Practice less, play better (seriously!). Top 100 Teacher explains how
Ask most casual players if they’d rather spend time at the range practicing golf or actually playing 18 holes, and most would enthusiastically respond, “So, when’s our tee time!?!”
There’s no denying the fact that golf practice can be a bit … boring.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to dial-in your swing fundamentals, study your mechanics, get an idea of yardages and, generally, get the feel for hitting balls. But too many amateurs just don’t have the time to truly dedicate themselves to keeping it part of their routine.
If you’re someone who wants to improve without spending hours at the range, GOLF Top 100 Teacher Mark Durland can help.
Below, Durland outlines a more efficient way to practice golf. By following his tips, you can focus more on what you need the most help with, while still seeing your scores go lower on the course.
A more focused golf practice routine goes a long way
“Are you practicing to get better or worse? In my experience as a teacher, most players are actually practicing to get worse — although that’s far from their intention,” Durland says.
“Part of what makes golf unique is that we don’t practice on the field of play, nor do we practice golf the same way we play it! That’s why building muscle memory and finding your routines are so critical.”
For those struggling with dull, tedious or repetitive golf practice, it might be time to try a different kind of routine — which can reignite your passion for the game and lead to improvement.
What type of golf practice is for you?
One type of practice is block practice, while another form is known as random practice.
“Block practice is where most golfers spend their time, and why they don’t necessarily improve at playing golf,” Durland says. “That’s because this usually means using one club, hitting ball after ball to the same target — which I often call machine gun practice.”
The problem with block practice is that we get really good at doing something for that session, but it rarely translates into other sessions or onto the golf course.
To bridge the gap between the driving range and the first tee, Durland says it’s time to use random practice instead.
“Just like the name suggests, random golf practice replicates playing real golf — without actually being on the course. So if you want to practice less and play better, random practice is the ticket.”
2 types of random golf practice
Wondering if random practice might be for you? Durland explains two ways he teaches his students this technique.
1. Choose different targets on the driving range
To begin random practice, get clubs that go to different targets on the driving range.
After selecting your clubs, use your pre-shot routine for each shot — to mimic your on-course preparation.
Next, hit your shots to different targets. Start with driver, then use your 6-iron and then a wedge. By doing this, you’ll feel like you’re playing a par-4 hole.
Hit a bad shot? No problem! After all, this is practice, so take a mulligan if needed.
When this happens, make an exit practice swing, picturing the ball flying at the target as intended. If it’s a great shot, imprint it with a positive emotion such as a fist pump or a motivating phrase to yourself.
2. Play golf … from the driving range!
Another way that you can use random practice is by playing the golf course on the driving range. This makes practice more fun, but does require some imagination.
Pick a fairway between two targets on the range. Based on the outcome of the drive, pick a target for your second shot. If you ‘miss the green’ with your second shot, hit a pitch or chip shot to replicate getting the ball on the green like you would on the course.
Make sure to play par-3s, -4s and -5s.
One of my students used this strategy for all 18 holes from the range a day before stepping foot on the actual course. The next day, he shot his best round ever because he had already ‘played’ the course in his mind.
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