Golfing is an incredible hobby that is enjoyed by many. Whether you are a beginner or experienced golfer, practicing at home and on the range can be very beneficial. The golf swing is such an important part of playing better and having fun at golf. If a couple of things are done correctly, it can really help your game.
Perhaps you’re looking to improve your game, or maybe you’re a beginner who’s trying to get into the sport. Home practice is just as important as time spent on the range and course. But where do you start? These 6 drills can help you make more consistent contact, reduce hooking and slicing, and improve your confidence with your irons.
People who play sports on a regular basis know how important practicing is. But, in golf many people overlook the importance of practicing and what it really means to improve their game. A lot of golfers think that just going out and hitting balls on the driving range will somehow lead to them lower the scores.
So, you’ve just finished a round of golf and your new hand-eye coordination is telling you that you’re ready to kick butt at it. Ever since you were a kid, you’ve been able to picture yourself out on the green and giving your friends a run for their money.
Unfortunately, like all professional athletes, golf takes time and some serious practice to really become top-notch and start turning all that fun picture practice into real world results. That’s right, there will still be days when you miss easy putts or go over the edge of the bunker because of “positioning issues”. However, there is no reason why every round shouldn’t be getting better at some point. The question is: how are we going to improve?
1 Practice plan
Always have a practice plan. This is especially true if you’re looking to improve your game. You don’t need to spend every morning on the course. Although, if you have time and a willingness, then by all means get out there and play.
It’s extremely important to have a grasp of the basics before you have any intent of approaching the practice facility. Take the time to learn what it feels like to hit certain shots, and where the ball will fly when you hit it with different clubs.
It can be very helpful in helping you to build upon your skill level. By knowing how long you plan to practice and selecting the right practice space will help to make your time more efficient and effective.
The second part of your practice should be traditional range balls. When you get to the range start with easy shots like the half wedge and full wedge. These help to develop your touch and allow you to focus on making a good solid contact with the golf ball.
If you’re a beginner, it is always best to start with the basics. That means doing things correctly and eliminating any bad habits before they lead to an injury. If you are an intermediate or advanced player, don’t get stuck in practicing the same things over and over again without progression.
Practice is the best way to fully grasp the fundamentals and to acquire a sound technique. Learning by doing is much more effective than learning about it. And as I wrote before: practice does not make perfect. It makes permanent! So don’t be sloppy with your fundamentals. Make sure you have learned them correctly, and then apply them in your practice routine.
2 Practice your favorite shots
Really? Are you joking? Practice the shots you use most? The one’s that win you the most money? Are you going to pass on this sage advice. Surely not.
That’s a good place to start, but what hole can you play over and over? When I was on the mini tour, we had limited practice time when traveling and staying in hotels. We would always try to find a par 3 within the range of 100 yards that we could practice our shots. There are few things that help improve your golf game more than practicing the shots you use most.
Most golfers lack the time to work on every aspect of their game. But, they do have an hour a day which can be devoted to practice. However, most golfers choose to spend their “practice time” improving the shots that they don’t hit in a round of 18 holes. This is precisely backwards.
Since the majority of these shots are within 100 yards (and in), it makes sense that 70% of your practice time should be spent on those important shots. Don’t worry about the shots you never hit in a round — there’s no penalty for missing a 5 iron from 220 yards! And anyway, your putting works as part of from any distance so you should devote some of your practice time to it too.
3 Use shot combinations during practice sessions
Mix up your shots. At your practice session, try to hit as many different club combinations as possible. We spend so much time practicing with long irons and drivers, it’s easy to neglect fairway woods and even more “unorthodox” clubs like wedges and putters.
Mixing up your shots (variety of clubs, locations, distances, and so forth) is a great way to practice and improve. The principle is that if you repeat the exact same swing over and over again, then you are unlikely to improve as much as if you let your body figure out its own faults.
For example, if you have a slice every time with a driver but never hit a driver in real golf, then you will probably never figure out how to cure your slice. You simply won’t notice or feel the problem — it’s only when you incorporate new things into the mix that you make a breakthrough. Add some variety into your practice to make it work harder for you.
4 Practice your Target
There’s a famous quote that says, “If you aim for nothing, you’ll hit it every time.” In golf, this quote could not be more accurate. Golf, at its core, is a game of aiming at a target (and hitting it). Most people who play the sport tend to forget this fact and spend all of their time hitting golf balls. While there is certainly nothing wrong with doing that, you aren’t going to improve much by only doing this. Instead, try to learn how to pick targets on the golf course and practice hitting toward those targets during your rounds.
Golf is a game built on specificity. This means that part of the challenge to getting better is locating your intended target. You can’t improve your swing if you don’t know where the ball is going. This is why picking targets for practice is so important.
Setting a target is crucial to managing your golf game. When you look down the fairway at a flag, you know where you want your shot to end up. And with this goal in mind, you can determine the club and technique you will use to play the shot. The same is true on the green.
Probably the most important part of putting is finding your target. Your aim point should be that place on the green where the ball will virtually stop and can be putted into the hole without danger or those three dreaded words, “you’re down the hill.” Knowing where to aim is probably the most difficult thing to learn about putting, especially for new players who aren’t yet familiar with line-of-sight measurements or, less preferable methods such as using a sight stick.
5 YOUR SHORT GAME
The short game is the least sexy part of our sport—and it’s also the most important to master. If you can grab a wedge or 9-iron and execute a routine shot around the green, your career as a golfer will be far less frustrating and far more fun.
Your short game is what you do when your ball is on a tough lie or in bad terrain, or when the hole is only a few yards away. Without proper touch with wedges and short irons, you’ll have to chip the ball far or be stuck way behind the green.
Start by hitting balls off mats, or by hitting pitch shots near a green. There’s no need to grab five different clubs. Use one club (your pitching wedge) and strike the ball in the same way every time. Try to land the ball anywhere within 30 yards of the hole: It doesn’t matter if you overshoot or undershoot your target. These drills are designed to help your body and swing adjust to different landing spots by giving your body more “instinctive” control of your shot.
As you go about your putting practice, try to avoid the common mistake of trying to make the ball go as close to the hole as possible. Here’s why—on Tour, where I can hit my driver 280 yards, I rarely putt the ball more than an inch or two past the hole. By “dying” the ball in, it allows for a much larger margin of error on each stroke.
When a die putt finds the left edge it usually topples in because there is no backspin to counteract gravity. On Tour, that’s fine because I seldom fail to make par from inside 20 feet. If you set up your stroke with speed being your priority—not how close you can get to the hole—the hole will seem twice as big!
You’re probably familiar with a putting stroke made popular by Ben Crenshaw: Hold the putter face-on and err on the short side. In other words, aim for an inch past the hole. This style of putting relies on gravity to bring the ball into the hole and is often called lofting or banking. The idea is that you won’t need as much speed (or as much precision) to drop a short putt in the center of the cup. Similarly, if you have 2 feet left for birdie, you can take your medicine and play it 4-5 feet past the hole to be sure it drops. You won’t see many pro players use this method, but there are plenty of benefits to practicing it at home!