Practice With a Purpose

John Stahlschmidt
PGA Director of Instruction
JW Marriott Camelback Golf Club
Scottsdale, AZ

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Let’s face it. Most golfers that play golf recreationally don’t have much time to practice. So, the little time you do have should be spent with a purpose. I recently heard, “What you practice you will get good at”.  If you hit thirty 7 irons in a row on the range, you will more than likely get pretty good at hitting the 7 iron. The problem is, you will never hit 30 seven irons in a row on the golf course. Truth be told, you will probably never hit two 7 irons in a row on the golf course. So, why not practice more like you play?

Next time you head to the practice facility, I want you to ask yourself, “Am I going to practice a skill today - like a swing fix, or am I going to practice the art of playing golf?” I would highly recommend spending equal time at both. If you practice your swing, go ahead and hit a bunch of the same shots over and over with the same club. This will allow you to improve your golf swing. If you are there to get better at playing golf, I suggest the following: Select 4 or 5 targets of varying lengths. Hit to each of these targets one at a time. As you perform this, make sure to go through your pre-shot routine each time. Pay attention to how many balls are getting close to your targets. Make it fun. If you select 4 different targets, go through the cycle 4 or 5 times and count how many quality shots you hit. After you complete this task, select a fairway and attempt to hit it with your driver. Practice this way and you will have more success on the golf course.

The reality is, most golfers only practice “rake and hit.” This simply means you hit the same club over and over. Chances are you will get very good at this, but again…you will never perform this on the golf course. Practice more like you play and I promise you, the scores will come down.

John Stahlschmidt is the Director of Operations at TOURAcademy and Senior Head Instructor at the TOURAcademy TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. To comment on this tip, email John at