Why don’t we practice more?

By Anthony Barkley
NZPGA Professional

Practicing your golf takes time and patience but is one of those important aspects that if done properly will improve your golf. I will emphasize that any golf practice needs to be done well to be effective as over the years I have also seen those that practice almost every day but make no progress or improvements. So what is it that we need to do to make our practice worthwhile?
HAVE SOMETHING TO PRACTICE
You need to have something to practice. Makes sense right, but often people don’t have a purpose for their practice meaning many leave the range feeling frustrated. If this is you, you need to seek advice from your professional or coach to be given correct forms of practice to make improvements for you. The internet will have loads of ideas, drills and advice but there is no individually based guidance that includes body issues to work around, long term swing tendencies or properly set out steps for improvement.
ON COURSE PRACTICE
Is on course practice ok? Yes and no. Obviously to keep your course in good condition and keep angry green keepers of your back, never hit more than two balls while on the course. On course practice is great to fine tune your playing, not to make major swing changes. On course practice should be used as part of your game improvement plan or when you are peaking for a tournament.
CAMERAS
What about using cameras? I think advances in cameras and the fact that most phones have great video capabilities make using these an asset as long as you know what to look for. Again, your coach will guide you here. There are many great free coaching apps available these days and I have many students using ones that talk to each other meaning I can check their swings etc from their own course range. It’s about instant feedback meaning potential quicker gains.
DRIVING RANGES
Should you practice at driving ranges? Yes, if you can’t get to a normal practice range but you have to be more disciplined in your practice as human nature makes us want to smash a drive meaning you can lose focus on why you are there. But, if you have a plan go for it, at least you won’t have to pick up the balls. I myself am not a fan of hitting of mats as it gives you a false sense of impact but often the positives outweigh the negatives.
WHAT IF HITTING BALLS IS BORING?
It takes time to be able to hit lots of balls and I recommend no more than 30-40 balls at a time for this reason. I also suggest you mix your practice up to include some skill based work. Challenge yourself to hit certain golf shots, create a reward if you achieve this challenge and train more like you play. If you love your practice and can be on the range for hours still add some skill based drills as this will help your playing. Just remember that being able to get out of trouble can save a lot of shots per round but do we practice this enough?
QUICKEST WAY TO DECREASE SCORES
What’s the quickest way to decrease scores? Short game work like chipping and putting will improve your score no doubt, but having a very good understanding of your swing will give you confidence to play to your strengths. This is where coaching is going these days I feel. Its about working to control what you have unless you make a considerable commitment to change. Fundamental movement is still key but it doesn’t have to be perfect, just repeatable under pressure.
Seek advice and start your golf improvements. If you would like help planning your practice and have someone keep track of things for you please contact me as for a small fee I can help you. Online video lessons are also a definite possibility so don’t hesitate to talk with me about this: ant@100percentgolf.com
Days are getting longer, weather is getting warmer so it’s time to hit that range and start your improvements.