How to Practice Productively

There is nothing more frustrating than dedicating hours of your valuable time to hit countless golf balls at the range only to play horrible on the actual course. This scenario is very common and makes a golfer question whether than can actually get better or not. The truth is that golfers DO get better when they know HOW to practice correctly. Quality definitely outweighs quantity when it comes to golf practice. Here are the basics for making your next practice session effective.

1) Go To The Range With A Plan

Start by asking yourself what you want to accomplish from your practice session. It often helps to assess your current golf game and find the weakness that is preventing you from playing your best. Commit that practice session to focusing purely on that weakness. Many golfers often hit their favorite club over and over because they have confidence with it. Check the ego at the door and practice that part of the game that makes your feel uncomfortable.

2) Split Practice Time

Now that you've identified the weakness in your game that you want to work on, you need to split practice between technique, games and simulated play.

Technique- has to deal with the mechanics of the swing. Hopefully you've had a lesson and understand what needs to fixed. Focus on changing elements of the swing through exaggeration, drills and slow motion movement. Where the ball goes does not matter when working on technique. Focus on body and club movement rather than ball flight. Also use feedback such as mirrors, video or training aids. DO NOT make the mistake of spending your whole practice session with a technique mindset.

Games- playing specific games on the range makes a player target oriented and introduces pressure to the scenario. Examples are: how many balls can you hit out of 10 on the green from 100 yards?, how many solid shots can you hit in a row while keeping balance? Can you curve a ball to the left with one shot, then to the right with the next one? Can you hit it high, medium or low with the same club? Etc… Once you've played these games a benchmark has been set, then you try to beat it. Have fun and get creative with games. The mindset with games should be about executing shots, rather than making a technically sound swing.
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Simulated Play- Time to bring the course to the range! Playing good golf is about putting quality shots together with different clubs. Play a pretend 9 holes on the range by choosing random targets and hitting .

Hole # 1: Hit driver, 7 iron, pitch shot, chip shot. Hole #2: Hit 4 iron, chip shot Hole #3: Hit driver, 3 wood, pitching wedge….Make this experience as realistic as possible. Use the same pre-shot routine you would on the course, take a longer time between shots, hit from clean and poor lies, etc. Be aware if your tempo, tension or balance changes as your playing.

3) Keep Track of Progress

After an effective practice session it's important to take notes about the session. It can be as simple as writing down the swing thoughts you had when you were hitting the ball well, or keeping scores for the games you played on the range. You will eventually have a journal of your practice accomplishments and will see measurable progress.

This should give you a better idea of how to spend your time practicing and provide basic structure. I'd also recommend consulting with a PGA Professional to provide a custom practice plan for your goals. They will provide clarity with the technique portion of practice, as well as give you several ideas for games. When done correctly practice becomes fun due to variety and and the internal competition with yourself to get better. You'll be practicing all parts of your game and be a well rounded golfer when it's time to play on the course.