Late at night, when normal human beings are sleeping, one writer spends literal hours on Reddit Golf, a treasure trove of humor, whining, equipment scores, outright lies and occasionally some great advice. It also led him, once upon a time, to Bucket Hat Guy. Each Friday, he will bring the site’s best content to you, so that you can live a normal life.
One of the most challenging things in any walk of life, golf included, is when you feel like everybody else is catching on faster than you, and that you suck in a more permanent and essential way than everyone you know. I used to feel this way about golf, and in fact felt it for a very long time, but then I broke 80 and now feel like I’m only a few chipping lessons from the PGA Tour. I’m not saying I’d win a major or anything, but I definitely now believe that I could be a beloved journeyman type. However, I took up darts two years ago, and that has now occupied the place in my life where I’m constantly wondering how I can be so ****ing bad at something. I play in an online league with five divisions, and I’m stuck in the lowest division, trying and usually failing to fight my way out. Meanwhile, newer people take it up and seem immediately way better than me, and at least one of my friends who started at the same time is way, way better. It’s DUMB.
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And you know what? It’s really tempting to think everyone else is cheating and/or lying. This week on Reddit Golf, u/zelkoo got fed up with reading about other beginners hitting the course and immediately thriving. In a post titled “Are the so called ‘beginners’ of this sub completely different to what I am as a beginner and what I see other beginners doing on the course?’, he asked:
Everyone here seems to be a golfing prodigy, hitting bombs on a regular basis and breaking 80 two months after starting with golf.
It took me MONTHS to even make solid contact with a club and get some distance. My swing progresses because I take lessons and my instructor is happy with my progress. But here everyone seems to figure everything out straight after starting lol.
I get it, zelkoo—the feeling that some people improve much faster than you is absolutely the worst, and those people deserve to be in prison. Not only that, but this is online, so it’s almost certainly correct that the landscape is populated by a bunch of weirdo liars who puff themselves up for reasons we can’t begin to psychoanalyze. AND YET! It’s also an annoying fact that there are natural athletes out there, or people who aren’t really that athletic who happen to have great golf coordination, and they’re going to be better quicker than the rest of us.
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It’s a true mixed bag, and the top comment, from u/BoxingRaptor (great name) was probably the wisest reply:
Many people vastly overestimate how far/well they hit it, and many more either don’t know how to keep an accurate score, or just willfully make numbers up, because they think it makes them look good to a bunch of Internet randos.
Just play your game, and ignore the noise.
100% right. I also liked this bullseye from u/bonemonkey12:
It’s reddit man, what do you think?
Along with that sagacious advice came some support from the hordes of beginners who also continue to be terrible at golf.
I started going to the driving range a year ago with 0 previous golfing experience. Joined a course, played a few rounds this year, bought a package set and have had a few lessons. Contrary to the others in this sub, I have yet to hit a clean 200 yard drive. I haven’t broke 100 yet. I’ve never had a birdie. Despite all this, I am quite happy with where I’ve got to in a year. Comparison is the thief of joy as they say…
I started golfing this year. I’d swung a club at the range a couple of times before, but never really did anything serious. Never taken lessons. My first 18, I quit keeping score after about 120. It was ugly. Couldn’t hit a driver, lost at least a dozen balls, hit one fairway because I teed off with an iron, and you can forget about a GIR.
Now I hit one in every three drives cleanly and around 230 yards, the other two have a wicked slice and get lost in the woods. Distance isn’t great, but it’s improving. I two putt occasionally, and three putt frequently, but almost never four putt anymore. I chunk and skull more iron shots than I care to admit, but the ball progresses now instead of flying sideways off the toe of the club. I’ve made three honest to God pars, and way fewer triple and quadruple bogeys. My best score over 18 is still only 116.
Hope this helps give you a little more honest perspective on how other beginners are doing.
I started golfing a year ago and today I’m a scratch golfer about join the Korn ferry tour. Is that quick?
….i feel you OP, love this sub but I feel exactly like you sometimes. The progression is all sports now seems crazy tho, kids are becoming prodigy’s out of high school playing at a level most college athletes finish with.
I can make okay contact about 30% of the time. The other 70% is either chunk up enough dirt to make a WW1 trench, top it harder than a pornstar, or missile it so far into the rough that it could be considered an international war crime.
My short game sucks, and the other day I skulled it so hard on the chipping green that it ended up on the first tee box. When I go play a course, I waste enough money on balls to fund another US invasion of the Middle East….So no. There are beginners just as bad if not worse than you on this sub.
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Beyond the support, others cut to the heart of human nature…especially human online nature.
Played with a random who said he had a friend who can hit his pitching wedge 200 yards. The amount of people who just straight up lie is crazy.
Breaking 80 on this sub is the same as breaking 100 legitimately
…everybody here is lying or exaggerating except for you and me… and I’m beginning to wonder about you…
Half of all reddit posts are just weird people practicing their creative writing skills.
The like button as a feature has completely ruined us.
So where does that leave us? Well, some people are definitely lying, but as far as the original poster goes, the fact that it took him “months” to make solid contact means that, yeah, there are unfortunately people that will be legitimately better in a shorter time. That is, as they say, life. And to reuse a phrase that appeared in a couple comments, “comparison is the thief of joy.” If someone’s better than you, who cares? If someone’s lying about being better than you, who cares? What’s beautiful about golf is that you can compete, for a lifetime, against yourself. That’s the only metric for improvement you need, and it’s probably the only one you should seek, since there are always going to be lots and lots of people better than us.
So forget them all, and just go out and have fun. And by “have fun,” I mean continue to get ridiculously angry and frustrated by this game, but do so because you’re a failure and a loser by your own standards, not somebody else’s. When it comes to golf, that’s the one true path.
What do you do when your spouse doesn’t like you playing golf?
Don’t be the range police!
Never pick up a stranger’s ball
This article was originally published on golfdigest.com