Par for the Course - Practice with a Purpose

I want to start off the year with an article that is going to help you improve your golf game throughout the season. The best way to improve is to practice, but more importantly practice with a purpose. This means quality over quantity! I see so many people go out to the range and hit hundreds of balls with no improvement because they’re not practicing the right way.

To have a good quality practice session, you want to try and simulate the shots that you are going to hit on the golf course as much as possible. Take your time, pretending that each shot is one that you are going to play on the course. Here are three simple tips to use when practicing on the range:

1) Always pick a target and make sure you are aligned to your target.
2) Always go through your routine the same as you would for a shot on the course.
3) Always visualize the shot you are trying to hit.
Don’t get stuck in a rut of hitting the same shot over and over again. Hit different shots to different targets and with different clubs. On each shot, try and imagine that you are on the course and hitting the shot during your round. Do everything the same as you would on the course, deciding which type of shot you want to hit, visualizing the shot in your mind, picking your target, and going through your routine when setting up to the ball. I often hear golfers say, “I can hit the ball well on the range but when I get out on the course I can’t hit the ball anymore.” This is because when you’re on the driving range and you hit the same shot over and over again, eventually you are going to get good at it. But when you’re playing a round, you only get one shot.

One thing I used to struggle and I notice a lot of amateurs struggling with is getting off to a good start on the first hole. When warming up I would feel great about my swing, but then get up to the first tee and hook my shot into the trees or blow it right into the water, etc. After working with a sports psychologist, we discovered that when I was warming up on the driving range, I was focusing too much on my swing and how it felt, but when you get onto the course all you want to focus on is hitting the required shot. Now, when I’m done warming up, before I leave the driving range I pretend to play the first hole in my mind. I tee up my drive, imagine that I’m standing on the first tee, go through my routine and hit the shot exactly as I would on the course. After I hit the drive, I then imagine I’m hitting my second shot with an iron from the fairway etc. Sometimes I will even play the first three holes before I leave the range. What this allows me to do is to get my mind focusing on playing the course, instead of playing my swing.

It is so important to practice the right way, to ensure that it is improving your game. I would much rather see someone hit 50 balls while focusing on these practice tips than rapid firing 200 balls and not even thinking about each shot. Good quality practice will be much more beneficial to your game, ensure that you’re not wasting your time and it will be rewarding to see all the hard work finally starting to pay off with lower scores!