Golf Nut, I’ve heard and read a lot that says that you should focus your practice primarily on the short game. I am struggling to lower my scores from the 90’s into the 80’s. As an average golfer, what do your recommend for a practice regimen? How do you practice your golf swing effectively?
The numbers do make a case for focus on the short game. For an average golfer, on a Par 72, you would conceivably hit 14 drives, 4 fairway woods, 18 mid to short iron shots, and 36 putts. That puts approximately 70% (say 12 short iron shots + 36 putts) of your golf shots for the round in the short game category.
But also consider this, where do a lot of amateur golfers get into big trouble? If you are like me (and I’m not saying you are, so don’t take offense) it’s off the tee! Drives that go out of bounds, drives that put you in jail, and drives that force a 4 or 5 iron shot instead of what should be an 8 or 9 iron. All of these create problems for the average golfer.
And look at these numbers. 12 short iron shots, 36 putts, PLUS 14 drives equals 86% of your total shots! And with the trouble that the driver can get you in, you then start adding even more shots to your round.
So here is my 3 step golfing practice formula. This helped me move from a consistent 92-94 score to the mid-80’s:
1. First, practice at the range like you are playing a round. Instead of flailing away shot after shot with one club, then moving in frustration to the next, try the following approach. Imagine playing your favorite golf holes in your head. Hit a driver, then a short iron. If the hole is a par 3, hit a mid iron, and then maybe practice a short chip shot like you missed the green. Take time between each shot to relax and think about what went right or wrong on each shot. It’s ok to re-hit a shot if you like, but don’t just hit 5, 6, 7 shots with the same club. Overall, you can help your golf swing a lot more with this approach hitting 30 to 40 shots in a practice session than hammering 60-100 balls in the same amount of time.
2. Second, plan time after your full swing practice for time at the chipping and putting green. Take 5 balls, an iron, and your putter and work on getting up and down consistently from different areas around the green. Keep score and work towards a consistent 60-80 percent success. This type of success around the green can make up for mistakes in your golf swing.
3. Finally, work on making your 3 wood your safety valve. I found that when I put the ego aside, and was willing to use the 3 wood off the tee on those days that my driver failed me, I stayed out of trouble more consistently and my scores went down. But you need to practice enough with it to have that confidence. What was it Yogi Berra said? “About 80% of this game is half mental”. Well, he was talking about baseball, not your golf swing, but the concept applies. Many people practice almost exclusively with their driver and almost never with their 3 wood.
Try this approach and see if you don’t get results! Also, I don’t believe in tons of practice time. You can improve your golf game with a little bit of focused practice, like I talk about in these golf tips