Are you one of those individuals who loves spontaneity and enjoys flying by the seat of your pants? Or are you always calculating and feel compelled to plan out every activity for which you participate? Count me in the latter group. And for those ultra-organizers out there, you understand the trait is both a blessing and a curse because while you’re always organized, others start to expect you to organize them as well.
So for the organizers, a couple tips about practice. First, you get much more benefit if you have an idea of what you are trying to accomplish and how to get there. I’ve tried it the other way (just show up and bang balls or chip and putt) and it doesn’t work. You don’t have to plan out minute by minute or ball for ball, like Tiger Woods (read Max Alder’s April Golf Digest Column), but structure your time according to your objective. Last weekend after my disastrous opening round on Saturday, I headed out Sunday morning and videoed myself hitting the 58 degree wedge shots that I had struggled with the day before. I planned what technique I was going to work on and stuck to it. The film review and planning were great because I uncovered a couple flaws and didn’t have to stew all week on my mistakes. Thanks to Vetforgolfing51, for suggesting that the best time to practice is as close to after your round as possible.
Second, introduce an element of game simulation into your practice. On full swing, work your technique, and then play an imaginary nine holes at your home course. Use different targets and shot shapes on the range. Don’t get stuck raking balls after a bad swing; move on to the next shot and try to hit the recovery as if you were on the course. For short game, play nine holes (or 18 if there’s time) of Up and Down. Drop balls in various lies and use different clubs to go after holes requiring all the techniques you’ve been working on. Count each hole as a par-2, with a chip or pitch in as the only way to make birdie. Mark and clean your ball just like you were out on the course and even write your score on an old card. See how close you can stay to even par. I usually score about four or five over and it’s a wonderful challenging game to build nerve and technique. I always wrap up my short game sessions with Up and Down. Today I was even par through seven and the pressure was intense! Great stuff for transitioning practice to the course. I bogeyed #8 but my one-over score was the best I’ve had in years and left me filled with confidence and feeling like my practice time was well spent.
A final word about Tiger’s practice habits. Yes, the guy is quite anal but he’s been the greatest player on the planet for the last 15 years and you’d be smart to emulate some of what he does. I’ve been using the Two Tee drill, that he implemented while under the tutelage of Butch Harmon, to practice putting before rounds for the last couple of seasons and it really promotes a solid putting stroke on the short ones. More advanced players should also copy his use of the Nine-Shot drill to build confidence and add different options to your repertoire.
Got any tips for good practice? What’s your most effective technique? Please share!