How many of you have said at least one of these statements?
- “I hit the ball so well on the driving range, I wish I could take my range game to the golf course.”
- “I was sinking everything on the practice green.”
- “My practice swing is perfect.”
How many of you like to practice? Some people do not but realize they should in order to improve. So, if you like to practice or not, you might as well “Practice with a Purpose”.
Hitting a large bucket of balls is probably not practice, exercise, yes, practice…it is according to what you call practice. A good golf practice is working on your golf game as you would on the golf course. How many people have you seen take a bucket of ball, dump them out, grab their driver and start pounding balls? That is not practice… that is taking your frustration out on something. When in a round of golf do you tee up with a driver and do that again for 50 balls? No where! So here are some tips for how to practice with a purpose:
- Stretch your legs, arms, shoulders, and neck. Do some arm rotations, squats, lunges anything to warm up your muscles. Then take practice swings both left-handed and right-handed as this loosens up both sides of your body. Then hit a few half wedge shots and you are ready to go.
- Set your alignment sticks (or a golf club or two) on the ground towards your target, do not say your target is “out there somewhere” pick a target and see if you hit it.
- Use a pre-shot routine (a routine you do the same every time for each shot on the golf course so should be doing each time on the driving range) – pick your club, pick your target, visualize the shot, step up towards the ball, take a practice swing, step up to the ball, look at the target again, exhale and swing. Are you in balance? Did the shot go where you had hoped?
- Pre-shot routine then hit.
- There are two types of practice, 1. Blocked and 2. Random, both have merit. Simply put, Blocked practice is hitting the same club for a group of shots, especially useful if you are trying to work on one specific thing with 1 specific club. Random is changing clubs and targets for each shot or two.
- Go to the putting green, start with shorter putts and work your way back. If possible, flat putts, uphill, downhill and breaking putts.
- Go to the chipping/pitching green and work on all different shots with different clubs to different holes.
- Stay hydrated.
On the range, I like to play 9 holes of a course I know. I take out a scorecard, look at the yardage, picture the hole and play it. For example, I define my fairway on the range, do my pre-shot routine, hit my driver, figure how far I hit it and if it is in the fairway or rough, estimate my yardage to the green, pick whatever club will get me there, do my pre-shot routine, if I missed the green I can chip or pitch my next shot to a target, if I hit it on the green and the putting green is near, I can go hit a putt or two. So you are practicing like you are playing. If the 2nd hole is a par 3 then pick your club for that yardage, do your pre-shot routine and try to hit your green.
If you can chip/pitch and putt onto the same practice green, challenge yourself to see how many golf balls you can get up and down out of 10.
There are different ways to practice which can make it more engaging and fun while actually learning. Doing a pre-shot routine every shot on the course and on the practice facilities makes everyone a better player. Practice like you play gives a whole new way to practice. We are all busy people so make your practice time worth while. I would like to see people eliminate the “hit and rake” practice from there repertoire. You know the one, where people hit a ball and before it lands they are raking another ball over and swinging away. Use a pre-shot routine for each shot – Pick your club, pick your target, visualize the shot, step up towards the ball, take a practice swing, step up to the ball, look at the target again, exhale and swing. I would rather see someone do this for 20 shots than hit a large bucket of balls with no purpose!
Remember, golf is still just a game, keep it fun!!