Golf involves players in situations that require strategy to advance through a round. Focusing on swing mechanics during play often distracts players from this task while offering mixed results.
Advanced players seek to improve upon their execution in multiple situations on the course, not just their swings.
As technology becomes more available, we move away from the important aspects involved with playing the game.
The mindset of most players on the practice tee is different than when they are on the course. The practice tee allows for analysis of shot shapes, swing feels and other mechanical components involved with swinging the club. On course experience engages players in the process of planning, reacting, dealing with emotions, and accepting outcomes. Practicing in an on-course environment provides greater feedback than time spent hitting balls.
I remember great shots I’ve hit during a round. I don’t remember great shots I’ve hit on the practice tee.
A playing lesson is often a more effective tool for evaluating a player’s game than lessons on the practice tee.
Golf allows a player to execute a variety of shots during a round of play. That exercise is more memorable and more effective when it is practiced on the course, not the practice tee.
Imagination and creativity are cultivated during play on the course.
Visualization is a vital aspect in playing golf. Developing it on the course is crucial.
Courses present options requiring a thought process of how to proceed on a hole of play. Better players see several options and approach shots with an open mind engaging their creative resources versus when they are executing a shot on the practice tee.
Consequences resulting from shots played on the course offer vivid pictures to draw from later on.
Engage in “dynamic” practice rather than “static” practice”. Standing on a perfectly flat lie on the practice tee firing balls does little to prepare the mind for the ever-changing lies and elevations encountered on the course of play.
Rather than “dig it out of the dirt”, I propose players should “find it in the fairways” (play as opposed to hitting balls).
Players have experienced the phenomenon of scoring higher but hitting many of their shots solidly. They have also scored low when not hitting the ball well. The difference lies in identifying the true goal of the game — producing a score.
Golf is a game of moving one’s ball around a field of play. It is not a game concerned with the perfection of one’s swing.
The experience of playing with friends on a picture-prefect day often outweighs time spent on the practice tee alone searching for a better swing.
Hitting better golf shots by improving swing mechanics does not guarantee lower scores.
In Scotland, the locals are more interested in who won a match rather than what the competitors scored.
There are an infinite number of ways to make a par.
Golf course architect Gil Hanse recently remarked, “ If we can do things that inspire creativity, inspire thought, more than just muscle memory, that is an aspect of what we try to do.”
Golf is one of few sports where the majority of practice does not take place on the actual field of play.
There are instances where the characteristics and design of a particular hole invite a varying array of shots to be played. That doesn’t happen on the practice tee.
It is not uncommon to see a player go to the practice tee with sixty balls, position himself in the same place and attempt to execute the same shot over and over. During nine or eighteen holes of play it is unlikely a player will encounter the same shot under the same conditions more than one time.
Better players adapt their skill set to the game. Others attempting to mimic positions of tour players, without the physical attributes to do so, may never find a style of play that leads to their best experience.