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Why You’re Probably Practicing Golf All Wrong

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There are tons of golf instruction articles out there that tell you how to practice. The problem with them is that every golfer isn’t created equal (sorry, spoiler alert). The way Jason Day practices is not how Joe 20-Handicap should practice.

There’s a trend right now in golf instruction articles; so many of them are saying how bad it is to just go out and hit 7 iron after 7 iron or hit three buckets of balls. They sing the praise of visualization and practicing shots you see out on the course. They want you to play competitive games on the range that simulate pressure.

For most players who have been playing golf for a while, I couldn’t agree more. These ways of practicing are great… once you have found your swing or have lowered your handicap enough.

Beginners

The truth is that a beginning golfer would benefit a lot more from smacking 7 irons for two hours then they would hitting one 7 iron and then moving to a driver, then a sand wedge, and so on. That beginner may not have the movement pattern ingrained just yet, or he or she may struggle with different-length clubs.

I also encourage all my beginners to tee the ball up: all of them, all the time. This includes shots on the course. Learning the golf swing is hard enough without adding in the complexities of deep rough, tight lies, and slope. Introducing those variables all at once is a recipe for disaster for a beginning golfer. The last thing I want any beginner to do is quit, and if teeing the ball up helps them get the ball in the air more often and progress the ball a little further, then I’m all for it. The more fun they have, the more likely they are to come back.. and that also makes it more likely they will get better at the golf.

Joe 20-Handicap

Then there is Joe 20-handicap. He has been playing for 15 years and is a member at the local club. He gets to play on weekends and tries his best to get in a practice session or two on the range. Oh, he also has a 50-hour work week, a wife, and two kids.

Joe barely has time to play golf on Saturday morning, let alone go to the range for marathon practice sessions. I would recommend that he take a lesson at the beginning, middle and end of the season. Each lesson will give him a small piece of something to work on, so if Joe can find 5 minutes to sneak to the garage to swing a club, he should take that time as a golden ticket. Those 5 minutes should be spent being very mechanical and focusing on one or two positions in his swing he knows he has to get to. All he is trying to do is develop the feel he needs to hit the shot he wants. The beauty of the short sessions is Joe can put them in almost every day, and that is huge to keep him motivated.

The “Players”

Lastly, there are the “players.” Players are golfers who we all envy; they somehow have the greatest jobs in the world, the most understanding significant others, a single-digit handicap, and the swing of a tour pro. These golfers are always at the club; they get to play two-to-three times per week and you can always find them on the range grinding away. The best part about these golfers is that they have the time to get better, which is the best training aid anyone can ever buy. They should spend as much time as they can out on the course: not just playing the course, but creating shots, playing games, mixing up tee boxes, and playing for some spare change. When they do get to the range, they should be working on routine and visualizations. They should play games and challenge themselves on every shot. Every shot has to have a purpose.

All golfers are different, and that they need to look at their practice different. Next time, before you hit the range or the course, think about what will benefit your game the most and don’t be afraid to change your normal routine.

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Dan Gaucher is a Teaching Professional at Lyman Orchards Golf Club in Connecticut. He also host a very successful podcast called "Rebel With Out A Par". Dan also has experience in the health and fitness industry which has allowed him to further understand the biomechanics of the body and how it correlates to the golf swing. Dan enjoys being a student of both the human body and the game of golf. Dan works with players of all abilities from beginners to aspiring professionals.

31 Comments

31 Comments

  1. James G

    Jul 7, 2017 at 9:17 am

    Have to challenge yourself without going overboard. For example, if you’re struggling, give yourself a wider area to hit a shot then slowly narrow that down. Change directions on the range too. Like hit some center, right and left with the wide areas that eventually get narrowed. Work in, like with irons, shots that go higher and lower once you get better at it.

    All that being said, the best practice I’ve ever done that helped my game was to play a course on the range that I know well. Give myself more narrow areas to hit the ball than I would have on the course. Score it too in maybe a bit more penalizing way. Improve that score on the range then the course becomes easy.

  2. Dave R

    Jul 6, 2017 at 9:14 pm

    Ude . Really. You are so clever.

    • Ude

      Jul 6, 2017 at 10:14 pm

      glad you are seeking mental help for your geriatric golf disorders

  3. larry fox

    Jul 6, 2017 at 4:45 pm

    Tee it up all the time? Ok! After I hit a few off the tee at the range I can usually drop down to the mat with no problm!

  4. Dave R

    Jul 5, 2017 at 11:26 pm

    . We all have to practice to become better that’s only common sense . It does not matter what we do if you repeat it it will be ingrained in the memory and muscles . You have to practice properly in order to be good at anything. That’s why it’s best to have someone who understands the golf swing and the proper way to apply it. Not all golf pros can teach you have to be a teacher and understand the make up of who your teaching. I’m not knocking pro golfers I’m just saying thru my experience not all golf pros are good teachers. I strongly suggest that as in buying golf equipment you should look around , talk to people and find a good teacher and trust in them .

  5. Dave R

    Jul 5, 2017 at 11:25 pm

    . We all have to practice to become better that’s only common sense . It does not matter what we do if you repeat it it will be ingrained in the memory and muscles . You have to practice properly in order to be good at anything. That’s why it’s best to have someone who understands the golf swing and the proper way to apply it. Not all golf pros can teach you have to be a teacher and understand the make up of who your teaching. I’m not knocking pro golfers I’m just saying thru my experience not all golf pros are good teachers. I strongly suggest that as in buying golf equipment you should look around , talk to people and find a good teacher and trust in them . You will enjoy the game as you should and remember it’s only a game.

    • Ude

      Jul 6, 2017 at 1:13 am

      based on what you told us about your daily golf regimen its more than a game its an obsessive compulsive behavior that requires help and medication. i hope you don’t buy new clubs annually.

  6. Dave R

    Jul 5, 2017 at 10:55 pm

    I exercise every day I get out of bed ,shower, make toast, watch the news and that’s it. Then go walk 6500 yards on the golf hunt i call it hunting because that’s what we do is hunt, for our golf balls so by the end of four hours we have walked 7500 yards lots of exercise for the day. Go home relax have a nap eat go to bed and do it again the next day.

    • Ude

      Jul 6, 2017 at 1:09 am

      you need a woman, or a dog, badly because mindlessly playing golf is self-defeating. you will go from your current state of mind to a psychotic who is totally bonkers. golf is a ridiculous game if you think about it and using golf to find meaning to your pathetic life is truly sick. seek help fast.

  7. David

    Jul 5, 2017 at 9:33 pm

    I am a 56YO with a 13.8 hcp, I often post 80 or 81, can’t seem to breakthrough into the 70’s, 2nd shot after a good drive seem to be my bug a boo with 6I through 3W. I play 3-5 days a week with my local guys for small team cash. How should this guy practice? I can get to a range 2 or 3 days a week for an hour or so

    • Ude

      Jul 5, 2017 at 9:58 pm

      at 56 y.o. you are going downward physically and mentally and deteriorating fast.
      look at yer naked body in a full length mirror and ask yerself – “is that a break 80 body or is it becoming a break 90 body”?

    • Va

      Jul 7, 2017 at 2:07 am

      Move up a tee, David

  8. johnny

    Jul 5, 2017 at 9:31 pm

    The wife carries a high single digit handicap index. She never practices, never goes to the range or short game area, and doesn’t even go to the putting green before playing. Shot a one over par 73 over the weekend with a double bogey and a 3 putt bogey.

    Don’t know what will happen when she retires next month, lol.

    • Ude

      Jul 5, 2017 at 9:52 pm

      she’ll likely find and new ‘johnny’ and dump the old johnny who is a duffer on the course and bed

  9. Grizz01

    Jul 5, 2017 at 9:17 pm

    “Practice does not make for perfect, perfect practice makes for perfect.” -Jon Lanier

    • Ude

      Jul 5, 2017 at 9:54 pm

      practice won’t help if your body is decrepit and your brain is shallow like most goffers

  10. Iverson

    Jul 5, 2017 at 7:10 pm

    We talkin’ about practice? … we talkin’ about practice? …. we not talkin’ about game? …. we talkin’ about practice!!!

  11. Old Putter

    Jul 5, 2017 at 4:48 pm

    I don’t practice…
    I just play

    • Ude

      Jul 5, 2017 at 7:16 pm

      children and losers don’t practice they only ‘play’
      real men and winners practice a lot and they ‘perform’

      • Matt

        Jul 5, 2017 at 9:38 pm

        Well that escalated quickly…

        • Ude

          Jul 5, 2017 at 9:50 pm

          old putter is on the down escalator and i’m on the up escalator

          • Garrett

            Jul 6, 2017 at 7:42 pm

            you seem negative. playing is better not for experience there’s no doubt about it.

            • Ude

              Jul 6, 2017 at 7:54 pm

              huh? I’m ‘negative’?
              none of my comments are ‘negative’
              your comment contains two ‘negatives’ … “not” and “no”
              so who’s ‘negative’?

  12. peter collins

    Jul 5, 2017 at 3:01 pm

    You would be thrown off our golf course, for this type of play, practice of this kind is frowned upon at our course, and should be kept to the range.

  13. Andrew S

    Jul 5, 2017 at 12:23 pm

    i agree with teeing it up for beginners. i do worry it engrains this swing and hitting down later on maybe very difficult. I’d recommend making every hole a par 3 for a while. My son started at age 7 and he played the personal par 3’s for a years and eventually played the ladies tees and is now on a men’s tees. The early success really helped him in the long run.

  14. Desmond

    Jul 5, 2017 at 11:02 am

    You’re correct; people don’t practice correctly. I’m in the middle of taking lessons, and I take a 8i-PW and just do my drills to ingrain new habits.

    For beginners, I’d say move up a few clubs to practice – 9i-PW.

    Like your advice for teeing it up for beginners. I have a 10 yr old who doesn’t appreciate hard work but likes to play – teeing it up in the fairway ’till he gets close is a good idea to make it more fun for him until he wants to play without a tee.

  15. Tom1

    Jul 5, 2017 at 11:00 am

    What about mid cappers… are we doin it right

    • Branson Reynolds

      Jul 5, 2017 at 12:24 pm

      Damn right we are!

    • Tim

      Jul 5, 2017 at 2:37 pm

      I hope you meant train 3 times weekly?

      • ooffa

        Jul 6, 2017 at 10:03 am

        The only train you should be concerned about is Amtrack. Get you out of here!

      • Tim

        Jul 7, 2017 at 5:06 pm

        No one successfully trains three times daily… a clear indication of your ignorance.

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