Practice Golf with a Purpose

In the March Golf Digest, Jim McLean has a really good article in which he separates golfers into those who would rather practice, and those who only want to play. While the elite players relish both practice and play, many of us choose a side to which Jim McLean offers very good advice.

As for me, I fall squarely in the practice group, as I really enjoy the study of the swing and the opportunity to work on different ideas in a practice frame of mind (which is mostly but not always on the range). The other advantage of being a “practicer” is that you can break sessions into smaller time frames rather than carving out a whole 4 hour block. While there are times when a swing overhaul will dictate that you spend the majority of your time with the same club trying to get a ‘feel’ for a new idea, there are a number of suggestions to help maximize the time you spend practicing. Below are some of Jim’s suggestions, but the over-arching theme is to make  your practice more like playing.

Tips to improve your practice time

1) Try to switch clubs and the type of shot as often as you can.

2) Use a pre-shot routine on the range, and try to ‘play’ different golf holes that you are familiar with in your mind.

3) Try to not hit balls without spending 30 minutes or more chipping and putting.

Practice? Are we talking about practice?

When I’ve been in a playing mode and able to play more than practice, I try to work in some of Jim McLean’s advice as well. One easy way to get a little extra practice in is to simply play a few balls on the same hole (obviously when the course is not crowded). This also goes for putting and chipping where you can take the opportunity to play different types of chip shots and work on some extra putting. You can even go as far as playing two separate balls from the tee and play them as if you were two separate players seeing how you manage the same hole with different strategies.

No matter if you are a practicer or a player, I recommend understanding your nature so that you can make the most out of your time on the course. For another view on this matter, you may be interested in a post Adam wrote called “Embrace the Practice Range”.

Written by Wade Baynham
Single-digit handicap, who learned golf in his early 20′s from my former father-in-law, a long time PGA tour and Champions tour player. I enjoy studying the golf swing and occasionally give golf lessons.