The old adage "quality over quantity" is true, especially when it comes to your practice time. With the busy demands of everyday life, it can be tough to find enough time to practice. The good news is it doesn’t take hours and hours to improve. You just need to make your time on the practice facility count.
Many of us are usually working on something specific, so we should allow time for that. There are times when we are even working on two things. However, our brains can only handle one objective at a time.
Create 3 Practice Objectives
This requires some discipline, but as I begin my practice I create three separate piles of balls. Chris Baisch has been coaching me to work with a training tool called the SwingGyde, which checks the position of the club in my backswing and downswing. Rather than trying to focus on both parts with each swing, I segment my focus to just the backswing or downswing with each shot I play. On the third pile, my focus is to go through my routine and just play without any swing thoughts. After all, the goal is to play with as little thought as possible, so I need to practice that way as well.
Finally, I want to have a competitive part of each practice session. This is where we prepare ourselves for the successes and failures of playing on the course. We should strive to simulate the nerves that sometimes show up under pressure.
Incorporate Games into your Practice
Full Swing: Consistency
I finish a session by trying to hit 10 consecutive drives in the fairway. If I miss a fairway, I have to start over. How nervous do you think I feel on the 8th or 9th?
Full Swing: Committment
I try to play 10 consecutive shots with full commitment. If I play an uncommitted shot, I have to start over.
I play 9 short chip-and-putt holes around the green, trying to get 7 or more them up-and-down.
I play 9 holes of drawback. I play my first putt from a range of 20 – 30 feet. If the putt doesn’t go in, I pull the ball away from the hole by the length of a putter and putt from there. I try to play 9 consecutive holes without three putting (not easy!). This is a great game to test your ability to make 3 to 8 footers when they matter.
All of these games are meant to create some nerves and pressure in my practice. Having success in practice while playing these games will give me confidence for when it’s time to head to the course. Isn’t practice all about creating confidence?
Sample Practice Schedule
If you only have 30 to 45 minutes to practice, try this schedule:
Pile 1 objective: 5 – 8 minutes
Pile 2 objective: 5 – 8 minutes
Pile 3 objective: 5 – 8 minutes
Competitive practice: 15 – 20 minutes
Enjoy and embrace the process of improving and always practice with a purpose!
Chandler Withington is Hazeltine’s Head Golf Professional. Prior to leading golf operations at Hazeltine, Withington was on the golf staff of Merion, Seminole Golf Club, and other highly regarded clubs. Withington is a historian of the game, and values the life lessons learned on the course.