7 Biggest Mistakes Women Golfers Make

Top 50 coach Katie Dawkins shares the most common mistakes that women golfers make

Golf Monthly Top 50 Coach demonstrating poor posture and standing in a bunker
(Image credit: Tom Miles)

Let's begin by stating that men and women are physically different. The general rule is that women don't have the same power. We often think, react and operate differently. Here are the most common traits that I've seen in female pupils.

1. Lacklustre posture

Golf Monthly Top 50 Coach Katie Dawkins demonstrating a good and bad posture

A bad posture (left) will cause an array of swing faults. Get more athletic (right)

(Image credit: Tom Miles)

Not enough women set up in an athletic manner. They arrive for a lesson with their bottoms tucked in like they’re hiding them away. This leads to power-sapping swing faults, including over-swinging, collapsing, casting, scooping at impact, etc. When I coach them into the correct athletic position, they feel as though they are sticking their bottoms out. 

So, to fix your golf swing posture, get the weight on the balls of your feet and don’t be shy to give your bottom a mini shake. No one else will notice. It will make you smile internally and support a far more powerful action. As if by magic, it will fix a number of issues in your game. Want to impact this behind the scenes? Start working out, gaining strength in your bottom especially will enable you to maintain an athletic posture.

2. Bunker play

Golf Monthly Top 50 Coach Katie Dawkins hitting a bunker shot

There's no reason women can't become excellent bunker players

(Image credit: Tom Miles)

One of the top mistakes I hear about is poor bunker play. But why? Women aren’t incapable of learning how to play bunker shots. In fact I know some who are heroines out of the sand. What often causes the struggle is poor positioning of the top hand in the grip. We just aren’t as strong in our hands as guys. 

The club is held at the very end and more in the palm which locks the wrist hinge out and causes a big issue. Look at the best female players out there - Nelly Korda for example. She demonstrates incredible wrist hinge, which she holds onto until the last moment when she “cracks the whip” through impact, generating substantial clubhead speed and power. 

If you aren’t hinging your wrists, then you will have to make up for this lack of energy in another way, often by a collapse in the arm to get to the top of the swing (overswing) and then a throwing of the club (casting) at the ball. Neither are efficient moves and can leave you exhausted and puzzled at the lack of distance. So, check your grip, settle the club in your fingers and get swishing! 

3. Using hand-me-down clubs

It’s generally beginners rather than experienced players that might use clubs found in a garage or handed down. These clubs are often too long and too heavy, or sometimes too short and too light. If you're wondering how to choose golf clubs, it is worth getting fitted and at least investing in a driver that is suited to your strength and clubhead speed.

4. Too many swing thoughts

All golfers are guilty of overthinking the movement of the golf swing. All that theory often stunts the ability to just swing the club. Women have come for a lesson with a 6-point checklist. Would you think about the part of your body that you are moving as you walk down the stairs? No. Even the tap-the-head-and-rub-your-stomach trick is hard. So, streamline your set-up, get into the best possible address position and then allow only one thought. Keep it simple. Have a lesson if you need a fresh start and a re-programme. 

5. Realistic expectations

Golf Monthly Top 50 Coach Katie Dawkins hitting a shot at Essendon Golf Club

Be realistic on the course. You're more likely to improve and enjoy the game more

(Image credit: Kevin Murray)

We all live busy lives, but I’d say that as a woman I am constantly multitasking and juggling. Enter into this huge life events and your focus will be affected. I taught a pupil who rocked up on the range and said: “I just can’t work out why my golf has gone off. Last Tuesday I dropped my husband at his chemotherapy appointment and rushed to the club. I played like a drain. I can’t string a score together at the moment and it’s so frustrating.” I asked her to rewind and re-set and listen to what she’d just said. 

We expect to be competent in everything all of the time. Being kind to ourselves would be a good start and perhaps when times are tough, lowering expectations on the course and accepting golf for what you need it to be - a break, fresh air, support from your friends and some headspace. Golf isn’t life or death and every now and again we need some perspective. 

6. Feeling You Have To Fit In

Golf Monthly Top 50 Coach Katie Dawkins and Golf Monthly writer Mark Townsend

Seek out the format of the game that's going to bring you the most enjoyment 

(Image credit: Tom Miles)

As a female golfer there is often the perception that golf means being a member of a golf club, playing 18 holes with a card in your hand and taking it fairly seriously. I often see a huge flood of relief when I tell pupils they don’t need to play that kind of golf. It suits many, but if it doesn’t suit you, then opt to play your game. 

Find a version of golf that makes you happy, fits into your lifestyle and gives you positive vibes. For example, this may mean being part of UKWGC run by Jazzy Golfer, meeting up to hit balls on the range and having fun. It may mean gaining a handicap over 9 holes. There are so many options available these days and you should never feel under pressure to conform.

7. 'Keep your head down'

Golf Monthly Top 50 Coach Katie Dawkins hitting a driver

Get your chin up at address and you'll be able to generate more power

(Image credit: Tom Miles)

This is heard in probably 1 in 3 lessons that I give to female golfers. Usually it’s advice that their other halves helpfully give on a regular basis. The problem this causes is a chin in the chest and you could balance a tray on the back of some peoples’ necks. This totally crucifies the chance of making a decent shoulder turn and gaining power.

Often the backswing collapses and the swing is powered by the arms and not the body. So, get your chin up, as if looking over the net on a tennis court. This will free up your posture and your power. Rather than keep your head down, think more about hitting what’s underneath the ball, and stay lower for longer. No need to peek up to see where the ball has gone, as with your chin up you’ll turn through and demonstrate a beautiful full photo finish.

As I said at the beginning, it is not only women that demonstrate these traits, but they do crop up too often to be coincidence. If you are struggling with your game, then seek advice from a PGA professional. Often your golfing pals or many of the amazing Facebook support groups can recommend someone who you’ll click with to unlock the golf of your dreams.

Katie Dawkins
Advanced PGA Professional and freelance contributor

Katie is an Advanced PGA professional with over 20 years of coaching experience. She helps golfers of every age and ability to be the best versions of themselves. In January 2022 she was named as one of Golf Monthly's Top 50 Coaches.

Katie coaches the individual and uses her vast experience in technique, psychology and golf fitness to fix problems in a logical manner that is effective - she makes golf simple. Katie is now based at the stunning Hamptworth Golf Club on the edge of the New Forest. An experienced club coach, she developed GardenGOLF during lockdown and as well as coaching at Hamptworth she freelances, operating via pop-up clinics and travelling to clients homes to help them use their space to improve. 

She has coached tour pros on both LET tour and the Challenge Tour as well as introduced many a beginner to the game. 

Katie has been writing instructional content for magazines for 20 years. Her creative approach to writing is fuelled by her sideline as an artist.