Are You Getting Better?

If you were wondering whether I am watching you (the collective use, sometimes individual use of the word “you”) when you practice, the answer is: “Of Course I Am!!” It’s hard to watch people “hit balls”, “putt” or “chip” as the vast majority of golfers are simply keeping themselves in the same old rut they always live in. But I don’t want you to simply “live” the game of golf, I want you to THRIVE!

So here are my top 3 Biggest Errors and Corrections to poor practice that will help you!

  • Hit a Bucket of Balls Whether you hit golf balls here at Franklin Bridge or elsewhere, most people get the large bucket of balls and start hitting (most larges are around 100 balls). In the best cases, I see people change clubs frequently, use alignment sticks, or other training aids. Even in these cases, however, the quantity of balls hit, the time it takes to hit them, and the level of self-awareness is inhibiting performance tremendously! Without diving into the details (coming in the next few articles) as to what’s wrong here, I would make the following suggestions
  • Segment Your Practice into 7-10 balls – Pull out a small pile of balls and set a specific objective for that set. Something Like “flat left wrist at the top”, “start the backswing with my chest”, etc (whatever the specific item is FOR YOU). Then evaluate how you did at the end of that set as you take a 2-3 minute break before the next one. A few important notes:
        1. After 50 balls – go work on something else!!  You can come back and hit more later!
        2. You can change clubs whenever you want! All that matters is that you have a specific objective for each set of balls and then evaluate using feel, ball flight, or video.
  • Hole to Hole Putting – Every poor putter I know doesn’t make enough putts in their practice. Why? Because they spend too much time outside of 10’ and rarely tap in the short ones, and if they do, that tap in is too casual (and let’s be honest who hasn’t missed those tap ins before). Most people putt from outside of 10’ and do so by putting from one hole to the next (most places that’s outside of 25’), again, rarely finishing them into the hole. You want to be more confident, start closer to the hole!
  • Spend more than 70% of your practice inside 10’ – I suggest you start at 2 feet (yes TWO FEET). Make 10 in a row before moving back – and you can’t hit the same putt twice in a row – work all around the hole. Once you make 10 in a row from 2 feet, move back to 3 feet. Once you do 10 in a row from there, move back to 4’ and so on. Let me know how far you get!! 😉
  • Practice putting to the edge of the green – randomly toss out 3-5 balls at different distances from the edge of the green. Try to get each ball to stop as close to the edge of the green as possible. Poor speed control is the #1 contributor to 3-putts! Plus if your speed is bad, (and you don’t practice enough short putts to have much confidence) then those short ones start to feel a lot harder…thus perpetuating the cycle of low confidence and missed putts!
  • Not Enough Wedge Practice – Simply put, people don’t practice this area enough! Why? Because we don’t think it matters that much. (poor putting, driving, or iron play is often to blame). Tour players average just over 12 greens in regulation. That means that 33% of the time they will have a wedge shot…PLUS if you count the par 5s that would take us to over 50% of the holes you’ll have a wedge shot in!
  • Practice hitting it solid every time – Solid contact creates consistent trajectory, spin, and distance control. Lay a towel down about 4-6 inches behind the ball and practice missing it but clipping the ground even or just after impact with the ball. There are a slew of different ways to do this and different kinds of wedge shots but for most of you this is an awesome starting point. Try it from different lies and at different distances trying to see how many in a row you can get struck correctly. Then pay attention to how the ball flies, bounces, and rolls on the green!

It goes without saying that it’s time you start really practicing. Without objectives or specific action items, it is unlikely you will get much better…in many cases, I watch people (sadly) get worse!  Practice with intent, or “deliberate practice” as it’s commonly called and you’ll start making real, meaningful progress!  We have all made these mistakes, but we don’t have to keep making them! The future is yours – take control of it!