Here’s a simple and fun game to practice your pitching that actually works

A new app can help you dial in your short game.

Welcome to Play Smart, a new game-improvement column that drops every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from Managing Editor Luke Kerr-Dineen to help you play smarter, better golf.

If you’ve read this column before, you know that the subject of practicing is a particularly interesting one to me. The reason is simple: Changing how you practice is something every golfer you can do, regardless of whether you’re on the PGA Tour or a higher handicap. And anecdotally, when I talk to pro golfers, one of the first things they’ll talk about is how they practice; talk to an average golfer, and the subject of practice falls by the wayside.

Which brings us to Ikonik, a new app and coaching platform designed to help golf coaches track their students’ progress both in person and from afar. The app, which launched on Tuesday, has already partnered with the LPGA and the Metropolitan PGA, and the goal of it all is simple: To help students get better, faster.

Sounds good to me! And so I asked them for an example of how they help golfers do this, so we can learn for our own purposes. They shared with me one of their benchmark challenges, which a coach will ask a student to complete as a way of measuring their process, and it’s one you can try for yourself the next time you’ve got a few minutes to practice.

How the game works

  1. The drill below is best used for a pitch shot, so find one about 50 yards long.
  2. Drop down 10 golf balls and hit them towards your target.
  3. Using the points system below, calculate your total number of points.

As you can see, you’ll get five points for hitting inside 15 feet, three points for hitting it inside 27 feet and 1 point for hitting it inside 45 feet. Make sure to keep track of your overall point totals so you can track your progress over time, but by practicing in a more intense, targeted, and goal-oriented way, you’ll be getting more out of your practice, and you’ll probably improve because of it.

Luke Kerr-Dineen Contributor

Luke Kerr-Dineen is the Game Improvement Editor at GOLF Magazine and In his role he oversees the brand’s game improvement content spanning instruction, equipment, health and fitness, across all of GOLF’s multimedia platforms.

An alumni of the International Junior Golf Academy and the University of South Carolina–Beaufort golf team, where he helped them to No. 1 in the national NAIA rankings, Luke moved to New York in 2012 to pursue his Masters degree in Journalism from Columbia University. His work has also appeared in USA Today, Golf Digest, Newsweek and The Daily Beast.