Avoiding distractions

So out I went on Sunday of the July 4th holiday weekend at 9:30 a.m. to my local muni with thoughts of spending a couple hours working on my game.  To my delight, I arrived at an empty short game area and began my putting drills only to find the beginner chipping clinic coming my way after five minutes.  So I situated myself at the far end of the green hoping to steer as clear as possible, but soon 12-15 students were zinging low screamers all over the place.  So I finished up there and headed down to the range and setup at a station adjacent to the husband and wife team that had just finished taking a lesson.  Of course the wife was hitting it slightly better than the husband who’s increasing frustration was apparent.  Halfway through my session, the young boyfriend/girlfriend combo set up shop in the two stalls behind me with the boyfriend providing the girlfriend “expert” golf instruction.  While they were technically out of my peripheral vision, girlfriend hit a couple toe doinks straight over the protective wall and into my hitting station which effectively ended my practice.

When distracted on the course, you can simply stop / start whatever you are doing but it’s much tougher to manage during practice.  For some, practice time is social time where folks get caught up with friends before a round, or find time for a spontaneous contest to see who can hit the tractor picking balls or see who can hit driver over the net at the end of the range.

If you’re serious about improvement, you need to concentrate without distractions and isolate yourself during practice.  So short of being identified as anti-social, you’re better off practicing early or very late in the day, when you can do your serious work.  Today, I was reminded of that the hard way.

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About Brian Penn

Avid sports fan and golf nut. I am a lifelong resident of the Washington D.C. area and love to follow the local teams. Also worked as a golf professional in the Middle Atlantic PGA for several years and am intrigued by the game to no end. I love to play and practice and am dedicated to continual improvement.
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2 Responses to Avoiding distractions

  1. reesedavies says:

    Wow! Excellent post with sage advice. It’s amazing that something so inherently obvious at times can simply pass unnoticed. Often, I struggle to comprehend that every golfer isn’t looking for the same “type” of practice experience as myself. I also coach high school golf, so I am used to the wrecking crew effect on all other golfers. Loved the commentary on the husband/wife performance. I struggle communicating “purposeful” practice to my students, and much of it is due to the numerous distractions. Maybe if I can limit those, we’ll experience a better practice… but they are high school kids?

  2. brianpenn says:

    Hey thanks for the comment and I can appreciate the challenge of coaching golf to high school kids especially in a group setting. I’ve found the smaller the group, the more effective the instruction. I remember back in my teaching days giving a clinic to 15 elderly ladies on how to hit bunker shots. Ended up trying to make sure nobody got killed – which was ultimately an effective clinic.
    For your serious students, you may want to have them read Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin. It’s a rather serious look at how great performers achieve success through deliberate practice. Good luck!

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