Having the opportunity to watch a lot of people practice and work on their games, one of the biggest things I see is that people don't know how to practice and that they don't practice the right things.
One of the most common things people tell me is they practice all the time but never get better. Follow these guidelines and I guarantee your game will improve.
As I watch people practice, something I see frequently is that the first club people pull out of their bag and start hitting is the driver. Also, many times this is the only club they use in their practice session. The driver is typically the most difficult club to hit and the most difficult to groove a golf swing.
When you go to the driving range, start your practice session with a short iron (8 or 9) and work your way into longer clubs. Short clubs are easier to hit solid and groove a swing. If you're hitting the ball solid with short clubs this will carry over into long irons and woods.
The second mistake I see people make is not choosing a target when practicing. In making an efficient golf swing, how we align our body in relationship to the target is critical. If a golfer is not lined up correctly to their target, the golfer will create a swing to try to get the ball back to the target. More than likely this won't be an effective golf swing.
When practicing, always have a specific target in mind. To learn proper alignment lay two clubs on the ground. One club should be on the target line and the other club, our body line, should be parallel to the first.
Another reason why golfer's games do not improve is a lack of time spent practicing the short game. I rarely see people practice their chipping or pitching. No matter what level a player is at, chipping and pitching the golf ball account for a huge percentage of the player's score.
If a player would only spend a small amount of their practice time chipping and pitching the ball their scores would improve. Practice with different clubs, 7-iron through sand wedge, and learn how each club reacts. What is the trajectory of each club? How much does the ball roll with each club? Where does the golf ball have to land to finish near the hole?
Finally, when practicing putting, don't just hit putts. Work first on making a good stroke and second on distance control.
An excellent way to build a good stroke is to find a straight putt and start three feet from the hole. Try making five putts in a row. After you make five, move to six feet and make five in a row. Continue with this process up to 12 feet. This gets a player used to the ball going in the hole, creates a solid stroke, and builds confidence.
To practice distance control, put a ball at 3, 6, 9, 12, 15 and 18 feet. Start at the first ball and work your way back. Concentrate on leaving each ball within several inches of the hole. Do this several times from different places on the putting green.
If you are going to practice your golf game, do it with a purpose. Follow these guidelines and I promise your practice sessions will start to produce results.
CHRIS FOLEY can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-800-642-5363.
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