Why is Golf Physically and Mentally So Hard?

Why is Golf Physically and Mentally So Hard?

Golf is revered as one of the most challenging and frustrating sports around. Ask any amateur player and they’ll have stories of sliced drives, bladed iron shots, and 4-putted greens. Even the pros make it look deceptively easy. So why is golf so dang hard?

The difficult nature of golf stems from both physical and mental factors. The golf swing requires coordinated strength, flexibility, and timing. And the mental composure needed to execute precise shots repeatedly can crumble under pressure. This makes golf a supreme test of skill for all who take it up.

But having an understanding of why golf poses such unique challenges can help you improve your game and gain competency. With the right training, technique adjustments, equipment, and mindset tweaks, you can start shooting lower scores and really enjoying time on the course.

Let’s first look at some of the key reasons why golf is so hard, then explore tips to overcome the frustration.

Reasons Golf is Physically Hard

Golf imposes a lot of physical demands that can quickly expose any limitations in your strength, flexibility, stamina, and movement patterns:

Requires Coordinated Athleticism

The golf swing is an explosive sequence of rotations and weight transfers that must be in sync. It requires athleticism to drive the club head with precise timing of your hips, core, and arms. This makes it challenging to master.

Demands Flexibility

Generating a powerful turn and full shoulder rotation on the backswing takes pliable hips and decent thoracic mobility. Stiffness inhibits swing motion.

Tests Balance and Stability

Rotating against resistance while balanced on one foot challenges stability all while aiming to make square contact with the ball.

Strains the Body

Golf has a high injury rate, with lower back issues being most common. The rotational torque can strain muscles and joints if not conditioned properly.

Requires Stamina

Playing 18 holes means repeating the same explosive swing 100+ times. This taxes the muscles and cardio system if not in adequate physical shape.

Must Be In Shape To Swing Properly

Being overweight or having muscle imbalance/weakness leads to compensations that undermine swing efficiency. Physical fitness enables proper motion and power.

Simply put, golf exploits any deficiencies in your strength, mobility, flexibility, stability, and endurance. That’s why it can feel so physically demanding and be hard on the body. Proper conditioning and training is key.

Reasons Golf is Mentally Hard

In addition to physical skills, golf also challenges the mind like few other sports can:

Requires Extreme Precision

Unlike other sports with larger targets (hoops, goals, etc), in golf you must hit a tiny stationary ball into an even smaller cup up to 500 yards away with precision – and do it consistently.

Easily Lose Mental Focus

Lapses in concentration during any golf shot can produce poor contact and errant shots. Keeping mentally engaged on every stroke is easier said than done.

Composure Can Crumble Under Pressure

When money or your reputation is on the line during a tournament or bet, staying cool and avoiding brain freeze on a swing gets much harder.

Dwelling on Past Mistakes

Bad shots and high scores can linger in your mind, causing frustration. Dwelling too much on past errors makes it hard to be present for the next shot.

Second Guessing Mid-Swing

Overanalysis and swing thoughts when hitting a shot are a surefire way to mis-hit the ball. Keeping the mind quiet and instinctual is difficult.

Mental Endurance for 5 Hour Rounds

Maintaining consistent mental focus, positive thinking, and composure for 5 hours of play requires grit. Fatigue sets in.

Clearly, golf also challenges the psyche – throwing up mental obstacles at every turn. Without proper perspective and techniques, it’s easy to crumble when shots go awry.

Now that we understand why golf is so ridiculously hard both physically and mentally, let’s explore some ways to help master the game’s challenges and shoot lower scores.

Tips to Improve Your Golf Game

While you can’t change the inherent difficulty of golf, you can take steps to enhance your skills, mechanics, equipment, and mental game to make you a more competent player. Here are 9 tips:

1. Take Lessons to Improve Swing Mechanics

One of the fastest ways to improve is getting professional instruction. A coach can identify swing flaws and provide drills to ingrain proper mechanics for striking the ball crisply and accurately.

2. Structure Your Training

Off-course training focused on flexibility, strength, stability, and swing repetition will build a fitness base to help execute shots consistently without strain or compensation.

3. Account for Conditions in Club Selection

Factors like wind speed, obstacles, and elevation change affect distance. Smart course management and shot calculations can lead to more greens hit.

4. Practice Short Game and Scrambling

Sharpening your chipping, pitching, bunker play, and putting lets you save strokes even after bad shots. Lower scores depend on this.

5. Stay Focused Only On Your Next Shot

Forget previous bad shots or future implications. Laser focus only on the current shot execution. This keeps you in the present.

6. Use a Cart to Conserve Energy

Walking 5+ miles during a round depletes mental and physical stamina by the back 9 holes. Ride a cart to stay fresher.

7. Bring Snacks and Stay Hydrated

Pack high protein snacks, hydrating drinks, and electrolytes to keep energy and thinking sharp. Avoid blood sugar crashes.

8. Have a Drink to Take the Edge Off

One or two beers or a shot of whiskey can relax tension and instill a carefree attitude, leading to looser swings. But don’t overdo it!

9. Focus On Positives After Each Round

Review good shots and strides made after each round instead of ruminating only on poor play. This builds confidence.

10. Remember Golf Is Supposed to Be Fun

Don’t put pressure on yourself. Approach the game with levity and enjoyment. Golf is a hobby and pastime, not life and death.

With deliberate practice integrating some of these tips, you can begin lowering those scores, eliminating sloppy mistakes, and making measurable improvements over time.


There’s no sugarcoating it – golf is brutally hard. The intricate, precise mechanics of the full swing, trouble shots, and mental mastery required are extremely challenging to most players.

But hopefully this breakdown of the key physical and mental factors that make golf so difficult show that there are ways to overcome the frustration. Getting professional instruction, implementing an intelligent training routine, fine-tuning your equipment, and lightening your perspective can all help you shoot better scores.

While golf will always be a tough sport, adopting some of these tips can at least make it a more fun and less rage-inducing activity. You’ll get better with time and practice. Play patiently, focus only on what you can control, and enjoy the process of refining your game. With an open mindset and dedication, you can become the golfer you want to be.

Now get out there, be ready for the challenges, and try not to take it all too seriously. Golf is a lifelong journey. Find more ways to appreciate it, even when you hit bad shots.

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