There are seven Principles for improvement in the PurePlayGolf curriculum. PracticePlay is one of them.
If the desire to improve encourages golfers to practice why are they so poor at it? The majority of players get out to the course 1-3 times per week. The pure enjoyment of golf comes from playing. How many hours are players willing to work at their games? What are their goals for improvement? How do they PracticePlay?
The problem today with practice is twofold. First, many are chasing the elusive “PERFECT” swing. Amateur players watch their favorite pros on TV having their swings dissected by cutting edge technology from every conceivable angle. Let’s make one point very clear; pros play for a living, are finely conditioned physically and work on their practice regimen daily. Amateurs are not in this arena even though at times they imagine they are. Amateurs chasing perfection are doomed to fail.
Secondly, by pursuing this quest to achieve the “PERFECT” swing, golfers never properly learn how to play the game. They assume if they can hit it well they can score. That leads to thinking they can only score if they’re hitting good shots. All of us who have played know there are days when the ball striking is sub-par. It’s crucial to learn how to play when that happens.
The key to improved PracticePlay is to balance time between the practice areas and the course. Obviously for a beginner the first priority is learning to feel a swinging motion and making contact. Once they are comfortable the instructor should engage them in a playing lesson on the course to address the prerequisites for playing golf, common rules, hazards, pace of play, the putting green, care for the course, etc.
The best areas for practice are the putting green and short game chipping/pitching area. If there is a practice bunker incorporated in the setup, all the better. It’s commonly stated shots played within 100 yards of the flagstick account for 70% of all shots during a round. Let’s say your average is 90 strokes for eighteen holes. At least 63 shots in that round will be played within the 100 yard range, 63 shots! Let’s also assume you are a decent putter averaging 34 putts per round. That leaves 29 additional opportunities from wedge distance. Only 27 shots will be played from the teeing ground to the 100 yard marker. Hopefully by studying this example you can see the majority of practice time should be spent in the short game areas.
Of course many will ask about honing their prowess with their long game. This is where you take it to the course. Hitting buckets of balls on perfectly flat surfaces at stationary targets help a bit in the process but the monotony will quickly dull most golfer’s interest. Find those off-peak times when you can get out and play a few holes, maybe hitting a few shots from the fairway or off the tee and engaging in the process of playing the game. On the practice tee you don’t have to play your misses. On the course you do.
I often see players walking up to “Maniac Hill”, dropping their bucket of balls and initiating their session by removing the driver cover. Without a warm up, an alignment aid or a well thought out plan they whack balls all over the place, unaware of their shot pattern. As long as they’ve hammered one or two balls they feel their practice session produced good results. If I had a dollar for every time I witnessed this exercise I’d have my own plane.
Another consideration is quantity versus quality. Ever have an outstanding twenty minute practice session? How about a dreadful two hour range experience? Both are possible, it’s just that one occurs more often than the other. Guess which one?
You can hit putts for twenty minutes and walk away with time well spent. Some of us only have a few minutes. Don’t get tied into thinking more time and more shots struck is necessarily a better routine. When a session doesn’t go the way you want it’s best to walk away. Why imbed bad thoughts? Tomorrow is another day.
When playing the course, whether alone or with others keep a “path” score. Track where your tee shots go, where your approaches land, how many putts you take, penalty shots and short shots around the green. Over a few rounds you’ll begin to see patterns of play that can be addressed. You’ll also get used to training your eyes and your mind to commit to shots. Golf is a process and better understanding how the process works through more effective PracticePlay will lead to an improved game.
One key to remember is each player’s practice routine, like their swing, is their own. With that said I am a strong believer in the simple notion that if a person wants to play better, they should spend more time on the golf course. The playing process is more memorable and produces better learning experiences.
It is widely known Ben Hogan spent many hours on the practice tee beating balls. He admitted he dug his swing out of the dirt. Yet in his only appearance in the Open Championship Hogan played several practice rounds often playing two balls off the tee to determine the proper line of play. Reportedly he arrived in Scotland two weeks prior to the tournament in order to prepare. Spending more time hitting balls than playing would not have acclimated him to a course he’d never played, firm turf he’d never hit from, plus winds he’d never encountered. His PracticePlay focused more on the process at hand. Hogan won his only Open Championship by four shots.
If you aren’t maximizing your practice time let PurePlayGolf help design a more meaningful way to work on your game. PracticePlay is merely one of seven Principles that can improve your game. Visit my website at http://getpureplaygolf.com for more resources.