Golf Practice - A Golf Practice Routine For The Golf Range
If you’re anything like the typical golfer, you’ll probably recognize this kind of scenario. You arrive at the range with joints and muscles stiff from a day at work, but you leap into golf practice by hitting balls without any kind of warm-up.
After a few token wedge shots and medium irons it’s time to reach for the driver and get down to the serious business of the session – hitting the ball as far as you can while implementing that “gain 15-20 yards off the tee” tip which you read in last week’s magazine.
Perhaps you’ll get some decent looking shots away, but probably not. Either way, it’ll be tough to keep striking them consistently well. Hitting drive after drive in this way is hard work. Even if you start well, your performance will probably fall away quickly as you tire, leading to frustration, boredom and disillusionment.
Golf practice sessions like this may be good exercise, but they’re far more likely to harm your game than improve it.
Fortunately there is a better way, and incorporating just a few simple principles in your golf practice will make for an effective and enjoyable session on the range.
Plan Your Golf Session
It’s important to plan a golf practice routine before you start hitting balls and this means having a clear goal in mind. It might be a general one such as “improve accuracy with my short irons”, but this needs to be underpinned with the specific tasks you will undertake, for example, hit 20 pitching wedges to the 100 yard marker.
In setting these tasks, it’s important to include the important principles of variety and spacing. In the context of golf practice this can be achieved by varying the clubs and distances used, and going through a set routine between each shot.
A Good Golf Warm Up
Don’t let anyone tell you that golf is not an athletic activity. Generating enough force to propel a ball several hundred yards requires a tremendous muscular effort, and the range of motion required in the hips, back and shoulders also puts great stress on the joints. It’s simply not possible to swing well if your body is not properly warmed up.
Ideally you should go through a complete stretching and mobilizing routine before hitting full shots, but if time is at a premium any number of “heavy club” type golf training aids are available. At the very least, try swinging two or three of your own clubs together until you feel your hips and back loosening up and your shoulder turn increasing.
Watch this video for a great warm up drill that will help you control tension and swing the club more effectivley.
A Variety (Interleaving Practice) of Golf Tasks
Focusing on a single club for an entire golf practice session, or “going through the bag” from wedge to driver have their uses, but neither is the best use of your precious range time.
It’s far better to interleave your tasks by using a variety of clubs and replicating as far as possible the conditions you will meet on the course.
A good way to do this, while keeping the learning part of your brain engaged and interested, is to play an imaginary round. Start with a par 4 hole by hitting driver off a tee. Note closely where the ball lands and if you decide (honestly) that you would have been on the fairway, choose a medium iron for your second shot to the 150 or 175 yard marker. If your drive was poor, you may have to hit a short wedge recovery before going to the medium iron.
If you hit a poor approach, you can then pitch or chip to an imaginary flag (but a specific target). You can proceed like this for as many “holes” as you have time for; using an iron off the tee to simulate a par 3, or using a hybrid or 3 wood for your second shot for a notional par 5.
Challenge and Spacing
Keeping score will give your golf practice session the element of challenge and pressure which is often lacking from golf practice; and using a pre-shot routine will supply the spacing of tasks which has been shown to significantly accelerate learning.
Use Game Like Training (GLT)
This kind of playful golf practice routine might seem as though it would distract you from the serious business of acquiring muscle memory through the constant repetition of a single task.
But all the scientific research is clear that practice sessions which replicate as far as possible the conditions of playing and competing produce far superior results in terms of improved performance.