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Opinion & Analysis

When Golf Isn’t Fun Anymore



I was just finishing a lesson with one of my most talented junior players, a 12-year-old girl who has won most every tournament she’s entered. She posed a question that I could not answer on the spot.

This game is supposed to be fun, right?” she asked. “I don’t feel like I’m having fun anymore.”

“Let me give that some thought,” I said. “When you come back for your next lesson, I’ll have an answer for you.”

When she returned the following week, I had written down my thoughts on a piece of paper. We sat down on a nearby bench.

“I’d like to read to you,” I said. “Are you ready?” She nodded enthusiastically.

“First, I think that as you started to win, what you would previously defined as FUN was replaced by SATISFACTION,” I told her. “This is what great players feel when they have reached an achievement. What happens is that as players move from beginner to expert, they define their experience differently.” I leaned over and showed her the graphic that I had drawn.


100    90     80    75    70    65


“Do you see that at a certain point fun is replaced by satisfaction?” I said.

“Yes,” she replied.

“What happens is there is a cross-over point in the mind of players,” I said. “As they become more serious about the game, their expectations increase. Second, beginners have no expectations when it comes to score. They are simply playing the game for entertainment. Beginning players may have fun because they have no expectation for performance. Third… and here is the last point. Perfection is not achievable. The vast majority of the shots you will hit in a round are serviceable misses. There are only one or two perfect shots per round. A player who insists on perfection can’t enjoy the game.” I paused for a moment to let the final point sink in.

“What do you enjoy about the game, “ she asked.

“That’s a fair question,” I said. “I enjoy the feeling of a solid shot as it strikes the club face; I enjoy the company of the other players in the group; I enjoy the sights and sounds of nature; I enjoy the fresh air and exercise. I could name more, but that’s a good start.”

I continued on: “I’m thinking that you have been so focused on improving your score and winning that you have lost sight of the more enjoyable parts of the game. You might find you are having more fun when you change your approach.

She corrected me: “You mean enjoyment?”

“Yes, thank you,” I said. “I meant to say enjoyment.”

“Did I succeed in answering your question?” I asked.

“You did,” she said. “Thank you.”

“Great,” I said. “Now let’s get back to work.”

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As a teacher, Rod Lidenberg reached the pinnacle of his career when he was named to GOLF Magazine's "Top 100" Teachers in America. The PGA Master Professional and three-time Minnesota PGA "Teacher of the Year" has over his forty-five year career, worked with a variety of players from beginners to tour professionals. He especially enjoys training elite junior players, many who have gone on to earn scholarships at top colleges around the country, in addition to winning several national amateur championships. Lidenberg maintains an active schedule teaching at Bluff Creek Golf Course Chanhassen, Minnesota, in the summer and The Golf Zone, Chaska, Minnesota, in the winter months. As a player, he competed in two USGA Public Links Championships; the first in Dallas, Texas, and the second in Phoenix, Arizona, where he finished among the top 40. He also entertained thousands of fans playing in a series of three exhibition matches beginning in 1972, at his home course, Edgewood G.C. in Fargo, North Dakota, where he played consecutive years with Doug Sanders, Lee Trevino and Laura Baugh. As an author, he has a number of books in various stages of development, the first of which will be published this fall entitled "I Knew Patty Berg." In Fall 2017, he will be launching a new Phoenix-based instruction business that will feature first-time-ever TREATMENT OF THE YIPS.



  1. David

    Feb 26, 2018 at 2:17 pm

    Really Really good article! Same predicament with my son. So hard to teach kids to find their enjoyment in certain things. For me, the enjoyment always came from “the idea of the possible”. Which is why I love golf. It is “possible” I can step on the course and shoot in the 70’s. It is “possible” I can knock this 6 iron from 190 out within 10 feet. It is possible I can bomb this drive 300 dead center… It is possible……

    Granted I fail more than I succeed but the idea of the possible is what I love about sports.

  2. Bob Jones

    Feb 26, 2018 at 1:11 pm

    You could ask her when golf was fun, what were the fun parts? Maybe you just forgot about them and you can go back to having fun in those ways. Or maybe she could think of new ways to have fun. Have her play a round with three clubs and a putter. Or play a round with the fewest putts she can (Hint: deliberately miss greens and get up and downs). Etc. Does she ever play a round just to enjoy it, or is playing always part of an improvement project?

    • laura

      Feb 26, 2018 at 4:54 pm

      … or is he grooming her to be a LPGA player so he can brag about his success?!!

  3. Jack

    Feb 25, 2018 at 9:10 pm

    No matter how you put it through rose colored glasses, it’s still a job. When it becomes more like a job it’s less fun for more people. But, when they realize they get to play what they love (there’s pressure to perform in every profession, though less than pro sports in most jobs). It’s usually the pressure to perform (and thus author’s spot on analysis of the chase of perfection) that gets to golfers.

  4. James Makkyla

    Feb 25, 2018 at 5:38 pm

    Totally unbelievably in my experience and self serving. Particularly you choice of getting back “to work”. Fail

  5. Kevin

    Feb 25, 2018 at 3:32 pm

    And you handeled that situation with a “perfect shot” sir. Sometimes this game can be very mean in many ways but the overall fulfillment outweighs the negative. Im sure you created a lifelong golfer by showing her there is way more to the game then just the score. Great work coach!!

    • DF

      Feb 25, 2018 at 8:32 pm

      She wanted continuous “fun” to satisfy her desire to be perfect. When she flubbed a shot she felt unhappy and that’s not fun.
      What Lidenburg didn’t know was Dr. Freud’s “Pleasure Principle”as it applies to children.
      In Freudian psychoanalysis, the pleasure principle is the instinctive seeking of pleasure and avoiding of pain in order to satisfy biological and psychological needs. It’s also called “instant gratification”.
      What he did was attempt to suppress the child’s natural instincts thus creating a neurotic condition in her innocent mind. Her natural mind is warped by an adult.
      “performance” occurs during the game and the “satisfaction” is delayed and even denied any
      Competitive adults can deny “fun” gratification until the end of the competition. Watch tour pros suffering as they close in on the final back nine. They only take pleasure when they win.

      • CB

        Feb 26, 2018 at 1:08 pm

        No, that’s not it.
        At first, it’s the sheer joy of being slap-happy, just hitting balls. And then you wake up one day and realize, “I have to score?”
        Then the rules set in.
        Then you realize, to score Par, and then go low, you have to put more time in, and it’s not just about being slap-happy any more.
        It has nothing to do with satisfaction. It’s about not getting the results in a game that actually has rules, a game that has a scoring system that requires every ounce of your skills to get at that score, which is a very difficult thing to do, and overcoming that difficulty is hard, and hard is never fun.
        Until, you finally overcome that, and it feels OK for a second – and then you realize you have to beat everybody else at it, than just beating the scorecard, and that’s even harder.
        And for some, if that doesn’t come easy, then it’s not fun.

  6. Mj

    Feb 25, 2018 at 3:31 pm

    Score matters to everyone who is competitive

  7. farmer

    Feb 25, 2018 at 1:34 pm

    “Great, I said. Now let’s get back to work.” Maybe a better response would be, “Great, let’s go PLAY some golf.”.

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Opinion & Analysis

How valuable is hitting the fairway, really?



Hitting more than 50 percent of fairways has long been considered a good goal for amateur golfers. The winners on the PGA Tour tend to hit 70 percent. I have long maintained, however, that it is not the number of fairways HIT that matters. Instead, it is the relative severity of fairways MISSED.

Think about it. By the one-dimensional Fairways Hit stat, every miss is the same. A perfect lie in the first cut is exactly the same as a drive in a hazard… or even OB. There is nothing in the 650+ PGA Tour stats about this. In all, there are 60 stats in seven categories that relate to driving performance, but none about penalties! Like PGA Tour players don’t make any?

Let’s see exactly how important the old tried-and-true Driving Accuracy (Percentage of Fairways Hit) really is. To test it, I used two data clusters: the 2017 PGA Tour season (14,845 ShotLink rounds) and my database for the average male golfer (15 to 19 handicappers – 4,027 rounds).

For the graph below, I started with the No. 1-ranked player in the Driving Accuracy category: Ryan Armour. He certainly was accurate by this measure, but why did he only rank 100th in 2017 Strokes Gained Off the Tee with a barely positive 0.020?

Next I looked at the actual top-5 PGA Tour money winners (J. Thomas, J Spieth, D. Johnson, H. Matsuyama and J. Rohm), the 2017 PGA Tour average, and all PGA Tour players that missed the cut in 2017. We all know the significant scoring differences between these three categories of players, but it’s difficult to see a meaningful difference in the fairways hit. They’re not even separated by half a fairway. How important could this stat be?

For those that have not tried, our analysis includes Strokes Gained and Relative Handicap comparisons. That enables users to easily differentiate between FIVE MISS categories below based upon severity. The final three categories are what we consider to be Driving Errors:

  1. Good lie/Opportunity: One can easily accomplish their next goal of a GIR or advancement on a par-5.
  2. Poor Lie/Opportunity: One could accomplish the next goal, but it will require a very good shot.
  3. No Shot: Requires an advancement to return to normal play.
  4. Penalty-1: Penalty with a drop.
  5. OB/Lost: Stroke and distance penalty, or shot replayed with a stroke penalty.

As we are fortunate enough to work with several PGA Tour players at Shot by Shot, we have access to ShotLink data and can provide those clients with the same valuable insight.

Let’s see how the frequency and severity of driving errors relates to the above groups of players (removing Mr. Armour, as he simply helped us prove the irrelevance of Driving Accuracy). The graphs below display the number of Driving Errors per round and the Average Cost Per Error. Note the strong and consistent correlation between the number and the cost of errors at each of the four levels of performance.

Finally, the average cost of the errors is heavily driven by the three degrees of severity outlined above (No Shot, Penalty, OB/Lost). The graph below compares the relative number and cost of the three types of errors for the average golfer and PGA Tour players. The major difference is that PGA Tour players do not seem to have a proper share of OB/Lost penalties. I found only TWO in the 14,000+ ShotLink rounds. While I accept that the most severe faux pas are significantly less frequent on the PGA Tour, I also believe there must have been more than two.

Why so few? First and foremost, PGA Tour players REALLY ARE good. Next, the galleries stop a lot of the wayward shots. And finally, I believe that many of the ShotLink volunteer data collectors may not actually know or care about the difference between a Penalty and OB/Lost.

Author’s Note: If you want to know your Strokes Gained Off the Tee (Driving) and exactly how important your fairways and the misses are, log onto for a 1-Round FREE Trial.

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Opinion & Analysis

Yo GolfWRX: “Are you betting on Tiger Woods to win the Masters?” (Bonus: A March Madness-inspired shot attempt)



Equipment expert Brian Knudson and Editor Andrew Tursky discuss a variety of topics including Tiger Woods being the favorite at The Masters. Also, a Fujikura Pro 2.0 shaft unboxing, Knudson paints the new TG2 studio, and Tursky tries to go viral during March Madness season.

Enjoy the video below!

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Opinion & Analysis

Tiger shoots opening-round 68 at Bay Hill, is now the Masters betting favorite



It’s happening. Tiger Woods is playing good golf, and the Masters hype train is full-steam ahead. After opening at 100-1 odds to win the Masters, Tiger is now the favorite to win at Augusta in 2018, according to Jeff Sherman, an oddsmaker for (according to his Twitter bio).

After 9 holes (he started on the back nine) at the 2018 Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill — where Tiger has won eight times — he was sitting at 3-under par. What also happened at that time was Sherman updated Tiger as the favorite to win the Masters. Clearly, bettors and Tiger fans had seen all they needed to see in order to put their money down on him winning another Green Jacket in 2018.

Related: See the clubs in Tiger’s bag

On the course’s third hole, however, with water looming left, Tiger hit a foul ball with a 3-wood off the tee and later realized the shot had gone out-of-bounds. Tiger was hot under the collar after hearing the news, and he threw his 3-wood headcover backwards in disgust as he started walking back to the tee to reload. He salvaged double-bogey, and he then made three more birdies coming home to complete his 4-under par round of 68; one of the birdies was a 71-footer after which all Tiger could do was smile.

Woods currently sits in a tie for fifth place, just two shots behind the leader Henrik Stenson.

Can Tiger win at Bay Hill for the ninth time? Will you bet on Tiger as the favorite to win at the Masters? Will Tiger win the Masters?

The questions above would have seemed ridiculous to ask just a month ago, but they’re now legitimate. Welcome back to the spotlight, Tiger.

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19th Hole