Some amateurs do not have the time to practice between rounds of golf during the season, and many of them surely don’t like hitting balls in the biting cold of winter. But can a golfer who does not practice actually improve his or her game? I believe tthey can.
You see, golfers who possess an understanding of the laws of ball flight can make educated choices when making changes to their swing. Other golfers don’t know what exactly is producing their ball flight, so they don’t know what to change as the practice. A lesson from an instructor can help in this area, allowing you to then assess and change aspects of your swing by analyzing your ball flight.
Some people believe that practice makes perfect, but this is only partially true. On the range, most golfers hit a ball every 20 seconds, and with the same club for several shots. On the course, you hit a ball every two minutes, with a different club and from a different lie. Also, hitting mats are much more forgiving than grass—you need to learn the right sound off the clubface to know if you are making good ball contact. So getting into a groove at the range does not necessarily lead to better play on the course.
The most effective way to practice when time is short is to objectively look at all aspects of your game, from driving to long shots to short shots to putting, and use whatever practice time you have on improving your weakest area. Then set a goal for each brief practice session so you keep focused; maybe it’s hitting 20 shots with a draw, or making 15 long putts that get to inside two feet. But remember that over time, it’s easy for the feeling of new movements to dissipate. Monitor your changes often so old habits don’t return.