6 things pro golfers do when they practice that amateurs never do

March 3, 2020

Golfers (myself included) love to watch and learn form pro golfers’ swings. It can be helpful, undoubtedly, but it’s even more helpful to learn from how they practice. As I canvassed the range at the 2020 Arnold Palmer Invitational, it struck me how different a pro’s practice session was from a recreational golfer’s, which inspired me to make a list about a few of the differences:

1. Lots of wedges

I’ve written about this before, but when recreational golfers hit the range, they generally hit lots of 7-irons and a few drivers. Pros, by contrast, generally hit a ton of wedges, and a ton of drivers, and not much else. I watched Rory on the range Tuesday morning, and I counted more than 35 minutes before he moved off his wedge and into a different club.

2. They use their pre-shot routine

Yes, it’s boring, and you’ve probably heard it before. But it’s important. Don’t just bang balls into the distance. Step into every shot with a specific purpose.

3. They set up swing drills

Especially during practice round days, every pro I saw spent at least a few minutes using a drill to improve their technique, so learn from them. Don’t go nuts though. Ask your coach for a drill to help with something you’re working on (or better yet, find one on GOLF.com!), and spend just a few minutes before your round doing it so your swing is in a good spot when you go play.

4. They pace themselves

Pros are very deliberate with the pace of their practice. It’s not a race; they’re trying to practice with a specific rhythm that matches what they do on the course.

5. They play skill games

Whether it’s setting up tees around the hole, or, as you see GOLF Top 100 Teacher Mark Blackburn working on with one of his students below, an alignment rod straight in front of them which they are trying to curve their ball around, pros are constantly playing games as a way of challenging themselves while they practice.

6. They’re obsessed with their putting lines

There are almost no commonalities between the way PGA Tour players putt. Well, except for one: They’re almost universally obsessed with the start line of their putt. Gates, chalk lines, string, tees; canvas a Tour putting green, and you’ll see all of them, each with the goal of starting their putt on their intended line.

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