Golf: Is it really ‘ Just like riding a bike’?

The old expression, “Just like Riding a Bike,” is often used to describe something that comes second nature and should be easy to do.  It implies that we know everything about an activity and can take off where we left off.”

Unfortunately it’s not the case with Golf, which makes it all that more satisfying when you hit that perfect shot.  Over the years I have invested in many golf lessons and joined many golf clinics.  It’s only now that I realise investing in a long term plan to improve my golf will be more beneficial and increase my chances of improvement.

It is an age-old debate amongst golfers who are new to the game:

“How many lessons do I need when I am starting out?”

One a week for 5 weeks or a lesson every 2 weeks?  If you are thinking numbers like that, then consider this.

When you are learning how to swing a club or have decided to commit to a considerable improvement it is vital to avoid practising with bad habits or the same old faulty swing.  You must make a plan and consider it a medium term (note: not short-term) commitment.

It would be prudent to write it down and structure all your lessons, practice sessions and playing rounds.  Set achievable goals, work on your weaknesses and map your improvement.  Every lesson must be followed up with a written record of key points learned and repeated practise of those key points.  Follow up lessons are essential to have yourself checked out to see if you have achieved your key points.

A good reliable golf swing cannot be built-in a few months.  As you understand your swing and its flaws, lessons can be spaced out to one per month.

If you are new to golf you will need 1-2 clinics of say 6 weeks in a group for starters, then approximately 4-6 individual lessons with practise in-between  (immediately after each lesson ) over the next 2 months.  Bunker skills, chipping and putting sessions are on top of all that !

A golfer with potential for improvement also has a number of characteristics essential for good, consistent golf.

These are:

  1. Resilience – able to stay calm after a bad shot and play the next one unperturbed.
  2. Perseverance – having persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.
  3. Love of the game – self-explanatory
  4. Enjoyment of the game and where it takes you – you should love improving but also the friends you make and the places that you play.

As your game improves you will find that your practise has changed.

  1. You will practise more.
  2. On the range you will change from trying to hit long to no particular target, to hitting irons to targets and chipping and putting a lot more.
  3. Appreciate the value of a lesson and make greater attempts at key point retention.
  4. Your shot making consistency will improve less blow out holes and have the ability to hit a greater variety of shots.

So, in conclusion, lessons are an essential part of the plan.  Everybody needs them no matter how good they are.  Find a coach that has characteristics that you can comfortably relate to, who is organised and can create a medium term plan for you.  Stick with her/him and make the commitment.



In a previous article (Its time to book your 1st clinic)  I have given details where to go to book a lesson with a teaching professional and information on beginners clinics.  You can also visit Golf Victoria website golfvic.org.au and enter your postcode to find your local club or call them on 03 8545 6200.

If you are a member of a private club ask in the pro shop for information on booking lessons.



I think it’s important to understand your handicap so you can control your expectation out on the course.  Most of us will play above our handicap from game to game, but when we play to our handicap or below it is a good day.

Here are tables from https://mygolfspy.com/2016-report-overall-golfer-performance-by-handicap/, these will help you manage your expectations.


Data was captured from TheGrint App and Website.

Our sample is composed of 20,000 golfers and 400,000 scores of 18 Hole rounds.:

  • Are part of a USGA Compliant Golf Club
  • Have uploaded at least 5 scores to TheGrint

Abnormal scores (scores with handicap differentials lower than -10 or higher than 45) were removed from an initial sample of over 400,000. Our data is taken from golfers who track their handicap.



This graph helps understand how different the avg. score over par vs the handicap.

As many know the Handicap Index is a representation of the potential ability of the player, therefore is not simply an average.

So you will see how someone in the 11-15 Handicap Bracket is not necessarily averaging 11-15 strokes above par. Instead the average 18 over par, which is significantly more. Additionally, an interesting insight is that for you as a player it helps identifying the variability of your game. So for example, if you are a 6-10 handicap you should avg. 85 (on a 72 par golf course). If you are below that, then it means you are very stable, but if you are above that number it means that your scores vary more than the typical golfer.




It is important to understand that Putting is not an independent metric. Being below average might mean that a) you are a better putter of the ball or that b) you don’t hit many greens in regulations or that c) you hit it very close with your approach game.

So while it does not define the cause, it points to options. Which is extremely useful in identifying strengths. The overall average performance of a golfer is 35 putts per round. While Scratch golfers only manage to go down to 31.5 putts per round. As reference, in 2015 the best PGA Tour players was Jordan Spieth with 27.82 putts per round.



GIR% BY HANDICAP BRACKET- Greens in regulation

This stat is where we see the largest difference between a Scratch golfer (57%) and a 25+ Handicap golfer (12%). And GIR is usually the standard for measuring Tee-to-Green ability.

Most people think that a Scratch player is always in regulation, and are surprised with this, since the graph only shows 10.26 greens per round on average for a Scratch golfer. The reality is that Scratch golfers are better because they are good at making up and down and at avoiding disaster scores. Basically because, when they are not in GIR they a) are very likely around the green or, b) if not around the green they can get back on track with less damage done.



FIR% BY HANDICAP BRACKET-Fairways in regulation

“Drive for show putt for dough” – many say. But it does matter being long and accurate. You don’t see that much difference in accuracy from a Scratch to a 25+ handicap. Only 19%, which equates to 3 more fairways on a 14 drivable-hole’s course. But distance wise you typically see a lot of difference in driving.

Additionally, measuring your game can help you identify if you need to work on Distance or if you need to work on Accuracy. If you are above avg. on Accuracy then work on adding Distance, if you are below avg. then work on improving Accuracy.


Get on your bike and book that lesson now 🙂

Happy golfing Nikki xx





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