of sleep and making sure you walk when you play if you can to keep your mind a body fit to play the game.

I know many amateur golfers who are great for 13 or 14 holes who run out of steam
and the scorecard falls apart with those last few holes.

With these points taken into consideration, I hope it has highlighted how many variables
there are when talking about consistency for the amateur golfer & some ways to try to
counter these and play more consistent golf.

Thanks for reading, I hope this Blog has been helpful.

There are lots of other blogs and other content on the Golf Geeks Website aimed at helping
fellow amateur golfers.

Matt @ Golf Geeks