Golf seems like such a good idea, doesn’t it? It shouldn’t be the nightmare it is for so many people. Spending the morning with your friends, beautiful surroundings, playing and competing, occasionally making contact with the ball so sweet you can hardly feel it, but can only marvel at the sight of the ball doing exactly what you want it to do. No wonder so many people play it.
Therefore, it’s puzzling that more people have been leaving the sport than picking it up. It’s estimated that, in 2013, 4.1 million more people quit golf than began to play it. Moreover, within each golfer this approach/avoidance tension exists as well. Too many of us have God on one shoulder and the Devil on the other. And most golfers don’t know why.
I’m one of them. I’ve been playing for 13 years. Although my game has waxed and waned, the reality is that my scores are pretty much the same now that they were 10 years ago. And I’ve taken dozens of lessons. I shot in the low 90, sometimes the upper 80s, too often the mid to high nineties, occasionally breaking the century mark, just as occasionally getting into the low or mid 80s. Am I unusual? I don’t think so. The average male golfer in the United States shoots in the mid – 90s. Further, most people don’t get much better at golf over time—a few strokes here or there but nothing significant. At a conference of golf teachers and professionals, golf guru Fred Shoemaker asked if the teachers in the audience had seen their students get significantly better over the last 10 years. No one raised his or her hand.