Are you addicted to practice? Apparently I am.

I’ve been chewing on some advice that Vet4Golfing51 passed on in response to my 2012 improvement plan.  His premise was that I didn’t play enough and that play improves performance more than practice.  I just looked at my 2011 records and holy cow!  In addition to my 35 rounds, I spent 70 days practicing, which is a ton of effort for essentially very little improvement.  Not only was I surprised that I dedicated as much time as I did but that my approach clearly didn’t pay dividends.  Thanks Vet 🙂

Now the weather in the DC area has been quite mild this winter with no measurable snow and I actually have practiced twice in January while trying to learn the new short game and putting techniques of Stan Utley.  This is clearly required work since I’m trying to train my muscles for a new motion, however it’s clear from my stats last year that I’m addicted to practice and am wondering what my performance might have been with only half the practice time dedicated, if I had used the balance on play (9-hole rounds, for instance.)  Range rats like Tom Kite and Vijay Singh benefited from their time spent on prolonged practice but they got enough play in to validate.

So going forward my goal in 2012 is again, 35 full rounds, only 35 practice days and 20 9-hole rounds between the full rounds which should provide enough play to avoid that foreign feeling I often get on the first tee, and still keep me fresh.  10 of the full rounds will again be compressed into six straight days of play at Myrtle Beach which would leave a good  interval of 18 hole and nine hole play for the balance of the year.

A couple notes on the Stan Utley techniques.  I’ve been rug putting all winter and am very comfortable with the new fundamentals.  The change has appeared to take hold and I putted very well on my practice green last weekend.  The chipping is going well too, as I’ve been working that on the rug, but the pitch shot is still a work in progress.  When properly executed, the direction and distance control are great, yet without the opportunity to pitch inside, it’s still quite foreign.  Looking forward to temps in the 60s this week and feeding the addiction a little more.

4 thoughts on “Are you addicted to practice? Apparently I am.”

  1. It is funny you wrote about this recently. The guy I am working with this winter used to play on a few of the mini tours and monday qualified a few times on the Nationwide and I asked him what he would do differently if he could start over. He said without a doubt he would play more and spend less time on the range. I hope your new approach pays off.

  2. Very interesting. I believe the key for improvement lies in the ability to play a mid-week round of 9-holes and either 9 or 18 on the weekend, thus ensuring more continuous exposure. The inordinately high frequency of play during my Myrtle Beach trips (10 rounds in six days) has always yielded big returns on short game but no impact on full swing. At the end of the week, I’m typically razor sharp around the greens but probably too worn out to benefit from all the ball strikes associated with 180 holes of golf. The rest of my season doesn’t have enough play at regular intervals to stay comfortable. Can you ask your friend what his practice to play ratio was?

  3. He didn’t have a set practice to play ratio, but he said his focus now is putting and short game before a round with a little bit of time at the range to work on his timing and tempo, but that is pretty much it in terms of full swing work.

  4. Finding that proper balance is the key and is very illusive. In my quest, I’ve identified a couple of consistencies for me: 1) I will almost always play better if I practice all aspects of the game the day before a round. 2) I have often played well by only warming up with chipping and putting before a round (no range), but I take an extended period of time to chip and putt. 3) ball striking warm-up is advised before an early tee time (before 7:30 a.m.) Without it, I usually end up spending the first four holes warming/waking up my game.

    And the pursuit of excellence continues. . .

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