Anyone who's played golf longer than, say, a week has suffered through a slump.

A slump can engulf one's whole golf game, or afflict just one or two parts, like driving or the short game. The end results are always the same: Rising scores and mounting frustration.

Golfer Miss Swing

Different players handle slumps in different ways. Some identify the problem – wayward tee shots, for example – and attack it head on by seeing their PGA pro and practicing until the infection is cured. Unfortunately, this approach isn't foolproof. History is littered with golfers, including greats like the late Seve Ballesteros, who tried everything to break a slump, to no avail.

Other players experiment with new clubs, especially if it's the putter giving them fits. On the opposite end are golfers who quit altogether, at least temporarily. It may sound like the easy way out, but closeting the clubs for a while can actually help. That's especially true for avid golfers who play so often that bad habits become ingrained.

A few weeks away from the course can rid the mind of negative thoughts and wipe clean the muscles' memories of creeping swing flaws.

If you can't bear taking a leave of absence, enlist your pro for a look-see.
Pinpoint your issue and gear the golf lesson toward fixing it.

How to Recover from a Golf Slump

How to Recover from a Golf Slump

If you play golf regularly, you already know that it is natural for your level of performance to go up and down over time. While all golfers would love to be more consistent, this is simply not a game which lends itself to consistency. Golf is incredibly hard, and maintaining a high level of play over an extended period of time is just not possible. Even the best golfers in the world have their ups and downs, mixing in missed cuts along with high finishes. You can always strive to do your best, of course, but having some struggles along the way is just part of the experience.

In this article, we are going to offer some advice on how you can recover from the occasional slump as quickly as possible. As soon as you notice that your level of play is starting to dip, there are steps you can take to reverse that trend. You might not immediately return to your best form, but the advice we provide should at least help you move back in the right direction. If you can manage to shorten your slumps and lengthen the periods of time when you are playing well, your overall game will be improved as a result.

Before we advise you on how to recover from a slump, it should first be mentioned that you need to maintain a positive attitude no matter the state of your game. If you are struggling to post good scores, having a negative attitude about it is only going to make things worse. There is no shame in struggling to play well – as mentioned above, this is an incredibly difficult game. Even when you are having trouble with your performance, you can still enjoy various other aspects of playing golf. By enjoying things such as the fresh air, the company of friends, the scenery of the course, and more, you will take some pressure off yourself during those rounds where you don't have your best stuff.

It should also be mentioned that you don't have to be a top-level golfer in order to work your way out of a slump. The word 'slump' only indicates that you are playing below your usual level – regardless of what that level may be. For a professional golfer, a slump could be playing several rounds in a row without breaking par. For an amateur, a slump might mean a few rounds in a row over 100. It doesn't really matter what kind of golfer you are; every player goes through their own form of a slump from time to time.

All of the content below is based on a right-handed golfer. If you happen to play left-handed, please take a moment to reverse the directions as necessary.

Getting Back to Basics

Getting Back to Basics

It probably won't surprise you to learn that the first thing you should do when slipping into a golf slump is to head back to the driving range. Most of the improvement in your game is going to take place on the range, so this is the natural place to get things back in order. You'll need to actually break out of your slump on the course during a round, but you can make that break out more likely by working through some issues on the range. Even just a single practice session may be all it takes to get yourself going.

So what should you be working on during this range session? Focus on the following keys.

  • Balance. Your thoughts should always return to balance anytime you are having trouble with your game. It is very likely that your balance – or lack thereof – is part of the problem. At the start of this practice session, make some controlled swings where you focus on nothing but staying nicely balanced from start to finish. Don't allow your weight to slide from side to side as you make these swings. With good balance in place, your ball striking will improve and you'll be back on track in no time at all.
  • Pre-shot details. One of the potential causes of a golf slump is a loss of focus on the basics of setting up for a shot. Are you aiming properly? Is your address position sound? Check on your pre-swing fundamentals to make sure nothing has gotten out of line. If you are having trouble assessing this on your own, ask for help. Someone you golf with regularly should be able to tell you whether or not your stance looks different than normal. Or, you can record a video of yourself hitting a few shots and then watch it back to look for any problems. The way you setup to hit a shot has a great deal to do with the outcome of that shot, so never take pre-swing points for granted.
  • Review your grip. Have your hands changed position on the grip recently without you having noticed? If so, it should be no surprise that your game is in a slump. The grip is an important piece of your overall technique, and even a slight change can lead to trouble. Think about the way the club feels in your hands during the swing – is something slightly off? Do your best to get back to your normal grip position and it is a good bet that your swing will start to come around.
  • Give your whole bag a workout. During this practice session, work your way all the way through your bag from bottom to top. In other words, start out with your wedges and hit some short, controlled shots. As you start to find your rhythm, begin to hit longer and longer shots with longer and longer clubs. Eventually, you will be using your driver to send the ball way down the range. Sometimes, a golf club can be caused by nothing more than struggles with a specific part of the bag. By working on your swing with the whole set during your practice session, you might be able to iron out the rough spots.

It is tempting to work on completely overhauling your swing mechanics when you slip into a slump. Resist this temptation! The last thing you want to do at this point is launch yourself into a rebuilding process. You have played better golf in the past, so there is every reason to believe you can play better golfer in the future with your existing game. Overhauling your swing mechanics should be reserved for a time when you feel like you are playing your best – and you still aren't reaching your goals. If you have simply slipped into a slump, the best thing to do is get back to basics. Figure out where you went off track, work on the necessary corrections, and move back toward your optimal level of play.

These practice sessions that you complete while trying to find your way out of a slump should be as simple as possible. Only focus on the basics of your game and leave the complicated mechanics for another time. Finding your way back to the basic building blocks of your swing will be the most effective way to restore your game.

Lean on Your Short Game

Lean on Your Short Game

When your game goes south, it is easy to blame your long game. That is the most noticeable sign of trouble, usually, as you will be hitting some tee shots way off target or missing some greens by wide margins. However, it is rarely true that the long game alone is to blame for your struggles. Most likely, it is a combination of the long game and the short game that has you struggling to shoot your normal scores. Instead of sweating your full swing, consider turning your focus to strengthening your performance on and around the greens.

If you can elevate the level of your short game, you will find that doing so provides a confidence boost across the board. You won't feel as much pressure when hitting an approach shot, for example, because you will know that you can get up and down for par if necessary. The short game is the great equalizer in golf – you can post good scores just based on your short game alone, even if your long game is off track.

To bring your short game up to its highest possible level, you are obviously going to need to practice. The following tips should help guide you through those practice sessions.

  • Back to basics, again. Just as you did out on the range, you should be working on the basics of your technique here in the short game as well. Make sure your putting grip is in good shape, make sure you are balanced in your stance, and make sure your head is not moving prematurely. When chipping, focus on hitting down through the ball with an aggressive motion. Small mistakes turn into big trouble in the short game, so checking in on your basics will have a profound effect.
  • Focus on distance control. When the short game goes wrong, it is usually distance control which is to blame. It simply isn't that hard to get the ball on line when putting or chipping, so spend most of your practice time improving your ability to hit the ball the right distance. This means focusing on longer chips and putts rather than short ones which shouldn't give you much trouble. The ability to control your distance on long chips and putts will allow you to get down in two a majority of the time.
  • Give yourself a variety of lies. One of the common mistakes made by the average golfer when practicing the short game is always practicing from a good lie. If you have even played a single round of golf in your life, you should know that you will never draw good short game lies every time. In fact, you probably won't even draw a good lie half of the time. The short game is all about improvising when you are in a tough spot. Give yourself as many different kinds of lies as possible around the greens and learn how to deal with them all properly.

It is a great feeling to know that you can count on your short game when trouble pops up on the course. No golfer is perfect with their long game round after round – or even hole after hole – so develop a solid short game that can get you out of a tight spot and keep your round on track. The only path to a good short game goes through plenty of practice, so make sure at least half of your regular practice time is dedicated to chipping and putting.