By Dr. Tom Dorsel, Ph.D.

     For some reason, non-golfers often get the crazy impression that golf is easy. Even some seasoned golfers seem to think similarly, as evidenced by their getting so mad when golf gets tough.  They think, “This game is so easy, why do I keep messing it up?  There is no rhyme nor reason for this!”


The Problem with “Easy”

     Well, the rhyme and the reason are that they have not accepted that golf is a difficult game, thereby setting themselves up for a number of problems:

1. Getting easily frustrated and angry when they fail:  “How can I play this lousy, when the game is so ‘easy.’”

2. Blaming the clubs, the course and bad luck, rather than their lack of skill:  “I know I am good at golf, and the game is so ‘easy,’ it has to be the wrong clubs, poor course conditions or bad luck that are holding me back.”

3. Fudging on their handicaps, turning in only low scores in order to look better than they are, at least, on paper.  They are pretending to be capable, when they really aren’t there yet.  “I don’t want anyone to know how bad I am at this ‘easy’ game.”

4. Most importantly, if golf is ‘easy’ and mainly a matter of luck, then why practice?  “Hey, I shouldn’t have to practice, because golf is ‘easy.’  And, besides, it will do no good to practice, because the whole game is just a matter of luck?”


The Benefit of Accepting Golf’s Difficulty

     The benefit of recognizing and accepting the difficulty of golf is that going forward you can relax and welcome the challenge, rather than getting all upset and creating tension in your swing and confusion in your head.

     You can now start learning from your mistakes and practicing what needs to be practiced.  You can also not be afraid to keep an honest handicap that reflects your current honest level of play.  A true handicap will help you relax in team competitions and allow you to make an actual contribution to your team’s success.

     The happiest outcome of all is that gradual improvement will occur, rather than your game going nowhere as you continue with your anger, frustration, blaming and pretending.

     An old friend, whom I had played golf with for years, once told me:  “You know, the most important thing I have learned from playing with you is that golf is a difficult game.” Sadly, I have to assume that he merely witnessed how difficult the game was for ME!  As for him, he had always known golf’s difficulty cognitively, but had not ever accepted it emotionally, nor let it change his behavior for the better.


Dr. Tom Dorsel is a sport psychologist living on Hilton Head Island.  His best selling book is “GOLF: The Mental Game.” Reach him at  This article is also published in the current issue of the Hilton Head Sun.