The PRACTICE Initialism: A Series (Part 1)

  • Author: TJ Sullivan
  • PGA Certified Professional
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Golf Practice


A Quick Bio

I have been teaching golf with GOLFTEC for over 11 years and have given over 18,000 lessons. I’m a Certified PGA Member in Teaching and Coaching and have received a GOLFTEC award for outstanding achievement 5 times.



The PRACTICE acronym isn’t really an acronym. It’s actually an initialism I have created based on years of my own research on the best golf practice routines that lead to shooting lower scores. These are subject to change, and some might be a little corny, but through my experience, the more a player can implement these strategies the faster they get better. All of these strategies are stolen from other people and I try to give credit where credit is due, so I apologize if I forgot any one person or group of people.


In this series, I will cover this initialism in its entirety. This will include: Purpose, Random, Autonomy, Constraints, Transfer, Isolate, Challenge Point, and Expectations. Here are the first two, but stay tuned for more!




Purposeful Practice

Concept: To say practice needs to have some sort of purpose is a giant understatement. Not only should there be some sort of purpose to your golf practice, but every shot, and even every practice swing, should have some sort of purpose to it.


Application: A way I help my students find their purpose in golf practice is to help them establish a goal within each practice session. According to Sir John Whitmore in Coaching for Performance, the best way to establish goals is not to base them off of previous experience, but to think about your aspirations and work backwards from there to establish your goals. In order to develop a practice goal, or in other words, create your purposeful practice, don’t think about or react to your previous golf practice. Stay focused on your main objective of contact, score, shape, etc., and break it down from there. A good way to do this comes from Adam Young: watch what your ball does, know what causes that, implement a little bit of the opposite, and repeat.


One of the best ways to implement this purposeful practice concept would be to establish a specific time frame or objective you are trying to complete. It might be something along the lines of 30 minutes to hit 10 shots on the green from 200 yards away. Another option might be to make every 4-foot putt after hitting a chip shot 9 times in a row. In all honesty, it doesn’t matter what the objective is as long as there is one. On a swing or shot level, making sure to keep that one objective in mind will help you on the golf course.


Golf Practice


Random vs Controlled Practice

Concept: Blocked i.e. Controlled practice could be good for some, but random practice is better for most.


Application: The idea behind the phrase, “I just want to be more consistent” has never sat well with me. I’ve always viewed that as someone who doesn’t really know what they want, or more importantly doesn’t know what they need to do differently. In all other sports I’ve been around, I’ve never heard anyone say they want to be “more consistent.” The grammatical aspect of that phrase aside, it simply doesn’t make any sense to strive for that. If you want to be consistent at walking, or running, or a basic task, that makes sense. However, golf is a game we all play on different courses, different days of the week, in different conditions, with different hole locations, and different situations. We also might have had a great workout the day prior or slept funny the night before. Nearly everything in every way is different, so why on Earth would you want to be consistent at a game that changes all the time?


During my lessons, I have my students switch clubs frequently, and during their golf practice sessions, I task them with different games or activities that allow them to change their targets, clubs, and shot shape as needed. A good way to do this would be a random 39 ball drill. I stole this from one of my college buddies, and I still use it frequently to this day. Most people have 14 clubs, and we won’t be using the putter for this game, so we can take that out. In a random order, you have one chance to hit a draw, fade, and a straight shot with all of your clubs. That’s 3 shots with 13 clubs, or, 39 balls. This activity allows me to track not only what shot shape is easier for my players to hit, but also which clubs tend to go in which direction. We can work at it and move on. I would recommend implementing something like this in your normal golf practice routine every 2-3 weeks to stay on top of your ball striking capabilities.


That completes the Purpose and Random dimensions of the PRACTICE initialism. Keep an eye out for the next part of this series!