None of your friends golf, so on your birthday, you decide to gift yourself a win at TopGolf. The food’s great, the drinks are delicious, the Top 40 hits are always blasting, and best of all? You know you’re going to smoke everyone. Win-win!

At least that’s what you think before you take a peek at the scoreboard. Your buddy from college, who’s been hitting with the lefty clubs “just for fun,” is in the lead. How did this happen? And how can you make sure it never happens again?

Why Do Good Golfers Keep Losing at TopGolf?

Look, you’re not just OK at golf, you’re actually pretty good! So why don’t your golf skills translate to TopGolf or even mini-golf? There are actually a few reasons why.

You Focus Too Much on Showing Off

Lighthearted golf-inspired games, like TopGolf and mini-golf, are designed to be accessible to everyone. That’s why in every mini golf hole, you can pick two pathways: you can either aim for that tiny tunnel underneath the swinging windmill or you can avoid it entirely and putt around it. In TopGolf, you have the option of aiming for the nearby targets, which are easier to hit but yield fewer points, or trying to get a big payday on the elusive white or blue targets.

Sure, you’re going to get lucky with a hole-in-one every now and again. But that 8-putt you shot trying to jump the water hazard really hurts your score. Meanwhile, your wife (who consistently 4-putted every hole) thinks she’s the next Tiger Woods because she beat you by a stroke or two. 

If you want to win, you need to stop trying to show off. Everyone knows you’re good at golf, but trying to prove it at the TopGolf range makes you look a little ridiculous (so does bringing your own clubs, FYI). Start prioritizing accuracy over distance. Unless, you know, you’d like to keep losing. I’m sure you’ll hit the back net of the TopGolf range…eventually.

It’s Nothing Like the Driving Range

Most of us feel like kings at the driving range. But how often are you actually aiming for targets? TopGolf seems like it should be just like the range, where you hit zinger after zinger, but it’s really not. Sure, those targets look huge, especially from the top deck. But there’s an awful lot of empty grass, sand traps, and netting to waste a shot into. 

Unlike the driving range, you actually need to aim—you can’t just focus on your form.

3 Tricks To Beat Your Buddies at TopGolf

So you know what you’re doing wrong, but what should you do to make sure you win next time? Try these 3 tricks to rule the scoreboard at TopGolf, whether you’re a Stick or a Hack.

Focus on Your Short Game

You’ll get more points if you focus on hitting the bullseye on close targets instead of landing an outer ring on a faraway target. The pitching wedge is your friend at TopGolf—use it!

Choose a Bay that’s Off-Center

Let’s face it—the red target that’s only 25 yards away is pretty easy to hit, even if you’ve never played golf. Even a good roll can land a mediocre golfer some serious points. If you’re picking bays, choose one that doesn’t have a red target right in front of it. Make it more difficult for your friends to sneak points.

Keep Aiming for the Same Target

One reason you hit so well at the driving range is that you swing the same club over, and over, and over again. After a while, you really get into a rhythm! Use the same strategy next time you play TopGolf. Instead of trying to hit different targets, focus on one that you can realistically hit pretty well and get into a groove with it.

Pro tip: Some games let you choose the target each time, so volunteer to choose the game if you want to use this winning strategy!

The Big Picture

Losing at golf-inspired games doesn’t mean you’re bad at golf. Games like TopGolf are specifically designed to even the playing field. Let’s be honest…that kind of stinks when you’re clearly the best golfer in the group. 

But on the bright side, these games give you an opportunity to get out and do your favorite thing—swinging a golf club—with your favorite people, even though they couldn’t care less about golf. And that’s pretty cool.