Before all the tennis players get up in arms about this statement, I am talking about initially learning to hit the ball. I am not talking about how long it takes to become an accomplished player.
Over the years I have worked with several tennis professionals that also play golf and we have discussed this subject at length, so it is not just my opinion, but a consensus of opinions.
Why it’s more difficult
There are several reasons that people struggle with golf more initially and the first is that the ball sits still. On the surface it would seem that golf should be easier for that reason, but it really does make it more difficult. Because the tennis ball is in motion it becomes a reaction sport. It’s like if someone tosses an object at you face, you will instinctively put your hand up to block it. You don’t think- you simply react.
In golf the ball sits still which gives you time to think and thinking isn’t good. It causes you to trying to control a complex motion with your conscious mind which is extremely difficult, if not impossible. Most people would probably do better if we just rolled the ball across the ground and let them hit it while it’s moving.
Combine the ball sitting still with the fact that it also sits on the ground adds to the difficulty. You are not trying to get a tennis ball off the ground. You are simply trying to make contact and return it. This is also what you should be trying to do in golf, but your natural instinct is to lift it. I recommend that golfers tee the ball up initially until they can gradually lower it to the ground. Consciously trying to get the ball in the air just adds to the difficulty.
The other factor is the grip. People are much more comfortable gripping a tennis racket because it fits in the palm of their hand. A golf club is designed to be held by the fingers which is uncomfortable. This is the reason I recommend using a “baseball” or ten finger grip for people just starting out. Over the years there have been some very good ball strikers that used the ten finger grip.
What you can do
The best thing you can do is to try thinking less. I can’t tell you how many golfers I’ve seen over the years with descent practice swings and then stand over the ball and go through a mental checklist. By the time they are through there is no possible way to make a smooth, athletic motion.
Just concentrate on where you want the ball to go and let your hand-eye coordination do the rest.
Here is a short video that I would highly recommend for beginners and will also provide major benefits for any struggling golfer.