Expect Some Bad Shots by Wally Armstrong

“The more I practice the luckier I get.” – Ben Hogan

At its core, golf is really a game of misses. The perfect round doesn’t exist. The key isn’t to play perfectly but to minimize the effects of your misses. The fewer mistakes you make, and the more good breaks you get, the lower your score.

Even the great Ben Hogan used to say that if he hit three or four really good shots exactly as he planned during a round, he was happy with his performance. It’s interesting that so many golfers tend to complain if every shot doesn’t come out the way we hoped.

Years ago I heard someone say that as a rule the average player will have five good breaks and five bad breaks during an eighteen-hole round of golf. It’s known as the “five-and-five rule.” I’m not sure who came up with it, but in my experience as a player and an instructor, I’ve witnessed its accuracy firsthand. At almost all levels of the game players have experienced this principle. You get about as many good breaks as you do bad ones. It doesn’t mean you will always have five of each. Some days you may have seven or nine bad breaks, other days you may have only two. And your score usually reflects the round’s dynamics. But on average, the good and bad breaks tend to even out-five and five.

I tell players to take heart if they self-destruct on the first hole and come away with a double bogey. “Now you’ve got that out of the way, and you’ve got some good breaks coming,” I say, though they don’t always see it that way.

The key is to put the bad breaks behind you and focus on the future. Continue trying to put yourself in the best position to score, and your persistence will pay off in the end. The longer you play and the more accurate and confident your game becomes, the fewer mistakes you are likely to make. But even then, expect some bad shots during each and every round. Prepare for them. Even plan what you will do when they come. But above all, don’t let them get you down or shatter your confidence.

What usually separates the great players from the average ones is their ability to deal with difficulties as they arise and to move through them to get in an even better position to succeed.