11 tips to get better without lessons:
- Improve your short game
- Train to swing faster
- Measure your swing with a launch monitor
- Build a golf simulator at your house
- Learn more about the golf swing
- Improve your mental game
- Consider swing training tools
- Make sure you have the right equipment
- Record your swing
- Understand ball flight laws
- Practice these three fundamentals
Update: Reviewing this list 2 years later, I would highly recommend #4 and #11. If you can build skill with the fundamentals in #11 and train with a golf launch monitor, playing year round, you completely increase your chances of game improvement!
Growing up, I had very little access to golf instruction and someone to guide me along the way in my journey to play my best golf possible.
By the time I was 20 years old, I had shot a 66 at my home course and broke 70 several times! Even to this day I have had a total of 1 lesson in my life and I am not sure that it did much for my game.
As an adult I continue to work on my game and am working on gaining my certification as a golf instructor.
The good news for someone that either doesn’t have the time, money, or access to some of the best instruction the game has to offer is that there are ways to get better at golf without lessons.
While lessons can help speed up the process and give you confidence that you are on the right path, finding the “secret in the dirt” as Ben Hogan said can help you be your own coach and know the things to watch for.
How To Get Better At Golf Without Lessons: 11 Tips
#1: Improve Your Short Game
I have this item listed number one because it is the fastest way to break 80 and to get better without golf lessons.
While it might be difficult to ever break 70 without hitting the ball solid 95% of the time, you can break 80 with a weak driver and poor iron shots as long as you keep the ball in play.
The great news is that you can be great at putting and chipping without a great amount of speed, athletic ability, strenght or coaching. Also, just about ever practice green at public courses is wide open and free to use.
It doesn’t take money to get good at short game, plus there are plenty of little games you can practice around your house.
How to get better at golf at home!
As a young junior, I had someone pull me aside and recommend the following formula.
- Keep your driver in play
- Be around each green in regulation (within 30 yards)
- Become great at hitting pitch and chip shots
- Practice your 3-10 footers
This is the formula above to shooting scores in the low 80s and on occasion breaking 80. Here is some further detail. If over the course of 18 holes, you can get up and down around 50% of the time to save par, you will have 9 bogey and 9 pars.
This is assuming you hit zero greens in regulation.
Now, if you hit some of the shorter holes in regulation, let’s say 6 total greens and can make at most par on those holes, you are left with 12 greens that you did not hit.
If you can maintain that same 50% success rate, you will have 6 more part for a total of 12 pars and 6 bogeys. This puts you at 78 for an 18 hole score.
This should be motivation to get started on the short game!
Within these 22 practice games, you will find some chipping and putting games to play.
On your journey to get better, here is a measuring stick you can use to compare your stats to the average scratch golfer (pay special attention to the scrambling rate):
|Greens in Regulation||67%|
|Putts Per Hole||1.67|
|Average Driving Distance||251|
Here is a video that can be helpful to learn a basic chipping motion:
#2: Train To Swing Faster
There is a direct correlation between driver distance and handicap. The great news is that there are ways to train at your home to improve your swing speed.
With the SuperSpeed System and protocols you can experience a 5-8% increase in swing speed as early as the first session.
The analytics are pretty clear on the importance of speed in the game of golf. Would you rather hit your approach shot from 130 yards of 160 yards?
The answer is pretty simple! We know that over the course of time, we will hit shots from 130 yards much closer than from 160 yards, whether we are an average amateur golfer, a scratch golfer, or a PGA Tour member!
- Check out SuperSpeed Overspeed Training Protocols
- Train every other day for 10-15 minutes.
- See a 4-6% increase in swing speed as early as the first training protocol.
The number one thing that has helped me gain significant distance is the SuperSpeed Training System.
This overspeed based system where you train every other day for about 10-15 minutes with different swing sticks can help you increase your swing speed by 5-8% which can be 20-30 yards. Who wouldn’t want an extra 20-30 yards. Plus it helps improve your mechanics.
SuperSpeed Golf – Use Discount Code Golfjourney365 for some savings!
The key is having shorter approach shots, so we can hit the ball closer to the hole and then make more putts! Speed is king in the game of golf! Make sure you check out SuperSpeed Golf!
Think about the combination of an awesome short game (getting up and down for par 50% of the time) along with hitting the ball 20-30 yards further! Quite the combination!
Here is another great option to add speed:
Gain 30-40 yards in 30 Days – Swing Man Golf
#3: Measure Your Swing With A Launch Monitor
Understanding your swing speed, launch angle, side spin other key data points can help you get better. It can also help you with tip #8 (right equipment).
There test have been done comparing some of the lower entry level launch monitors against the Trackman and it is pretty clear that the overall data with these launch monitors is pretty impressive.
The game of golf is changing for the better. What was once only a dream for most amateur golfers has not become a reality and affordable. There are several quality options for your own launch monitor to help determine what club is best for your game.
You can now test in the comfort of your own home, at the driving range or even on the course with a launch monitor of your own.
Knowing key data such as club speed, ball speed, launch angle, spin rate and other key data provided by these launch monitors can be a game changer.
The professional golfers of today all have access to some great technology including launch monitors to help measure their swing and know their numbers.
Can an amateur use this same or similar technology for game improvement? Yes, absolutely and I would highly recommend it.
In today’s golf world, even amateurs can have access to amazing technology and data with the technology now available and know the distance they hit their irons and all of their clubs.
This can help you map out your bag and have with pretty quality precision the distance you hit each club.
Even if you aren’t going to go all out and build an indoor golf simulator like I did (see below tip #4), you can still pick up a launch monitor at a reasonable price and use it in your indoor net or taking to the course or driving range with you! Getting the right club setup for you whether it is a 3 wood, driver or wedge can help you shoot lower scores!
I would recommend one of the three launch monitors listed below:
#4: Build A Golf Simulator In Your House
While a more major investment, it has been the game changer for me. As a father of 3 and someone that works 50 hours a week, having time to practice and play is at a premium.
Several years ago, I built a golf simulator in my garage and I have seen my scores go from an average of between 74-78 down to 70-74 and have seen an increase in swing speed from all of the repetitions along with the SuperSpeed System protocols that I have followed.
I used to rely on scoring on my short game (tip 1), but can now strike the ball very solid with every iron in the bag. As long as I can keep my driver in the fairway, I feel that I can shoot par or lower on any given day. Talk about playing fun golf!
The ability to play golf 365 days a year is the big difference. I can now continue to work on my swing even on the coldest days in the northern part of the United States! Not only I have I experienced a reduction in scores, but the hours of fun with family and friends is hard to beat!
Let’s face it, in order to get really good at golf, we must practice frequently. I went with a SkyTrak Launch Monitor and the TGC software and can now play over 100,000 courses including Augusta, Pebble Beach, Bethpage Black, Whistling Straits. St. Andrews and many other of the top 100 courses in the world.
This golf simulator setup, which is more affordable that you might imagine, has been a game changer.
I can now play golf everyday of the year regardless of rain, snow, cold weather or time of day. I can practice or play rounds of golf. I can stand in the 11th fairway at Augusta and with the auto-rewind feature I am able to practice my approach shots from various differences.
It is worth checking out through Rain or Shine Golf as they offer some incredible packages along with financing offers that are difficult to beat.
Some direct links to Rain or Shine Golf for pricing and financing:
Some additional resources on building a golf simulator:
#5: Learn More About The Golf Swing
Compared to 20 years ago, the amount of free information on the internet about the golf swing is incredible. There are many amazing instructors giving tips and keys to improving the golf swing.
One could end up in the rabbit hole of youtube golf instruction, but overall the learning that can take place and applying it to the swing can be a game changer.
Here is a list of golf instructors that I have reviewed:
Anyone of these instructors listed above is of high quality and has a great deal of free content. Most offer additional membership sites where they will review your swings or give you further information into their instruction and system that they believe is best.
Check them out, find out your favorite one or two and see what you can learn about the golf swing!
I recently made the leap and purchased the George Gankas membership and the amount of information is incredible. To follow along on my journey with George Gankas, check this post for monthly updates.
#6: Improve Your Mental Game
The average round of golf takes around 4 hours to play. This is a long time to stay mentally sharp over the course of the round. There are ups and down, highs and lows and challenges that we might not have anticipated.
The one thing headed into a round is that you can expect the unexpected. How you respond to situations can make or break your round. The good news for golfers is that there are plenty of resources out there to improve in this area.
Dealing with self imposed pressure is a barrier that many golfers have to find a way to get over. We have all played worse in situations where it became too important or where we wanted to play really well to show someone how good we are!
Here are some of the two awesome I have read and utilized to help get better on this side of golf.
#7: Consider Swing Training Tools
There are many tools on the market to help you get better. If you are fortunate enough to set up something in your garage or back yard, having some simple training tools can help you get to the next level.
Many instructors have gone to training tools that help you produce certain movements or make you avoid certain barriers.
I would highly recommend the DST compressor, Orange Whip and the George Gankas G Box.
Here are our top 5 training tools
#8: Make Sure You Have The Right Equipment
This goes back to tip #3 (measure your swing)! We now have access to information at our fingertips and being able to understand how far each club flies.
This is very important when it comes to your wedge game. Having the properly loft wedges for your game is essential. We know that 60% of the shots in a round of golf takes place inside of 100 yards.
Ensuring you have the right wedges in your hands can help you save several shots per round!
I would also highly recommend figuring out if hybrids, long irons or fairway woods are best for your game. Get that launch monitor you want and need to help you figure out how to best select your 14 clubs in your bag! Hybrids can be a game changer for many golfers.
As swing speeds slow down as we age, taking out a 3, 4 or 5 iron and replacing with a hybrid is a solid option.
Some additional resources for your club decisions:
- 5 hybrid vs 5 iron: which one should I carry?
- 3 wood vs 3 hybrid: which one should I carry?
- 5 wood vs 3 hybrid: which one should I carry?
#9: Record Your Swing
Track your swing over the course of time to see if you are making improvements from a visual stand point. We are all walking around with an amazing camera in our pocket in our smartphones.
The ability for HD and slow motion viewing of your swing is something golfers of the past paid big money for!
I used an app called Hudl Technique to store my swings over the course of time. There are certain things I used to struggle with including early extension, not being shallow enough and stalling through the shots.
The combination of hitting thousands of balls in my golf simulator, following instructors like George Gankas, and recording my swing has helped me make the adjustments needed.
If nothing else, check out the tempo of your swing. Low and slow is not the answer, but rather a 3:1 ratio is the answer. Check out our post on Tour Tempo Golf!
The Best Way to Analyze your Swing:
#10: Understand Ball Flight Laws
Have you ever asked yourself I wonder why that shot curved right or left and how do I fix that?
If you understand the ball flight laws you can start to become your own swing instructor and make corrections on the range or the course by reading the flight of your golf ball.
Too often golfers turn to the video of their swing when everything you need to know can be read off of your ball flight. Did you know that your ball flight can tell you the following:
- Where your club face was at impact.
- If your swing path was left or right of the club face.
Once you know these two items you can make the corrections by checking out our 2nd Tip on understanding what swing thoughts can help you get the proper matchups.
Why does my golf ball curve to the right?
So let’s dive into the ball flight laws:
- Generally speaking, the golf ball will start where the club face is aiming.
- The golf ball will then curve away from the swing path.
There are two different lines that we must understand. The target line and the start line. The best golfers start the ball left or right of the target line and then curve the ball back towards the target.
Let’s go over some examples to help you better understand the ball flight laws.
Example A: Let’s say that the club face is 3 degrees right of the target line and the swing path is 5 degrees right of the target line. What will the ball do?
Answer: The ball will start right of the target line and draw back towards the target. This is known as a push draw.
Example B: Let’s say the club face is 3 degrees right of the target line, same as in example A, but the swing path is only 1 degree right of the target line. What will the ball do?
Answer: The ball will start to the right of the target line and will fade to the right. Keep in mind that the ball will curve away from the swing path. In this example, both the club face and the swing path are to the right and the ball will curve away from the path.
Example C: Let’s say the club face is 3 degrees to the left of the target line and the swing path is 5 degrees left of the target line. What will the ball do?
Answer: The ball will start to the left and curve to the right. This would be a pull fade or pull slice. Keep in mind that even though the face is closed to the target line, it is open to the swing path and the ball will curve away from the swing path.
Example D: Let’s say the club face is 3 degrees to the left and the swing path is only 1 degree to the left. What will the ball do?
Answer: The ball will start left and curve left. This shot would look like a pull draw.
Hopefully, these examples help you understand the club face and swing path correlation and how they match up. Once you understand these ball flight laws, it will help you read your own shots and possibly make in round adjustments.
#11: Practice These Three Fundamentals
The Stack and Tilt Instructors said it best when they described what they believed were the fundamentals of golf. They explained it somewhat similar to this:
- Fundamental #1: The golfer’s ability to control the bottom of the golf swing. The best golfers will hit the ground in the intended spot, close to 100% of the time.
- Fundamental #2: The golfer’s ability to control the curve of the golf ball. The best golfers are able to start the ball to the right or left of the target line and have the ball curve towards the target without the ball over curving past the target.
- Fundamental #3: The golfer’s ability to have enough power to play the golf course. This means they are able to hit the ball far enough to play the course in regulation.
They explained that among the greatest golfers of all time there were different grips and different aim points. The fundamentals in golf are not grip, and alignment.
Ben Hogan played with a weak grip, while Lee Trevino had a strong grip. Lee Trevino and Fred Couples aimed way to the right, while Sam Snead and Arnold Palmer aimed well to the right.
Drill for A Stock Shot in Golf
A key is to control your start line and your curve, which is the 2nd fundamental in golf. I would recommend the stock draw shot. Here is a drill you can practice at the driving range:
- Setup an alignment stick about 7 to 10 yards in front of you on the target line.
- See how many shots out of 10 you can start to the right of the target.
- Track this data over time and continue to work on your start line.
To improve in fundamental #3, I would highly recommend SuperSpeed Golf or Swing Man Golf!
Practice, practice practice is truly the key.
I found my secret and breakthrough with the golf simulator setup in my garage! Golf is fun! Golf is a journey! Golf is one awesome fun journey where we challenge ourselves to get better and shoot our best scores!
After I made my list of 11 I realized there is one other key/tip.
Course management is important, but oftentimes people are tired of hearing about course management. If you want one last tip, make sure you check out our series on breaking each new barrier in golf!
I have provided guides on how to break 100, 90, 80 and 70. Check out more below, if interested.
We will let a quote from Arnold Palmer sum it up:
“Swing your swing, not some idea of a swing. Not a swing you saw on TV. Not that swing you wish you had. No, swing your swing. Capable of greatness. Prized only by you. Perfect in its imperfection. Swing your swing. I know I did.”Arnold Palmer