How does your practice and preparation make you a better player? If you haven’t asked yourself this question then it’s time you start. The best players in the world have very structured and effective on/off course practice routines that ensure their success. For the average player it is very important to simplify that routine for a number of reasons, one of which is time. Use your time wisely and target the areas of your game that will afford you the quickest and most effective results.
The ability for the player to develop a consistent and reliable practice routine will be the cornerstone to overall game improvement. Establish a purpose and goal to your practice sessions, and never leave until you are comfortable you have attained your objective. Remember, it’s the quality of your practice sessions that count not the quantity. The player that beats the most balls or spends 3 hours out on the driving range is often times the player with the least improvement. I see player’s everyday that rush to the Club, grab their bag and head to the practice tee for the one hour “ball hitting” session that does little more than provide them with a sweat laden workout they could have gotten on the treadmill. It becomes a “how many balls can I hit” to justify being out here session. Well, it should go without saying that this is a well proven recipe for disaster.
My number one goal outside of ensuring the player has reliable and repeatable fundamentals is to establish a practice and pre-round game plan. One that relies on the simple things within a player’s game. Always have an objective to your practice session such as improving your short iron play, hybrids, or even your driver or putting. Be specific and keep your improvement session to only one or two areas of the game. There is absolutely nothing gained by hitting every club in the bag during your practice session. In fact sometimes all you really want to do is check your ball position, alignment and hand position at address. Those little areas can make a big difference in the overall consistency of your game. If those items are correct with each club you’ll be that much closer to achieving your goals.
I believe it is most important to begin a good practice session on the chipping green, gaining a feel for the conditions and the club itself. It’s where the player can “ease” their way into the practice session while warming up the small muscles of the body. I have always believed that the practice session begins on the chipping green and ends on the chipping green. You will find that the feel you gain and visualization you acquire from the development of a good short game will pay great dividends in other areas of your game. From there head out to work on that “trouble” area of your game, but use your time wisely. It always helps to have a few small swing aids to assist you in your improvement. Things like alignment sticks are a great way to assist you with alignment of the body, takeaway, downswing and follow through of the club, and in some instances can be used to correct poor path or swing plane.
By simplifying your approach to practice and effective use of your time you will find yourself becoming more efficient, and targeting the areas of your game that need the most improvement. Use these ideas as the starting point toward improving the finer areas of your game, and at the end of the day it’s the little things that matter most.