Let me start with a classic quote from Gary Player,
“The harder I practice, the luckier I get”.
This quote can be true as it is obvious if you look around when you are at the range or at your club you see that the better players are out there practicing quite often. But what we don’t see is that they are also practicing when we aren’t there to see them and they have ‘practice plans’ that they work to. Better players don’t just hit heaps of balls when they practice. They practice smart.
Smart Golf Practice.
- Set a goal and a timeframe. Eg. I want to reduce my handicap from 20 to 10 over 15 months.
- Be realistic. Are you prepared to put in the time, planning and commit to the cost of lessons.
- Analyze your current game. Everything from alignment, setup, posture, flexibility, strength, length of backswing, swing plane, grip. Long game, short game, bunkers, putting and course management must be examined, rated and addressed in a structured formal way.
- Set up a spreadsheet to create an analytical structure, also get a small spirax type notebook to carry in your pocket with key points on it to help you remember key elements you have been working on.
- So far it’s obvious that it is more than just heading down the range.
- Mental capacity. Do you have the discipline to maintain your commitment ? Do you have the positivity to help you through periods of slow improvement. Can you reshape negative thoughts out on the course. Practice for hours and hours and go out on the first hole, have a double bogey and be able to put it behind you?
- Be a good sport. Enjoy the game.
- Video analysis – you need this regularly if you want to play better. Swing elements are more obvious on video and corrections can be observable. Can be simple as using your own iphone or getting a pro to do it.
- Time – what are you prepared to put in. What sacrifices are you making? Do you want to do it?
- Don’t think that better players don’t do this – they do!
- Never 3 putt.
- Learn how to hit the same shot (Eg; a short approach) with a variety of clubs.
- Work out how far you hit each club.
- Learn how to hit a “knockdown“ shot.
- Learn how to move the ball left and right.
Searching the internet again, I found that some golf schools have their participants spending 66% of their time hitting balls inside 90m to the pin and 33% of their stroke volume (balls hit) out side 90m. There is no doubt that short game is king.
An example of serious golfers do – 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55, 60, 65, 70, 75, 80, 85, 90m wedge shots approx 1600 balls each over 70 weeks. That’s not all…
Chip, Pitch, Lob, Sand, and Trouble shots 3000 balls each.
1, 2, 3, 4m putts 3000 balls each and 10-30m putts a whopping 7000 balls !!
(source; Pro Tour Golf College )
Well, we are not training to be pros but that is an example of what is done in the pursuit to be good. You can see the detail to distance control, repetition required and time invested. That is with someone that can swing a club!
Here is the proof that Practice makes it PERMANENT. (Neuro plasticity)
The Journal of Neuroscience 2011 Bezzola et al , showed in neuroimaging studies in the field of motor learning (golf practice) that learning a new skill induces specific changes of neural gray and white matter in human brain areas necessary to control the practiced task.
A group of golfers practiced a total of 40 hours over an average 150 days for the group . A control group of similar age matched people who didn’t practice were also scanned
The practice group of golf novices who were aged between the age of 40 and 60 years, showed observable positive changes of critical brain areas that control motor skills, in an age period when there is an assumed cognitive decline. (Yippee there is hope for us yet!!)
The areas scanned were the regions providing visuomotor skills, typically associated with motor learning (i.e., subcortical and cerebellar motor areas) as well as frontal associative regions concerned with more cognitive aspects of motor-skill acquisition (Doyon and Benali, 2005). The group who didn’t practice showed no neuro changes in the brain.