How to Better Your Game with Practice
News

How to Better Your Game with Practice

Support our Mission. We independently test each product we recommend. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission.

How to Better Your Game with Practice

We all know someone who spends countless hours on the driving range hitting golf balls. They talk about how they are “grinding” to improve but rarely does it correlate to lower scores on the course. The reason? There’s a BIG difference between hitting balls on the range and practicing. Anyone can head to the driving range and mash golf balls till their hands hurt but to truly improve, practice sessions need to be focused and performed with the intent of honing your swing and skills.

Building and sticking to a consistent practice routine may help you improve your ball striking, lower your scores and lead to an overall increase in the joy golf brings you. Let’s take a look at how to create an effective practice routine, some drills to perform that benefit each aspect of the game and how much time you should spend on it.

Creating an Effective Routine

There are a few key areas when looking at building an effective practice routine for improving our golf game.

Set specific, measurable and attainable goals for each practice session

The SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time-bound) goal-setting system is beneficial for many aspects of our day-to-day life, including golf. We can benefit from creating SMART goals for our practice routine as it gives us a clear direction of what we are aiming to achieve and how we can go about doing it. An example of this may be to make 75 percent or more of your putts from six feet during a practice session. It is also important to log your results when using the SMART system so you can track your progress.

Create a consistent routine

Consistent practice equals consistent results. It can take anywhere from 300 to 500 repetitions to master a new movement or change to your golf swing. This is why we may go from hitting the ball really well on the range trying a new “feel” to not being able to find the center of the clubface as soon as we step on the course. Golf is not a game of instant fixes. It takes time and consistency to make noticeable change and improvement.

Quality over quantity

Another important factor to practice sessions is the quality of work you’re putting in. You can spend 30 minutes of deliberate, focused practice time on the range and be much more effective in making progressive improvement than an hour or more of mindlessly swinging the golf club. If the latter sounds like your current “routine,” you’re not really practicing.

An aspect of quality over quantity really comes to focus on the putting green. Your focus should be on putts that have a big impact on your final score, typically from six to 10 feet. This range will help with improving your overall putting stroke which will translate to longer putts as well. Focus on shorter daily blocks of time if possible versus long and infrequent practice sessions.

Use technology to your advantage (if accessible)

We live in a data-driven world and it has never been easier to collect ball flight data from our swings using personal launch monitors like Rapsodo’s MLM2PRO, Garmin’s R10 and Flightscope’s Mevo+ (to name a few). There are multiple options for less than $1,000 and the insight you can gather from these will help you better understand what needs to change in your swing to improve your ball striking.

There are also shot-tracking devices available from companies like Shot Scope that allow you to track in-round data, providing insight to aspects of your game you may need to work on more than others.

Seek help from an instructor

If you’re struggling to diagnose what is wrong with your swing or aren’t sure which drills will help you achieve your goals, seeking the help of a PGA coaching professional is a great option to start improving your game. Whether it is in person and on the range with a local pro or with an online coach through an app like Skillest, there is no shortage of opportunities!

With coaches offering varying packages and price points, Skillest is a great option for those who value and benefit from video feedback. I am a visual learner and have found progress and improvement much faster working with a Skillest coach who breaks down my swing so that I can see what I need to work on.

Change it up

Make sure to work on different aspects of your game within your practice routine. For example, if your focus during a practice session is on full iron shots, practice partial swings and recovery shots in your next session. If you’re working on shots around the green, give yourself different lies to get a feel for how the ball will react and how you’ll need to manipulate the club to hit certain shots.

The game of golf is anything but predictable. While we’d love to have clean lies out of the fairway every time, unfavorable situations are inevitable. By changing up our practice routine for those situations, we improve our odds of a favorable result on the course.

What Drills Should I Incorporate?

Now that we’ve laid out a general structure to our approach to practicing, we need to implement some drills. Note that while the drills on this list are a great place to start, you must perform the ones that impact your game the most. Let’s take a look at a drill for aspects of the game that you can incorporate into future practice sessions to start working towards increased consistency—and lower scores—the next time you hit the course.

Putting

The number of drills you can perform to improve your putting is limitless. From improving your stroke consistency, start line and distance control, there is no shortage of options.

The Clock Drill

This putting drill incorporates consistency and distance control by putting from multiple positions around the hole. Here’s how you’ll perform it:

  • Insert tees at two, three, four, five and six feet at the 12, 3, 6,and 9 o’clock positions around a hole.
  • Working in a clockwise pattern, make all the putts from two feet, then move one foot farther out and make those, and so on until all putts have been made. If you miss a putt, start over or allow yourself just one miss from five and six feet.
    • NOTE: If you have limited space or are using a shared practice green, modify the drill by rolling all putts from one position of the clock before moving onto the next. This reduces the number of tees you’ll need to use as well.

Around the Green – Chipping

In a perfect world, we’d all hit every green in regulation. However, even the best golfers in the world miss the green, making the ability to chip, and chip well,  an incredibly important part of our game. Strokes can be gained and lost based on how well we execute drills around the green. Give this drill a try to improve your skills.

The “Hinge and Hold” Drill

Regardless of how you feel about him, Phil Mickelson is a master around the greens when it comes to chipping. Made popular by Lefty in “Secrets of the Short Game,” the “hinge and hold” drill helps to dial in the stroke that can be used for a majority of shots around the green. Phil’s keys to success are as follows:

  • Narrow stance
  • Break your wrist immediately in the takeaway
  • Hold position and accelerate through the ball
  • Arm and club form a straight line at the finish

These points of emphasis keep the arm and club moving together and the leading edge and bounce of the club consistent. Mastering this basic chip shot is a great first step in improving your game around the green.

Iron Striking

The Gate Drill

Nothing beats the feeling of flushing an iron. It is one of the things that gets new golfers hooked on the game and something seasoned veterans are continually chasing. If you struggle with heel or toe misses, this drill can help to get you re-centered on your swing and is incredibly simple to set up.

  • Take your 7-iron and place it on the ground.
  • Take one tee and insert it into the ground outside of the toe and inside the heel of your club.
  • Start with quarter and half swings, getting through the gate without hitting either tee. Once you are able to do this with some consistency, increase the length of your backswing until you reach a full swing. 
  • Introduce a ball and start again with short swings, focusing on center contact and missing the tees. Follow the same progression used initially without the ball.

Driver

The Split-Handed Drill

If a drill is good enough for Rory, it is good enough for every amateur. The split-handed driver drill aims to help you feel the correct position of the trail arm on the backswing and downswing. When our trail arm is in the right spot, it makes approaching the ball with a square clubface much easier.

  • Begin with a standard grip and set up at address, then take your bottom hand and move it to the point where your grip ends. Grip the shaft just below the grip itself.
  • Hinge the wrists so the club is parallel with the ground, then turn to the top of your backswing and then down through transition. This will give you a great feel of the position your trail arm should be both at the top and when delivering the club.
  • Perform a few repetitions, then take your normal grip and hit a shot, focusing on replicating those feels.

An added benefit of this drill is that you do not need to be on the range or hitting a ball to perform it. You can perform this daily at home to continue to ingrain that feel of the trail arm.

Final Thoughts

There’s no denying that a dedicated and consistent practice routine will improve our golf game. What is important to keep in mind is that while all the tips and drills listed in this article are beneficial, some may work for you and some may not. Finding what fits your game and your preferred learning style is equally as important, if not more so. Use these elements when creating and planning your practice routine to help build a structured plan that will have you lowering your scores—and increasing your enjoyment of the game—the next time you hit the course.

For You

For You

First Look
Jun 12, 2024
Want a Personal Shopper? Try Short Par 4
Drivers
Jun 11, 2024
Callaway Paradym Ai Smoke Ti 340 Mini Driver
Putters
Jun 11, 2024
Triple Black Evnroll 38 Tour Spec Putters
Jason Noble

Jason Noble

Jason Noble

Jason is a mid-handicap golfer chasing single digits who calls Wisconsin home. When not on the course, you can find him at the lake spending time with his wife and two children or in the woods chasing whitetails.

Jason Noble

Jason Noble

Jason Noble

Jason Noble

Jason Noble

Jason Noble

Jason Noble

Jason Noble

Jason Noble





    This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

      cksurfdude

      3 weeks ago

      “Consistent practice equals consistent results. It can take anywhere from 300 to 500 repetitions to master a new movement or change to your golf swing.” … haha I need to add a few more Zeroes to those numbers… 🤣

      Reply

      Andrew the Great!

      3 weeks ago

      “Working in a clockwise pattern…”

      On the Clock Drill for putting, why does it matter that you work in a clockwise, rather than counterclockwise, pattern, or no pattern at all?

      Reply

      Rudy Torrico

      3 weeks ago

      THANKS. Great stuff and good advice. MGS continues to be my daily read…

      Reply

    Leave A Reply

    required
    required
    required (your email address will not be published)

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    First Look
    Jun 12, 2024
    Want a Personal Shopper? Try Short Par 4
    Drivers
    Jun 11, 2024
    Callaway Paradym Ai Smoke Ti 340 Mini Driver
    Putters
    Jun 11, 2024
    Triple Black Evnroll 38 Tour Spec Putters