How to Recover From a Bad Golf Shot

What do you do when you continually mishit shots? Are you able to recover? Do you know “why” you miss it?

I have never met anyone who tries to miss a golf shot on purpose. I also believe that many people are not aware of the causes and cures of their mishits.

Let’s talk about the 2018 U.S. Women’s Open Championship. On Sunday, Ariya Jutanugarn held a seven-shot lead with only nine holes to play. At the 10th hole, Jutanugarn hit her 3-wood into the hazard off the tee. “After that, I kind of played a little bit scared,” she said. But what could have been one of the worst choke jobs in major championship history was avoided. She was able to right the ship and win in a playoff.

How did she do that? She had experience. Lots of it. When Jutanugarn was 17, she tripled the last hole to lose a tournament in her home country of Thailand. She also lost a two-shot lead in the ANA Inspiration two years ago. Did she learn from those experiences? You bet she did. The more open you are to face the truth of your failures, the better you will become.

Ariya Jutanugarn and caddie, Leslier Luark at the 2018 US Women's Open | Photo: Ben Harpring
Ariya Jutanugarn and caddie, Leslier Luark at the 2018 U.S. Women’s Open | Photo: Ben Harpring for

Did Jutanugarn forget how to swing a golf club on the back nine? Of course not. Do you think maybe she started getting ahead of herself and focusing on the end result instead of the process? I believe maybe, yes. Once she caught herself, she was able to refocus on the task at hand.

I have been teaching golf for quite a while. I love helping people learn to understand why the ball goes where it does and what they have done with the club to cause the ball to go where it does. There really is no opinion in the process. The face of the golf club determines where the ball will go. What you do with the face determines that.

But why do you hit bad golf shots?

There are many reasons. Here are a few:

  • You chose the wrong club. Maybe you don’t know how to factor in the wind, lie, and yardage, or you don’t know how far you hit the golf ball with each of your clubs.
  • You did not aim correctly. Many people believe they should point their shoulders at the target. That is never correct. Your club face needs to point to the target. Your shoulders will point to the left of the target (to the right of the target for left-hand players).
  • You are not committed to the shot you have chosen. The lack of commitment leads you to not make a good swing. Do you take enough time to make a clear decision on the shot you want to hit? Is there ever any doubt in your mind? If you are not committed, you will never make a good swing.
  • You might be more concerned about the end result instead of playing the game. Have you ever added up your score on the front nine and said to yourself, “Wow, I am on my way to a low score!” Then, you play the back nine thinking about how you will shoot your lowest score ever. What happens on the back nine? You play terrible and blow your low score opportunity. Why? Because you were not paying attention to the task at hand. You were trying to shoot a score.

Your thoughts control your actions. If you walk up to hit a shot and have no plan, then you don’t have the right to be upset when you miss it. I suggest you create a personal pre-shot routine. If you plan and prepare to hit a shot, I bet you will be able to produce a good shot. First things first, practice enough to know how far you hit the golf ball with each of your clubs. Write your yardages down. Then try the following steps:

Think About Your Options

  • Where do you want to hit the ball? What is the smartest play for you for this shot given your abilities?
  • What is the yardage?
  • What is the wind doing? With? Against?
  • Do you need to carry a bunker or other hazard?
  • Do you have a good lie?
  • What is the playable yardage?

Then Make the Shot

  • Choose your club.
  • Step behind the ball, pick your target.
  • Walk into the ball, check alignment.
  • Swing!

I guarantee if you take the time to make a plan, you will be prepared and will perform much better.


Article originally published in The Buffalo News on June 16, 2018

Cindy Miller is a former LPGA Tour Player, a current member of The Legends Tour of the LPGA, a Golf Channel Academy Lead Coach, and 2010 LPGA National Teacher of the Year.

Cindy and her husband, Allen Miller are the only married couple in the world who have competed on all four major tours. The PGA TOUR, the LPGA Tour, The Champions Tour, and The Legends Tour.

As a Certified Behavior, Motivation, and Emotional Intelligence Professional Cindy is a highly sought-after speaker, coach, and corporate trainer. She and Allen teach in Buffalo, New York as well as Orlando, Florida.

Follow Cindy at and on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

See all of Cindy’s articles here.

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