In a series that I have always wanted to write, I am going to write a reflection piece that describes what I did to achieve a handicap of scratch. I don’t believe many people really talk in depth about what exactly they did to get results and when they do, it’s usually a flash Instagram teenager or an interview with an Ex – Tour player, which can be very difficult to relate to.
I started playing golf properly when I was 13/14 and yes, I did read Nick Faldo’s book and believed you had to practise every waking hour to get better. This lasted probably a year or two, truly because I did not love the driving range, I certainly did not enjoy the solitude of being alone for a few hours in the morning, and I had no self-actualisation in that process of golf.
Before I start, I did play a lot of Golf. I was at this time playing minimum 3 rounds of golf a week with my friends. However, when it came to practising I believe it’s the same in Golf as it is Business, yes work hard, but always work SMART.
Firstly, I practised mostly on my SHORT GAME, and I practised effectively. Even if it was for 30 minutes, I would visualise every shot and I would complete my pre-shot routine. If I did go out for 9 holes on my own, I was certainly (if able to) stopping on one of the greens and chipping and putting on that green for 20 minutes.
I would pick 9 locations around the green and try and get up and down, with every up and down being a par. A chip in would be a birdie and a chip and 2 put, a bogey. I would then track these scores over time to see how I improved, believe me, you will.
This made practising more FUN and definitely more EFFECTIVE because I was treating every shot exactly the same. Regardless to weather it was a chip in the evening, or a final shot in a medal. I was practising my mind, my routine, and my technique so when I was level par with 4 holes to go, everything was well rehearsed.
Secondly, on the driving range (when I was present) I went through my whole pre-shot routine (click here for my article on the pre-shot routine). Visualising the shots, and then executing in full, ensuring I changed clubs and targets after each shot. The reason I did this was to keep the mind switched on and try to practise like I was actually on the course. I would hit a Driver and then a 100 yard Gap Wedge. A Long Iron followed by a 9 Iron. By doing this I was PRACTISING GOLF, not practising striking a golf ball.
Now I am aware that occasionally we need to work on technical aspects of the swing, and there is certainly a time to do that. However, 90% of the time, unless I was working on something technical, I practised effectively by treating my time on the range like my time on the course.
So if you are someone that likes to practise on the driving range or hit some chips and puts, next time think. How can I make my practise more effective? Then action your time accordingly.