The Greatest Golf Tip: Practice

By: Robert Partain

Golf is a sport, and like every other sport, it requires practice in order to be the best that we can. Yet, many players not only don't practice, but they hate the word itself, it seems. I know a lot of players who only swing a club when they are on the course, playing a round of 9 or 18 holes, and many of these same players are the first to complain that their game never seems to improve.

Well, duh.

Truth is, I've found myself in that same mind-set a few times over the years. And like many players, it wasn't that I didn't want to practice, it was that I didn't have the time (or at least I thought I didn't have the time to practice).

While I'm not sure if the following tips will help you get some practice in, I can attest that they helped me considerably. Here's what I did:

I took one year (2004) and told myself at the beginning of the year that half of the golf that I would play during the year would be "practice" golf. Yes, I did go on the course with my golfing buddies and play "competitive" golf, but only half the time. The other half of my games were played with no interest whatsoever in the scorecard. Every other round of golf that I played, I played for myself. I would take shots that were not my usual shots, just to see what happened and to see if I could get out of them. Breaking my usual routine was invaluable in learning new skills and new ways to approach the hole.

And it wasn't nearly as hard as it may sound.

If you play a certain course a lot, you simply look at each hole as if it were brand new. Don't take the safe shot that you've trained yourself to take on a particular hole. Think of another way to get off the tee, a different trajectory for the ball and then follow each later shot from these new lays. It's fun, it's challenging, and it will improve your arsenal of shot skills.

To take the pressure off me, I did this (as I mentioned earlier) without a scorecard. I wasn't trying to "win" on these practice days. I was trying to "learn".

The second thing I did during this year was think about "time management". Like most of you, I can't just disappear for hours to play or practice on the course. So, I decided to come up with some home based practice techniques. It was during this time that I learned how valuable it is to record yourself on video tape for later review. You don't need to hit a real ball (you can use a plastic practice ball for drives and chips) in your back yard. The important thing is to make the same swing that you always make and then review that swing to determine your weaknesses.

Practice isn't something that we "should" do. Practice is something we "must" do if we want to improve our game. The thing is to find the practice sessions that work for you and for your schedule.

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Robert Partain has been an avid golfer for over 40 years. He publishes a golf blog that is updated 4 times a week with golf tips, techniques, and information.

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