Focused Golf Practice: Practice Sessions With Purpose
How many times have you gone to the driving range to work on your game, only to leave feeling frustrated? Feeling like you didn’t get better and actually might have regressed?
If this sounds like your golf practice sessions, just know that you’re not alone.
Golf is arguably one of the most challenging sports ever and frustrates even the best players. Whether you’re a 30 handicap or PGA Tour professional, we all have days when golf feels extremely challenging.
The key to getting better for the long run is to improve your practice sessions.
That doesn’t mean that you need to hit more balls though. Because a large percentage of golfers practice the wrong way and then wonder why their scores don’t drop.
Today we’ll help you avoid some common practice mistakes and finally learn how to practice like a pro.
Golf Practice Plan
To shoot lower scores consistently and decrease your handicap, you need to upgrade your practice sessions. Here are five strategies to help you make the most of your practice time so you can become a more consistent golfer.
1. Create a Practice Plan
As Gary Player said, “The harder you practice, the luckier you get.”
And I agree… to an extent.
Don’t get me wrong, practice is 100% necessary to becoming a better golfer. But it’s about practicing correctly so that you maximize your time and actually get better.
Here are three practice rules that will help you create a world-class practice plan:
I’ve found that getting the most out of your practice session is a lot like getting a great workout at the gym. You need to plan in advance, so you make the most of your time.
Before each session, decide how long you will practice and stick with it. Then, decide if you are working on the full bag, woods, irons, wedges, short game, putting, or a combination.
Learn to Focus
The ability to focus on one thing at a time is getting increasingly harder with smartphones and people being busy all the time. But if you want to play great golf, you need to learn the art of focus.
One way to train your “focus muscle” is to only think about your session on the range.
Don’t text or mindlessly scroll social media; instead, train your mind to focus on the task at hand. This will help you make the most of your session and help you play better on the golf course.
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Don’t Base Your Success on Length of Session
This is the part where I slightly disagree with Gary Player. A longer practice session doesn’t always mean it’s a better one.
Sure, sometimes you need to hit more golf balls when you’re training a new part of your swing. But I’ve also had wildly successful sessions that were only 20 minutes long.
So please, do not judge your session based on time!
Related: Best Putters Buying Guide
2. Divide Your Practice Time Up
The second golf practice tip is to divide your session up so you work on different parts of the game. One of the worst things that so many golfers do is only hit range balls with the same club, over and over again.
Newsflash: you don’t get better by hitting 40 7-irons in a row every single time you practice.
That would never happen on the course, and it’s an easy way to ingrain bad habits too. Instead, you want to mix up your sessions with different drills, using different clubs, and hitting at different targets.
You should break up golf practice into four sessions to help all parts of your game.
Block practice is where you only work on 1-2 swing changes at a time. The point is to train your mind and body through repetition by using the same club at the same target over and over again.
Use this type of practice sparingly and mostly when making swing changes so you can trust your new swing on the course. I think 25% of your total practice time or less is a good amount of time for block practice. Using training aids can also help develop better golf swing basics too.
The second type of practice is what I call routine practice. Most golfers don’t have a routine and it’s costing them tons of strokes every round.
During this time, you go through your full shot routine with every golf ball. From picking a target, committing to a shot, taking practice swings, and more. The goal here is to create an effective pre-shot routine to help you on the course!
With a consistent routine you can eliminate negative swing thoughts, get aimed properly, and have more confidence on every shot.
Random practice is where you never hit two shots the exact same. For example, you might hit a 9-iron, then a punch 5-iron, then a hybrid, then a driver (all at different targets).
This will help keep your brain engaged and mimic what it’s like on the golf course. Whether you’re on the driving range or at the short game area, mix it up to keep your mind mentally engaged.
The final type of practice is great if you play competitively or want to start entering tournaments. Find a friend and place some small bets on the range or the putting green to get your nerves involved. This will make it easier for you to feel confident playing in events and get your competitive juices flowing.
3. Work on Your Short Game Twice as Much
The third golf practice tip is to spend 50% (or more) of all your practice time working on your short game. Phil Mickelson once said, “The only way to win tournaments is with the short game. Over half your shots are within 30 or 40 yards.”
Yet, most golfers focus on irons and woods during practice and wonder why they aren’t improving. Spend as much time as you can working on your wedges and putting.
Because even if you have an “off” day ball striking, a great short game can help you still score well. And if you’re hitting it great that day, your short game can help you maximize your long game to shoot your best scores yet.
Before heading to the practice tee, divide up your time so you’re working on 125 yards and twice as much as your long game. Trust me, it will pay off big time to shoot lower scores.
4. Focus on Three Clubs
Golf really comes down to three clubs; putter, sand wedge, and driver. If you can master these three clubs, you will become a much better golfer.
Obviously, the putter and wedge are important because most shots happen inside 100 yards. Plus, no matter how good you get at golf you will always miss greens and need a solid short game. The
While your driver is important because you use it 10+ times per round and sets up the rest of your game. Unfortunately, most golfers are terrified of their driver and a main reason is they don’t practice with it enough.
Related: Top 11 Longest Drivers
In an article titled “10 Mind Blowing Amateur Golf Stats” by Golf Monthly they used Arccos data to measure important stats for amateurs. The most surprising one was this; five handicaps hit 49% of fairways with driver and 52% with three wood.
That’s right, five handicap golfers only found the short grass 3% more by using 3-wood. But most golfers say they “Hit 3-wood for safety” when the data of 540 million shots says otherwise.
Needless to say, it’s vital to master your driver so you don’t give up yardage off the tee. The sooner you learn to love your driver, the sooner you can have confidence off the tee. Master these three clubs and watch your handicap drop like never before.
5. Practice Your Pre-Shot Routine
Did you know that a consistent set of rituals before you hit every shot can help you play better?
Don’t take my word for it – there is a great study done by the European Tour (check it out here) that studied the impact of routines. They collected data for more than 22,000 shots in regard to time over the ball and routine behavior.
The study found:
- For putts inside five feet the likelihood of making the putt is double when you spend less time over the ball.
- Consistency spent over the ball leads to greater tee shot and approach shot consistency (aka, more fairways and greens).
By creating a consistent set of rituals and keeping your routine at the same time every swing you can play better… fast. But most golfers don’t have a routine and/or never practice one!
Spend time on the driving range perfecting your pre-shot routine so you can take your ball striking to the course.
Last Step: Spend 80% of Practice on Your Weaknesses
Finally, make sure you spend the majority of your time on your weaknesses.
After each round, track your stats or do a mental review of what parts of your game held you back. Then, during your next practice session, spend a lot of time on that area. Eventually, you will turn your weaknesses into strengths and become a more well-rounded golfer.
Top Questions About Golf Practice
Still curious about how to make the most out of each practice session? Check out some of the most commonly asked questions now.
Should I use training aids in practice?
Training aids are great and can help you with all types of swing issues. But it’s important to not get overly dependent on them and use them too often in practice.
I’d suggest using them 20-30% of the time (at most). It’s also a good idea to avoid them before competitive golf so you don’t get overly technical and get into mechanics on the golf course.
How many days a week should I practice golf?
It depends on your goals and schedule as everyone is different. If your goal is to break 80 vs. break 100, your time will likely be spent differently. Some people can get out a few items per week while others might only get out a few times per month.
The goal is to make the most out of each session using the tips above. Don’t forget, more practice doesn’t always mean better practice!
Should I use alignment sticks when I practice?
Alignment sticks are a great way to ensure your aim is square to the target. Not aiming correctly is one of the biggest mistakes that most golfers make but alignment sticks can help. Use them during a majority of your practice sessions to improve each session.
Related: Best Alignment Stick Golf Drills
Every golfer wants to get better, but sadly, most of them don’t practice the right way!
To make the most of your session, follow these five rules to get the most out of your golf practice time.
- Create a practice plan for each session.
- Mix up practice sessions to keep your mind active.
- Work on your short game twice as much.
- Master three clubs to develop consistency.
- Work on your pre-shot routine so you stop being a “range” player.
Finally, stay patient and trust the process. Improving the weaker parts of your game in practice is also key so no one shot scares you on the golf course.
Even if you get 1% better every day, you will make massive strides in the next few months and years.
What is your favorite golf practice tip?
Let us know in the comments below.