Practice Routines

Published 30/09/2008 20:15:36

The best time to increase the time you devote to practice is when you're playing well. Do so when you're in a bad spell, and the likelihood is that you'll ingrain a swing fault even more deeply. Conversely, extra practice when you are playing well will build pluses into your muscle memory.


This is one reason why tour professionals spend so much time on the practice range. As the pressure rises during competitive play, they want the muscle memory and confidence in their technique which enables them to play shots without conscious thought.


On the practice ground, you, and indeed the pros, may have one of the following objectives in mind:

  • Attempting to improve weak areas in your shot play
  • Trying to polish and hone the skills you already have.

Of course, you could be trying to achieve both ends, but this depends on how much time you have to spare for practice. If your time is limited, it is probably sensible to concentrate on one objective or the other.


One way to organise your practice is to go through the bag from club to club. Start gently, working through the short irons, and right up to the driver, as you achieve satisfactory results with each club.


Always choose a target, and especially when you are using the driver, don't make length your main aim. You are driving well when you can target your drives, and are hitting a consistent distance so that your practice shots are all coming to rest within quite a small area of the practice ground.

Unless you have some compelling reason, don't spend more time with the driver than you do pitching. Remember - if you are playing a steady game, the ability to play short irons close to the flag consistently will save far more shots than being able to drive a few extra yards.


Whichever club you are using, pause before each shot to think about what you are trying to achieve. Never hit ball after ball mindlessly, that's not practice - it's merely exercise.


Always give great consideration to the shape of your shot and learn how to fade and draw the ball, and how to hit high and low.


Don't hit everything from the tee peg, or nudge your ball into a perfect lie. Encourage accurate striking by tramping your ball down a little, now and then - and don't forget to see how your ball travels from flying lies.


Out on the course, you will be playing some shots from deep and semi-rough. Many players only learn what they can achieve from these positions slowly from experience during play. Why not gain this experience on the practice ground?


How long should you practice? The main governing factor could be the length of time your interest endures, and that could change from day to day. Little will be achieved if you are not keenly interested in the result of each shot you play on the practice ground.

The less interested you are, the farther away you are from the real world of competitive golf on the course, whatever form it may take. Half an hour of peak effort and concentration is worth two hours of mindless, repetitive hitting.


Take notice of the fitness of your body - golf might not seem like the most taxing of games on the body but it does stress parts such as the spine, hands, wrists, elbows and even knees. Just look at iIger Woods' high profile injury this season - a direct result of his high-impact golf swing.


If you warm up, you'll play better - it's that simple. Before going the first tee, swishing the driver a few times and hoping it goes 300 yards, why not take the time to warm up properly by taking a few practice shots? The aim isn't to practice your swing so much as to get the feel for each club. You've done the hard work in practice - now let the muscle memory kick in and relax.

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