Here is a statement that I hear all the time…..
“I go to the range and practice twice a week, and I usually hit the ball pretty well, but then I play, and I am terrible!
I just don’t understand it ?, I must just be a great range player, but can’t do it on the course!”
Does this sound familiar ? If so, please read on……..
If you are anything like the average club/social player you believe that you should practice, as everyone tells you that you should, and you feel bad if you don’t get to the range to bash 60 balls before the next round. But are you practicing effectively ? Practice definitely does not make perfect, but it does help make permanent, so if you are practicing bad habits, then you are just ingraining them, not a great recipe for improvement!
For me there are two main types of practice, BLOCK and RANDOM.
99% of golfers tend to block practice, which unless you are working on something specicfic, usually after a golf lesson, then it is not the best way to practice, in my opinion.Don’t get me wrong, if you are working on a new grip, posture, or on any part of the swing, which will have a direct influence on your ability to strike and/or control the golf ball, then block practice is very important, as long as you are focusing on the quality of the session, rather than quantity.Practice drills given by your coach are vital tools in understanding and feeling the new position/movement, and pressure free shots on the range are the way to work on that new action.
The amount of coaching sessions I have taken midweek, having given the pupil one or two (maximum) key points to work on, then seeing the very same player trudging off the course at the weekend, scorecard in pieces, having played in the medal! If you have played this game for any length of time at all, you will have quickly realised that new learnings take TIME, and ideally should be developed in a pressure free way, where there is no end product to worry about (score) or any real consequences to hitting bad shots (lost balls etc..) This is when you should be BLOCK practicing, until you feel you can do what you need to the majority of the time, without too much thought.Then it is time to try things on the course!
Lets compare a practice session to a round of golf, let’s see how similar they are…..
Typical Practice session
A few quick stretches (maybe!)
A few gentle pitches
30 x 7 Iron shots
20 x Driver shots
Maybe finish with a few more wedges
A Typical round of Golf (Dependant on course played and skill level)
Hole 1. Driver,wedge out the rough, 6 iron, bunker shot, putt, putt.
Hole 2. Driver, Fairway wood, 9 iron, putt, putt, putt
Hole 3. Hybrid, bunker shot, putt, putt.
and so on throughout the rest of the round…….
So these are pretty similar aren’t they ???? NO, THEY ARE COMPLETELY DIFFERENT!!!!
The next time you play a round on the course, do exactly what you do on the range!! You will see after hitting yout fifth pitching wedge down the first hole, that it won’t work!
So, why practice in this way? It makes no sense.
I recommend that if you only practice once or twice a week, particularly if you do not take lessons, then you MUST start RANDOM practice.
Its always a good idea to warm up with some stretches (more details in later post) then play a round of golf on the range.Picture yourself playing your home course, or a favourite of yours, even play around Augusta National!
Try not to hit the same club twice in a row, always pick a different target, and go through your usual pre-shot routine that you use on the course.If you hit a slice out to the right, which would have gone into the trees, play the next shot like you would have to, maybe a low chip out, or a big fade with a 5 iron….you get the idea.There is no right or wrong, you choose the shots, use your imagination.
You will also find it will also make the session a lot more FUN, which isn’t it supposed to be fun?!!
You are then lining up your practice sessions the same way you play on the course.It may not make you an Open champion, but you will slowy come away from being just a “Great range player” and start to see some improvement on the actual golf course!
I hope this helps you with your game, any feedback is always appreciated, so please feel free to get in touch,
Mario Luca PGA
Golf City Sports