What does practice mean to you? If it is going to the range to hit driver for half an hour and putt for five minutes, at least that is better than nothing, but is it really going to make you a better player?
Practice should be planned and thought out to be effective. It should cover the things that you do poorly, not just the things you do well. It should have goals and targets. Lastly, it should have a defined schedule.
Here is an example of a session for a player who is performing well in most parts of the game but is having trouble with bunkers and short putts. The whole session lasts an hour and, for scheduling purposes, let’s say it starts at 6:00 p.m.
6:00 to 6:05 p.m.: Warm up by stretching and hitting a few wedge shots. Work on feeling the muscles stretch and release and making solid contact.
6:05 to 6:25 p.m.: Hit a few shots (10-12) with every iron in the bag from wedge to 4 or 5-iron. Focus on alignment and contact. Use an alignment aid to confirm shot direction.
6:25 to 6:30 p.m.: Hit a few drives with the same focus as irons (alignment and contact). Work with speed and tempo if the driver is not behaving.
6:30 to 6:50 pm.: Bunker shots. Hit shots out of different lies and try to hit different distances. Try to focus on making a good three quarter swing and following through. The easiest thought is “hit the sand onto the green,” Try to get a feel for where the swing “bottoms out” and adjust ball position.
6:50 to 7 p.m.: Clock drill on the practice green with three foot and four foot putts. Try to make 10 in a row or more. Work on keeping your head still and stroke length. You should never see a three foot putt go in the hole. You should hear it.
So there you have it. A planned practice routine that will hopefully help you get better and will make you feel that you have accomplished something on the drive home.
Next week – blogging from the Oak Hill Golf Club at the PGA Championship.
Ian Grant is a PGA teaching professional and a member of the teaching faculty of the PGA of America. He can be contacted at Oak Brook Golf Club 630-990-3032 in the summer and White Pines Golf Dome in Bensenville 630-422-1060 in the winter. You can contact Ian directly at 708-917-8951, or at Iansgolf@aol.com.