When it comes to golf practice, I’ve found that many people don’t know how to go about it in a way that will help them improve. It takes more than mindlessly hitting balls on the driving range to become a better player. Golf is all about having a well-rounded game so that you can minimize your mistakes. This means putting as much time into your short game as your long game. Some would even argue that shots from 100 yards and in are the most important, since they separate those who can score from those who can’t. It wasn’t until I began playing Division I college golf that I really learned to get the most out of my practice sessions, thanks to my coach who told us that it is important to always have a plan, and to remember that quality is what matters, not quantity. Here are some golfing tips that can help you get the most out of your practice session and improve your golf game.
Step 1: Perfect Your Putting Stroke
It has been said that you can make up for a lot of lost strokes on the putting green. Improving your putting can reduce your handicap by a few strokes. But putting is not all about getting the ball in the hole, it is also about having a solid stroke that you can rely on time after time. Putting aids are extremely helpful when it comes to getting rid of that push or pull. Having a putting stroke that you can repeat every time and that allows you to put end over end roll on the ball (not sidespin) is key. The important thing to remember about putting aids is that you have to find one that you like, and that works for you. If you are annoyed by sticking a string in the ground every time you practice putts, try exploring putting mirrors or other devices. My go-to aid that I keep in my bag at all times is a metal yardstick about one inch wide. To use it, I find a straight, flat putt and set the yardstick down on the line of the putt. I set a ball on one of its dimples on top of the yardstick to give myself about a three foot putt. I then hit the putt, making sure that the ball stays on the ruler all the way until it goes in the hole. This was difficult to do at first since my tendency was to cut across the ball. Now, at the beginning of every practice putting session, I putt on my ruler for five or ten minutes and can keep the ball on it every time. This is how I know that my stroke is straight back and straight through.
Step 2: Chip With Less Golf Balls and Move Around the Green
The biggest mistake I see people making when they practice chipping is staying in one place and scooping balls out of a pile of 100. When you practice chipping, you should simulate what it is like to be on a golf course. This means chipping with 1-3 balls and giving yourself different lies every time. You should practice out of the rough, off of tight lies, in the bunker, off uphill, flat and downhill lies. This will help you be more prepared out on the course when you are faced with a chip. It can also be helpful to play games against yourself or give yourself a drill to complete to avoid boredom or mindless practice. My favorite chipping drill is the 1,2,3,4,5 drill, courtesy of my college coach Sarah Huarte-Glynn at University of San Francisco. For this drill, set up 5 different chips. You will need 5 balls. The first one should be the easiest, and the last one should be the most difficult. Start at the first, easiest chip. Your goal is to chip all 5 within 3 feet. Once you do this, you can move on to the next chip. At the next station, you must chip 4 out of 5 within 3 feet in order to move on. This continues until you get to the last chip where you only have to chip 1 out of 5 within 3 feet. This drill takes a while to complete, but is very satisfying when you do.
Step 3: Create an Achievable Goal for Every Practice Session
Before I start my practice sessions, I like to say to myself, “Ok, by the end of this 2 hours, you are going to get better at wedge shots from 80 yards and in.” Setting goals like this for yourself gives you something to work toward. It also gives you a sense of accomplishment knowing that after 2 hours, even though you didn’t improve a lot of different skills, you got better at one important skill. This way, you avoid mindless practicing and increase your discipline and confidence. If you focus on a different skill every day, soon you will show improvement in many different areas
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