How to avoid these 2 round-killing mistakes

Emiliano Grillo hits his club on the ground in anger after hitting a bad chip shot on the 4th hole during the Memorial Tournament - Second Round on June 02, 2017 at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio

Don't let these mistakes ruin your round.

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We’ve all been there: The round is going well, you’re chugging along. Maybe you’ve mis-hit a shot or two, or botched a few putts, but overall, things are okay. Then, it happens: the big blow-up. The hole or series of shots where everything goes wrong, derailing your entire round.

Experiencing this kind of disappointment can be demoralizing regardless of when in the round it occurs. But part of becoming a better player is learning how to recognize potential round-killers and overcoming them before they affect you, protecting both your score and your sanity.

While specific round-killers can vary by player, there are a few that are universally afflicting. According to GOLF Teacher to Watch Jonathan Buchanan, playing the hero is one major round-killer that recreational players would be wise to avoid.

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“When most amateurs get in trouble, they stay in trouble,” Buchanan said. “Meaning they often try to do too much instead of using their next shot to ensure they get back into a playable position in the fairway. That’s where you find a lot of triples and big numbers.”

The other problem, Buchanan said, is that many recreational players tend to hold themselves to irrationally high standards, expecting to duplicate the best shot of their life at a given moment.

“Many players will be faced with a shot, say 200, 220 yards over water, and they think that the one 5-wood they’ve hit in their life that goes that far should be that shot,” he said. “Instead, I recommend breaking that shot down by half. Let’s hit it 100 yards, and then 100 yards again. I think getting confidence in that is a good thing.”

Jonathan Buchanan is the founder of City Golf Club in Dallas, Texas, and one of GOLF’s 2024-25 Teachers to Watch.

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