Golf Explained In 5 Minutes

This took me 25 years to learn - here is golf explained in 5 minutes.


  1. You will never reach your highest level without embracing your driver and irons. It's just not possible. Your wedges and putter are there to *enhance* your scoring. Your driver and irons define them.
  2. Give yourself permission to hit a bad shot. No matter how good you get at this game, you are one swing away from disaster. Accept it, and move on.
  3. Fall in love with grit. Grit is "perseverance and passion for long-term goals." Golf is a hard game that drives you crazy at times. Your grit is what keeps you focused on a long-term goal of improving. When you're frustrated on the course or range - grit is your friend.
  4. Get lessons at some point. It's the greatest investment you can make in your game. $500 spent on coaching will yield far bigger dividends than a new driver.
  5. Better golf is all about habits like practicing with intent, choosing smart targets, having a routine before each shot, and committing to having fun and being grateful to play You will never get better unless you improve your habits.
  6. Advance the ball as far as possible off the tee. Play conservatively with targets pretty much everywhere else.
  7. Putting is mostly about speed control. Yes, you want to hit your lines and learn to read the greens, but speed control will lower your scores the most. Focus on speed while you practice and on the course. Stop obsessing over your line.
  8. Be analytical. Keep track of your stats (especially strokes gained). Take a moment after every shot at the range to absorb the proper feedback and adjust. Review your rounds. Take notes.
  9. Clubfitting is not only for better players. A scratch golfer can still score well if you gave them the completely wrong set of clubs - they'll figure it out. Higher handicaps need all the help they can get. Don't make golf harder.
  10. The top two skills that will take you to the promised land are - strike location and clubface control. Obsess over them. Work on them tirelessly. Pay attention to them on every shot.
  11. Your lowest handicap will not come from more birdies. It will come from fewer double bogeys. It's all about expectation management.
  12. When you are stuck with pretty much any problem, try to do the opposite. Hooking it? Try to fade it. Hitting your irons too high? Deloft the club. Striking the toe too much? Try to hit the heel.
  13. Take care of your body. You will reduce aches and pains and score better. Work on mobility. Get stronger - lifting weights is GOOD for you!
  14. Obsess over simplicity. You don't need more shots, you need less. You don't need 5 swing thoughts, you need one at most. Any chance to dumb down this game, take it! Golfers think complicated is the answer. Trust me, it's not.
  15. Do not always hit the same shot over and over again while you practice. Switch it up. Change targets, and go through a total reset. Get wild with things, and experiment. Challenge yourself with a game. Have INTENT on each shot.
  16. Stop it with the swing tips. Your buddies don't have the answer. There's great info on YouTube and Instagram, but it might not be relevant. If you keep playing "golf swing" and making constant changes, you will never get better.
  17. Better wedge play is not about hitting it to 5 ft. It's more about making sure you get it on the putting surface almost every time. Find a technique/focus that allows you to do that. Stick with it. You don't need to be Seve or Phil w/ 6 different wedge shots. Keep it simple.
  18. Watch golf on TV for entertainment. But there's not much to learn. They are incredible but not as good as the broadcasts make them seem.
  19. Golf is a game of proximity and mistake avoidance. Do these two things more, and you're golden: 1) Get it closer to the hole off the tee 2) Avoid the *big* trouble. Easier said than done. The blend of those two is the basic framework for strategy.
  20. Do not fight the wind. Succumb to it. A headwind will reduce distance more than a tailwind helps. Take more club; you don't need a punch shot.
  21. If you're in the trees, take your medicine. PGA Tour players make bogey 80% of the time in a recovery situation. Get it back to safety first. Watch your scores drop.
  22. Know your stock yardages with every club in the bag. Not how far you hit it when you nuke your 7-iron. I'm talking about a standard shot. Verify with shot tracking systems or launch monitors.
  23. Study a course. Use Google Maps or an app like SwingU or 18Birdies. Plan out your tee shots. See where the big trouble is. Try making as many decisions as possible before you step on the course. This will free you up.
  24. Prioritize fun over EVERYTHING. You don't need to do everything in this email; I'm just giving you ideas. But whatever you prioritize, make sure you are having fun. That looks different for every golfer. Find your own path, and don't take it too seriously. It's just a game.

If you liked these thoughts, you will love The Four Foundations of Golf.

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About the Author
Jon Sherman

Jon Sherman is the owner of Practical Golf, a website dedicated to being an honest resource for the everyday golfer who is looking to enjoy the game more, as well as improve. He is the author of the bestselling book 101 Mistakes All Golfers Make (and how to fix them). Jon regularly competes in tournaments around the New York Metro region and is a scratch golfer. You can find him on Twitter here - @practicalgolf, where he is happy to chat about golf with anyone.