Practice doesn’t make perfect. Practice makes permanent. Perfect practice makes perfect!
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had someone come into the golf shop and ask for 2 or 3 buckets of balls because they needed to “Practice” so they could work out a problem they were having. When asked what their plan was to work this out, the answer I usually get is something like, “Hitting lots of balls till I get it back”!!
Maybe we need to check the definition of “Practice”. My dictionary defines practice as, “To exercise. . . for instruction or improvement or for the acquisition of discipline, proficiency, or dexterity”. Again, “For the acquisition of Discipline/Proficiency”. That sounds like work!! Hitting balls sounds more fun to me.
Practice is work!! When you practice you need to have an agenda beyond moving your pile of practice balls from the tee out onto the range. Without a plan you might as well give your buckets of balls to someone who has more of a plan than pounding lots of balls! This will free up some time for you to do something you really enjoy.
Don’t have a plan? For what it’s worth, here is mine. I won’t go to the Practice area if I don’t have a minimum of 1 hour to spend on my Practice session. I do some stretching and then pull out my sand wedge and make a few easy swings. I like starting with this club because it’s the heaviest club in the bag and helps me stretch and get ready to Practice. It’s also one of the shortest clubs so I don’t have as much of a tendency to see how far I can hit the ball with it.
Next, I’ll start smoothing a few shots towards the range. I don’t really care where they go, I’m just trying to finish loosening up and see what sort of tempo I have going that day. Then I’ll start focusing on a target a comfortable distance away. After 10-15 shots like this, I’m ready to start working on something, whether it is tempo, take-away, position at the top, a specialty shot, whatever. When I consistently produce the shot I want with the sand wedge, I move on to the 8-iron, then the 6, and so on. If I maintain the discipline I’m after, good. If not, I back up to a shorter club until I have the discipline back.
When I Practice I am working EVERY swing. And, I’m making Practice swings as well. Every 3 or 4 shots I take a break to evaluate what I’m doing, how I’m progressing and to let my body relax. A Practice session for me lasts about 60 minutes. During a session, I hit between 60 and 75 balls – that’s it!! Any more than that and my mind begins to wander. I lose interest, I start hitting trick shots or who knows what. 60 balls in 60 minutes – think about it!!
Practicing is work, physically and especially mentally. Don’t try it if you’re not ready to put in the time and effort! Otherwise, you are just practicing to make permanent!
Kim Anders is Director of Golf at Estrella del Mar Golf & Beach Resort in Mazatlan, Sinaloa, Mexico. You can reach Kim via email at Kanders@estrelladelmar.com or call 1.888.587.0609, Ext. 3010. Find out more about the golf resort by visiting www.estrelladelmar.com.