16 Common Amateur Golfer Mistakes

Golf is complicated enough already, so why do we insist on making it more difficult on ourselves? While the swing has a million moving parts to think about, it’s the fundamentals that usually are the easiest to forget.

Here are 16 common mistakes amateurs make on the course.

Hitting the hero shot

Visualizing a shot is much different than actually pulling it off for a 25-handicapper than let’s say a Tour pro. While it’s easy to think you’re Seve, news flash, you aren’t! If you’re in trouble sometimes taking your medicine is your best option. Getting it back into play in one is usually a better option than taking five to get out of that knee-high rough.

Carrying the wrong equipment 

The rules allow you to play with 14 clubs. The beautiful part of that is the fact you can carry whatever you want as long as they are rules conforming. Let’s just say you have a trouble hitting your driver. There is no rule that says you have to carry one.

Of course, if you’re like Phil Mickelson you may even want to carry two. But if you have a fear of hitting it, why are you carrying it. Add a “hot 3-wood” or another wedge. Play to your strengths. Another thing you may want to look into is getting your clubs fitted. Maybe you’re two-degrees upright and you never even knew it? Even though the difference seems negligible, it can do wonders for your game.

Not taking enough club


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How many times have you been long with an approach shot? Now compare that to how many times you hit it short of the green. If you’re like most people the tendency is to take too little club. While there is a variety of reasons as to why you may not be hitting your 7-iron exactly 150 today like you usually do, you need to adapt. Just because it says 150 on the sprinkler head doesn’t mean it’s playing like it. Is it uphill? Where’s the wind? Where’s the pin? Awareness is key. Nobody ever holed out by hitting it short. 

Poor Alignment

This is an amateur killer. You checked off every swing thought but for some reason, you are still completely missing the target due to either a horrifying hook or a wicked slice. News flash: check your alignment. You can have the best swing in the world but if you’re not lined up correctly, you can kiss your fairways and greens good bye. 

Not Warming Up


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How many times have you stepped up to the first tee without going to the range or even taking a practice swing? If you’re like us chances are the first shot of the day is usually one you’d like to forget. It’s a common thing for amateurs since a game is usually squeezed in between work, picking up the kids, etc. Golf is a game of fluidity, rhythm, and movement and your body needs to be tuned correctly before you can go out there and try to break the course record. Try to leave yourself at least 20 minutes to get loose. 


One of the most common mistakes amateurs make is decelerating the club during their swings. You probably are familiar with the result which usually comes in the form of a chunk or some other type of mis-hit. This is due to a lack of trust or commitment to the shot. Commit to the shot and keep your speed up.

Using too much loft around the green


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While we’d all love to flop it off of a tightly mown area around the green stopping it on a dime next to the hole like Phil Mickelson, let’s be realistic. We are not Phil, but it’s fun to pretend you are…until you skull one on to the next tee box or put somebody in the hospital. Do yourself a favor, put away the 60-degree wedge and keep the ball on the ground if nothing is obstructing you. A bad chip with a 9-iron is usually better than a bad chip with a lob wedge.

Not playing a provisional ball

We’ve all stood on the tee and asked the question “did you see where that one went?” If you’re playing by the rules, that should be the cue to hit another one just in case. Nothing slows down play more like somebody have to walk back to the tee because they were too stubborn to hit another one. 

Negative Thinking


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As Bobby Jones once said, “competitive golf is played mainly on a five-and-a-half-inch course… the space between your ears.” The game is essentially a glass of water, and it’s up to the player to determine if it’s half full….or half empty. Whether you’re in a bad lie or looking at a narrow landing area, the way you mentally approach the shot will more often than not dictate the result.

Trying to kill it

While this method may work at the range, trying to swing out of your shoes usually doesn’t end well on the golf course. Swinging harder doesn’t necessarily equal distance especially when you are totally off balance. Say there’s a difficult tee shot in front of you. Instead of tensing up and letting nerves take over, really try to focus in on staying relaxed and being in rhythm.




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Everybody at one time has fallen victim to the sucker pin. What’s the point of playing golf if you’re not going to aim at the target, right? However what happens when that target is cut 3 paces over a deep bunker with water directly behind it? Sometimes the best target happens to be the safe side of the green. Your scorecard will thank you. 

Wearing proper attire 

Just because you dress like Rickie Fowler, doesn’t mean you are going to play like him. Nor does it mean that if you wear a “Modern” Nike blade collar shirt you will magically have the physique of Jason Day. While looking good on the golf course is half the battle knowing what to wear is equally important. Save your Sunday orange shirt/jogger/high-top shoe/flat-brimmed hat combo for the day you can break par on a consistent basis. Comfort should be your priority. 

Reaching for the driver


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While we love to let the big dog eat, sometimes throttling it back may be the prudent play. Take a short dogleg left par-4 for example. The hole says 340 on the card, but you know if you can hit that perfect drive you’d be able to carry the trees and cut the corner with ease. But if you miss it, you’re looking at a big number with a lot of squares around it. Unless you’re DJ or Rory, pick out a comfortable yardage you want in with the best angle. It’s simple course management.

Talking to a partner’s ball

Not only is this annoying, some people legitimately get mad at people who do this. There’s really nothing worse than when your playing partner says “nice shot” as you watch your ball sail OB or when they say “nice putt” a split second before it lips out. Stick to your own game and keep the comments to a minimum. 

Coach Gary Gilchrist explains what amateurs do wrong? 

SwingU’s Gary Gilchrist, Golf Digest Top 50 Teacher, Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher, and owner of the world’s top junior golf academy, explains what amateurs do wrong in golf.

Looking for sympathy

We all know that one person who can’t help but blame literally everything except himself for his poor game. No offense. Nobody cares a gust from the gods cost you or that the hole isn’t regulation size. Everybody catches bad breaks on the course. Own up to your lazy, wiped drive to the right or the fact your divot went further than the ball. It’s not golf, it’s you.