Experience is a 15th Club Says Ko

What Does it Mean to be an Experienced Golfer?

The previous question is an interesting one. 

Does experienced mean longevity? Most people consider an experienced golfer to be someone who has played the game for a long time. Playing for several years is a part of gaining experience.

However, the sports definition of experienced is having knowledge or skill in a particular sport gained over time. 

In that sense, being experienced is more than playing for a long time; it is developing knowledge of how to play the game smarter and learning the intricacies to improve play.

Knowledge is gained by examining your play after a round of golf, identifying what areas need improvement, setting practice objectives, working to develop those areas of your game, then applying those skills in competitive rounds.

Let’s examine two sides of this issue. You played three consecutive bad tournaments scoring six strokes above your scoring average. 

You become more and more frustrated by your play. You solely focus on how bad you played and how bad you feel; that’s all you think.

You learn nothing about your game with this type of reaction. You gain no true experience.

On the other hand, you can gain valuable feedback if you objectively evaluate your performance after the round. 

For example, if you scored two consecutive double bogeys, you may need to improve getting up and down or learning to maintain your composure after an errant shot.

When you identify areas of your game needing improvement and work to better those parts of your game, you gain experience by learning how to play smarter in the future.

Lydia Ko was the top-ranked player in the world in 2017. By 2020, Ko slipped out of the Top 50. Now at the age of 25, Ko has climbed up the ranks to No. 3 with consistent play, including eight top-five finishes in her last 10 LPGA starts.

Ko credits her experience over the years as the difference-maker.

KO: “I do know that I am more experienced now… I do feel a little bit experienced. Wiser? I don’t know about that either, but I am playing differently.”

Experience is learning how to play smarter and more creatively. When you learn to play the game smarter, you have more tools to play consistent golf.

KO: “I think that’s why some players have played on tour for, like, 10, 20 years – that experience is kind of like the 15th club.”

The secret to golf performance is to learn how to adapt and adjust. To gain the experience necessary to compete, you must build your game through experience feedback and work.

Being upset after a bad round is a normal reaction. Even getting frustrated after a few bad performances is understandable.

However, you should never let negative emotional reactions prevent you from gaining feedback from your play.

To gain valuable experience after a round of golf, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What happened in today’s round? What did I learn about myself?
  • What needs to change? What can I improve?
  • How can I improve my reactions to bad shots?
  • What can I do to play better and smarter in the future?

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