Are you a “Ranger Rick?” Do you hit the ball like a single-digit handicapper on the range and then shoot 95 on the course? If you are struggling to bring your good swings from the range to the course, you may need to change the way you practice.
I talk to my students about two ways to practice. There is repetitive practice and random practice. A productive and effective practice routine should include both of these forms.
Repetitive Practice: Just like it sounds, this part of your practice session involves hitting the same shot a number of times in a row. There is certainly a call for this type of practice when you are trying to learn a new move, or engrain a positive habit. Within this section of your practice session, I still would encourage you to have some structure. I am a big proponent of using drills to learn or change your golf swing. The best way to structure your repetitive portion would be to use drills and regular swings in a circuit format. Drills are used to enhance a feel and often to exaggerate a motion that you are trying to instill into your move. The problem here is that a drill will only impact a certain amount of regular swings. When you first start with a drill, the number of regular swings it impacts will be relatively small.
For this reason, use a circuit format. I love to have people follow these guidleines:
· Hit 10 shots with drill #1
· Hit 10 shots with drill #2
· Hit 6 regular shots
After a few practice sessions, you should be ready to increase the number of regular swings relative to the drills. As an example using the above scenario, you would increase the number of regular swing to 10, then 15, then 20 while keeping the number of drill repetitions at 10. Take your time in this process. The key is to have completed the circuit and be back to the drills before the effect of the drill expires.
Random Practice: Because the game of golf is not about hitting the same shot over and over, any productive practice session must include a segment that we call random practice. Random practice not only represents the style in which we play the sport, it is also been proven that the brain absorbs and retains changes to the swing faster if random practice included in your practice routine.
Random practice is defined just as it sounds. DO NOT hit the same shot twice in a row. If you are on the range, hit different clubs to different targets. Pick out five or six targets at a variety of distances and hit one shot to all of them. If you hit a real clunker, you don’t get a mulligan. Move to the next target. On each of these shots, you should go through your whole pre-shot routine just as you would on the golf course.
Random practice represents the way we play the game. Random practice allows your brain to absorb the motion. Lastly, random practice gives you an accurate view of your skill level. While I love to see people practice their short game, you can fool yourself into thinking you are better than you are. All too often I see a person on next to the practice green shipping a number of shots to the same target. Inevitably, there will be a nice grouping of balls very near the hole. Does this mean they have expert mechanics and touch around the green? Not necessarily. Where did the first chip go? If the first chip comes up 8 feet short, the second chip runs 10 feet past and chips 3, 4, 5 and 6 are close to the hole. They are not good chippers, they are good adjusters! You get one chance on the golf course so start spending more of your practice time the way you play.
George Connor is a Two-Time CT Section PGA Teacher of the Year and is Director of Instruction at The Academy of Golf at Gillette Ridge Golf Club in Bloomfield, CT. He can be reached at 860-724-1430 or George@connorGolf.com - www.ConnorGolf.com