How to Recover from a Bad Golf Round

How to Recover from a Bad Round of Golf

We have all had bad golf rounds, whether in tournaments or while playing with friends or family. Sometimes the round just didn’t go as planned. Other times, it’s like a bomb exploded somewhere on the golf course and your score was caught up in the blast. After attempting to save the round by playing a superb final string of holes, you’re left with the damage – a scorecard that is disappointing or at worst, downright frightening. If you stayed in the moment on the golf course and managed to put the bad hole or string of holes behind you, the final score may actually be the first time you’ve come to grips with how bad things actually got out there. To these golfers I would say… you did the right thing. You forgot about it and kept trying to hit the next shot to the best of your ability. However, most of us end up counting the carnage as we go, knowing full well that an 80, 90, or even a 100 is on the horizon if we don’t get things turned around. All of that said, not every bad score is necessarily a “bad” golf round.




First, let’s diagnose whether you actually had a bad round of golf. This is easier to do in a tournament because you have 20-100 other golfers who played the same course as you in the same conditions. If your score is still roughly in line with the “field”, then perhaps the conditions or the course set up (pin locations, green speeds, wind speeds, terrain conditions) were just playing tough for everybody. This happened recently to one of us and you just have to take your medicine when the winds are gusting 40-50mph and the ball will barely stay still on the green long enough to putt. A four-to-five club wind will cause a lot of damage on the scoreboard, and if you don’t judge the wind right or your chipping and putting aren’t completely on, you and most of the field are bound for a disappointing score. Take it in stride and wait for better conditions to accurately assess things before feeling bad.

Second, were there one or two holes during your round that were very uncharacteristic of your game? If you played fairly well all day long and had one or two shots that ended up putting you in nasty positions which caused some really bad scores on a few holes… (and this normally doesn’t happen to you), then perhaps this wasn’t really as bad as it seems. Figure out the cause of the one or two bad holes and make sure to play smarter golf next time. Be content that your overall game was very solid and that a mental error or two cost you big time.

Finally, if you look at your game and you can honestly say that you were a mess in more than one aspect of the game, then you had a bad round. Life’s tough. So what are you going to do about it?

  1. Analyze the round to see what parts of your game caused the most problems.
  2. Tighten up your course management skills to help avoid some of the same pitfalls next time.  (e.g, if your swing is off, play more conservatively.  If your putting is off, stay below the hole on approach shots or chips to make putting just a little easier.
  3. Create a practice plan to help you work on your weaknesses with a focus on the core skills that need improving.  Don’t just practice everything in general.  Build confidence in those areas that let you down so you can trust in them the next time you’re on the course.
  4. Practice under pressure, so you’ll have already felt the stress before you are put under fire on the course.
  5. Go test yourself again in serious or friendly competition.



While some of us have more bad rounds than others, it’s important to keep a positive attitude. Remember all the times that you’ve performed well and maybe freshen up on some of the mental game books like Bob Rotella’s Golf is Not a Game of Perfect. Learn from your mistakes, work to improve your weaknesses and forget about the past round. Golf is not life or death. There’s always the next tournament or the next round. What is important is that you honestly look at your game and see what you need to work on.


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Remember, if you play a few bad rounds in a row, you may need to practice or toughen up mentally. However, if you play 3-5 bad rounds in a row, you should probably get a professional to help straighten you out.

Stay positive and good luck with your next round! Please bookmark us, tell your golf buddies, and subscribe to our RSS feed to be alerted to when we publish new posts.