How to Get the Most out of Your Practice and Play
“I hit the ball so well on the range and as soon as I step onto the course, I become a totally different person.”
“My golf game is so inconsistent.”
“I feel so nervous playing in front of other people.”
Any of these phrases sound familiar? For many of you, they unfortunately may be said far too often. The good news is, it’s not your fault! As coaches, we should be here to educate golfers and train them to experience better play. We need to help rid you of this negative speak and show you how to make the most out of your practice and play.
It starts with an understanding of how to practice. There are two main types of practice: one that’s used most of the time and one that SHOULD be used more often.
The first type is technique or body awareness training. This is where a golfer improves his or her skill set. Posture, grip, golf swing, set-up, impact, back-swing and transition improvements can all help to aid in a player’s ability to strike the ball. This is where most players spend 90 percent – if not all – of their time during practice and even on the course. The thing is, this type of training does not translate to lower scores. For most players, there is little if any notice to how the golf ball is reacting. All these players are doing is trying to fix certain movements a golf professional said are needed for improvement. This leads to a perfectionist mindset and LOADS of frustration.
The next major type of practice is play practice. You may also think of this as ‘shot’ training. This IS what produces your score. To prove this point, take a look at the swings on any major tour in the world. There is not one swing that looks identical to the other. Each pro has a different coach and a different system on what makes the golf ball fly straighter and farther. To say that there is one correct swing that makes a golf ball react correctly is naïve.
So, the next question is: how do you tap into this ‘shot-making’ training? It’s quite easy, actually. You need to learn shots. You need to step outside of the cookie cutter golf swing you are always trying to improve upon and learn how to make the golf ball react in different ways. For example: If you slice the golf ball, learn how to hook it! If you hit the ball high the majority of the time, learn to hit it low, really low. Learn how to hit a chip shot with a 6 iron, 8 iron and pitching wedge – not your sand wedge. And most important, learn how to control your speed on the greens! You three putt because of poor distance control, not how you read greens.
Bottom line: begin to educate yourself on how the golf club and golf ball interact with one another, and not how beautiful your golf swing looks. I am not saying that technique should be neglected. In fact, it shouldn’t. However, before you make a change to your golf swing, you need to understand what the change will do to the golf ball. You need to spend the majority of your practice time learning shots: all shots, crazy shots! And not perfect shots. In fact, there is no such thing. You are playing the most imperfect game there is! Once you learn how to control the golf ball better based on the amount of shots you have, your scores will drop. Control the ball, control your score.