Golfers come to our school for one, three or five days, or for and
individual lesson. They discover what they need to do to improve their
game, and then they go home. I always wonder if they are going to practice
what they have learned. If they do, they will improve, if they don’t they
will fall back into their old “bad” habits. You get out of this game what
you put into it. Once you’ve committed to improving your game, you need a
practice strategy to get that handicap down.
Most golfers spend many wasted hours hitting ball after ball on the range
and never getting any better. This section will focus on two very distinct
sessions you can use when you go to the range.
The 1st session we’ll call swing practice. Keep a goal in mind as you
practice, for example, making a better turn, eliminating swaying off the
ball, working on your plane, etc. Once you have set your goal, don’t be a
“ball beater”; hitting ball after ball over a period of time. Take some
time. If you know the flaw in your swing, go through the correct procedure
in slow motion so you can feel so you can feel the right move. If you
don’t know what your flaw is, get some professional advice. It’s very
tough to correct something if you don’t know what you’re doing wrong. It’s
like a person doing brain surgery while he is reading the instruction
When you are working on your swing, change clubs every 4 or 5 balls. When
I’m doing a practice session, I like to hit all the even numbered clubs
one day and the odd numbered clubs the next session. Don’t reach for your
favorite club and hit all 50, or so, balls with it. The problem with this
type of practice is that it does not prepare you for playing the course.
When you are on the course and faced with a shot using a club you are not
comfortable with, you begin to doubt your abilities with that club. The
odds of making that shot are not very good.
While you are working on your swing you need to be paying attention to
fundamentals such as grip, set-up and alignment. If you cannot master
these pre-shot fundamentals, you will not be able to swing correctly.
Find yourself a good practice station. Lay down clubs for foot line, club
head path and ball position. Make sure your practice session is aligned
towards a target. You should always be aiming toward a target. Change your
target during the course of the practice session so you don’t get
comfortable with just one target.
Imagine you’ve worked on your swing and ironed out your problem(s). Many
golfers say to me, “I do fine on the range, but when I go to the course it
never works”. The second part of your session should eliminate that
problem; it’s called “play practice”.
In your “play practice” you need to keep one swing thought in your head
and play a course you are familiar with. What you are really doing is
simulating play on the course.
For example, say your first hole is a par 4, 375 yards with water along
the left side of the fairway. Use your Imagination here and set up and hit
your tee shot. Put your driver down and wait at least 30 seconds. Let’s
pretend you have 175 yards left to get to the green. See the shot in your
imagination as you stand behind the ball and visualize the ball going
through the air to the pin. Make the shot. Now let’s pretend you hit that
shot a little fat and you’ve come up 30 yards short. There’s a bunker
between your ball and the pin. After your 30 second wait, take your sand
wedge and try a few practice swings for feel. Now imagine that little lob
shot going over the bunker and settling next to the hole. Your play
practice has taken you through a hole on the course.
Your next hole is a par 5 of 540 yards. Use the same strategy and “play
practice” the hole. You have to use your imagination to make the driving
range your golf course. This “play practice” will make practicing more fun
and you will be able to take your game to the real golf course because you
already practiced it on your “driving course range.”
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