The joke among PGA Professionals is that you usually hear “You’re a golf pro? Must be great to play golf all the time!” That’s usually met by a wry smile and a shake of the head, as every PGA Professional knows that there is much more to our jobs than playing golf. In my case, as I work on building a clientele in my teaching business, I am actually playing less than I did when I was working at Woodmore.
I didn’t think that was possible, considering I played very sporadically, but if I take a day off now – I don’t get paid! It’s sometimes a simple matter of economics and making the best decision for my long term success. However, it’s tough at times to not get out there and play, especially when we all know that the driving range is much different than the golf course. All of this has me re-thinking how I am practicing, and it may help you as well.
Usually, when I have time between lessons, I will work on my swing a bit by hitting some balls and using a mirror. This is good work at times and can be helpful, but perhaps wasted time when weighed against how much I get out on the golf course. We know that you won’t hit 15 pitching wedges in a row on the golf course, so why practice that way? It seems to me, and some of my fellow PGA & LPGA Pros on Twitter have mentioned this as well, that practicing like you play is the best way to use the majority of your range time.
As an example, you might warm up a bit with some wedges, then pull out the driver. Go through your “on course” routine, and hit ONE shot. Then put the driver away and hit an iron, choosing one that would fit the shot you just hit with the driver or for a particular golf course. If you hit a bad one, pull out a wedge and hit a chip or pitch to a target, simulating the recovery shot needed. There is definitely something to be said for a true “dress rehearsal”, especially in golf where practice time is tough to come by for the average person.
The thinking behind this type of practice is that when you go on the golf course you will have less anxiety surrounding your shots, as you will have practiced the feeling of only having one real chance to hit a shot each time you pick up a club. I think this type of training has some real merit, and I plan on giving it a try to see if my results improve when I go out to the course to play. This is not to say that some work on your form and mechanics isn’t necessary or valuable, but there is a time to work on your swing, and another to play the game. Give it a try next time you go to the range and see how it changes your game – I’ll keep you posted on how it works for me.