Why is Golf So Hard?

Keiser University Questions of the Month:
Why is Golf So Hard?
By Ken Martin, PGA Professional Certified in Instruction
Keiser University College of Golf


As with most topics on golf, whether it is hard to master is a matter of perspective. One view may suggest that golf is not hard; hit the little white ball into the little hole is not really a hard concept. Another view might include an individual’s scoring expectations, which may influence their judgment toward considering the game to be hard. It is most likely that the latter is near consensus, and one might look to the various skill sets required to play the game proficiently as a valid rationale for the opinion.

Golf is hard because it is a game of varying conditions. As it is played outdoors, the weather, ground slope, type and condition of grass and sand, as well as the number and location of water hazards, trees, bunkers, etc., are just a few of the variables affecting play.

Further, golf is hard because of the tools, or clubs used to strike the ball. Chuck Hogan, a renowned golf instructor, once stated that golf, at its essence, is a simple “flat-surface/round-ball game” (Bigelow, 2005). However, the challenge increases because of the way the handle is attached to the flat surface to enable striking a ball that lies on the ground. Golf clubs resemble hockey sticks, but with much less striking surface. This design necessitates considerable skill to swing the golf club in a manner that connects solidly with the ball. Developing such skill can take a considerable amount of time, which may equate to hard for some individuals.

Additionally, golf is hard because every shot requires both direction and distance control. Getting both correct, regardless of playing conditions, requires experience, precise recall, and exacting motor execution. Take an average player required to play a shot over a water hazard from a downhill/sidehill lie on closely mown damp grass to a green that is firm and fast and sloping from right to left and away from the line of play at 150 yards away with a gusting left to right breeze, and most would not have the experience to successfully execute a shot that would finish near the hole. And, most likely, they would rate the experience as hard.  

From another perspective, golf is hard because of the myriad of protocols involved in playing the game. Learning how to make a tee time, understanding what a green fee is, knowing what ball to use, how to fix a ball mark, rake a bunker, drive a golf cart, knowing where to park it, and even when it is their turn to play, along with a lengthy list of etiquette, can certainly complicate the experience.

In conclusion, while golf may be considered hard for the foregoing and other reasons, it might be best to reframe the term to make the game more inviting. What golf poses is a remarkable beguiling challenge; and for those smitten with the intrigue, the game can be enjoyed for a lifetime.


If you’d like to study with Ken Martin and other PGA Master Professionals, contact The College of Golf today.


Bigelow, B. (2005). A pro to the pros preaches simpler approach to golf. Retrieved from