|Effective Practice to Lower Your Scores|
Don’t let your handicap start growing like the grass!
By Jason Rockhold, MBA, PGA
Practice is the most overlooked part of golf. Most people find it a waste of time because they are unable to “take it to the course”. Usually when we go to the driving range, we get a large basket of golf balls (about 70-80) and we grab our driver out of the bag and start smashing away. Shot after shot, we see the ball roll on the ground, popped up right in front of us, slices to the right, and a few shots that go left. We then pull out a couple irons and hit about 10-20 shots with each at a target. One after another, raking the balls over from the pile and hacking away until we start to see a ball flight that we finally like. We finally get into “range rhythm” and start to hit some shots we are happy about. Unfortunately, when you go to the course there are no warm-up shots that don’t get added to your score. Here are a few tips to help connect your practice with your game.
1. Make every practice shot count. Each shot that you take in practice should mimic what you do when you arrive at the ball on the course. There is no time limit on the basket of golf balls that you purchase.(well, except for the closing time of the range) Take your club out of the bag, find the target to aim for, take a couple practice swings, get into your pre-shot routine and hit the shot. Watch the ball all the way to it’s landing and put the club back in your bag.
2. Develop a pre-shot routine. The best golfers in the world make sure that every time they approach a shot they perform the same motions, steps, practice swings, and alignment. This consistency in your pre-shot movements tends to produce a more consistent result. It can be as simple as making two practice swings, picking your target from behind the ball, approaching the ball to with a proper set up, and swing the club. Others can be a little more methodical. I have know some that are as precise as pulling up the sleeve on their shirt every time and performing pre-shot routine takes exactly 12.6 seconds every time. Either type can work wonders as long as it gets you in a clear frame of mind to swing the club.
3. Switch up the shots on the range. How often do you hit a 7-iron 30 times in a row on the course? Even if you take steps 1 and 2 into consideration, you can still get into “range rhythm” if you keep hitting the same shot to the same target. Now this can be helpful if you are working on a swing issue, but for the abundance of practice, changing targets/clubs will allow you to carry over your practice session to the course. Try hitting a different club for your last 25 balls in the bucket. This will help you get better with all your clubs and not fall victim to the “lucky 7-iron” scenario.
These three things are just the start of the benefits of “effective practice”. It is a lot of fun to get out and fire 50 drivers as far as the eye can see. However, to get your scores down, focused range time can be the answer to cutting the grass on your handicap.