How to make your golf practice more beneficial

A few weeks ago I was hitting some balls on the practice fairway. It was late afternoon and there wasn’t anyone else about – the perfect environment to get lost in your thoughts, explore, learn and have some fun.

I don’t practice that often, but when I do I rarely hit the same shot two times in a row. I hit an array of shots, low ones, high ones and I attempt to maneuver the ball both ways. This is the only way I feel I get something from the practice session. If I don’t play around, I get bored and feel I get exercise rather than any beneficial improvement.

For some reason I was getting a little bored. Even though I was enjoying the experience of being outside and feeling club whack ball, I was getting distracted and tired of the usual routine. In most instances this is a sign to stop, go do something else or call it a day. Today I decided to ramp the practice session up a little.

When most of us practice our golf we choose peachy lies. We sit the ball up on a nice bit of grass and hit away. This is all fine and dandy but we’re not always pushing ourselves.

A perfect lie

So I looked around and found a nasty bit of turf with lots of divots. I plonked some balls down and started hitting. The poor lie forced my mind to be on the job. Any slight mishit was punished with a poor result and any boredom was punched out of me.

A nasty golf divot – perfect to challenge yourself in a practice session

“how else can I challenge myself further?”, I asked. This was quite a bit of fun and I wanted more.

I grabbed some pills and headed for a nearby bunker. The sand was fine and fluffy and if I was going to hit some good shots the contact needed to be spot on. My first shot was no good – I hit the ball fat and it was miles short of the target.

A challenging lie from the sand

After a few minutes I was in the zone – clipping the ball from the sand and watching it fly true. Hitting different shots was certainly difficult but in most instances I was getting some success. Before I knew it I had killed 30 minutes and felt I had a challenging and worthwhile session.

If you find practice boring or you feel you’re not getting anywhere with your practice sessions, then maybe you need to challenge yourself further. While hitting perfect shots from perfect lies seems like a good idea, sometimes you must push your learning system.

If nothing else you’ll learn something new and when faced with the “normal” it will appear so much easier. How else can you ramp up your practice session?

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  • Cam280

    Reply Reply November 4, 2012

    No one likes to practise in the rain?, I thought thats exactly what I need to do, so I went to my local golf club and when I arrived the Club Pro was practising in the rain, except he was playing flop shots under the eave off the Pro Shops front door mat over the cart path and garden on to the practise green.

    • Cameron

      Reply Reply November 5, 2012

      All practice is better than none. I like his effort and inventiveness.

  • Mike Divot

    Reply Reply November 4, 2012

    “Clipping the ball from the sand” … Cam, what’s your view on taking divots. I’ve heard many times that you have to “compress” the ball and to do that, you “must” take a divot.

    What’s your view on taking divots versus “clipping” the ball? (I’m talking about fairway shots.)

    • Cameron

      Reply Reply November 5, 2012

      @Mike: The idea is you want to strike the ball first and then take a divot. You never strike the ground first but it is amazing how many do and don’t notice. This is why some practice from a fairway bunker is such a good drill – it exaggerates any contact issues. It also focuses your mind on the task and pushes you further.

      Sometimes in really fine sand you may need to clip the ball – this is harder still and will then make normal shots from the fairway easy. In all instances you really are hitting the ball with a slightly descending blow. It may feel like you’re “clipping” when in actual fact you’re hitting down on the pill. Hope this makes sense.


  • Grayden Provis

    Reply Reply November 5, 2012

    Just read this about the insomnia epidemic in the world today:

    “Most sleep problems are psychological obstacles that we put in sleep’s way. Like all things we should do automatically, when we deliberately try to do them we screw up. Adopt a relaxed, confident approach to sleep, not a neurotic, panic-stricken one. Recognise there’s a right and a wrong kind of effort. Your role model is the ‘careless sleeper’.”

    Replace “sleep” with “golf” you’ve got Cam’s golf method 🙂

    • Cameron

      Reply Reply November 6, 2012

      Most sleep problems are psychological obstacles that we put in sleep’s way.

      Except when you’re in QLD and the sun comes up before 5am.

      But it’s true. When you try and get to sleep you almost always have a restless night. We’re strange creatures that’s for sure.

  • Gregor

    Reply Reply November 6, 2012

    Such a simple idea, Cameron.
    On a similar vein, I actually got some practice at the weekend but had to take my 4 year old with me as an excuse to get out. I put some balls down for him and said he was to put his hands together on the club and then whack them. Nothing else. Now since we were at the short game area I was a bit nervous especially when he hit one from the green. I said remember to hit the ball not the ground. He looked at me as if I was daft and proceeded to hit the ball cleanly time after time. When he holed a shot I thought he was going to explode he was so excited. Amazing.

    • Cameron

      Reply Reply November 6, 2012

      Gregor: Brilliant. It’s always good when the little people can teach us a thing or two. Most of us adults are quite daft.

  • Troy Vayanos

    Reply Reply November 11, 2012

    Nice post Cameron,

    This is definitely a good idea. I find it a bit difficult to do at my local golf course or driving range. It’s not really set up to give yourself those sort of lies.

    I do know the pros regularly practice shots out of the thick rough and anything else unusual that they may encounter during a tournament.

    • Cameron

      Reply Reply November 11, 2012

      Troy: sometimes we need to be a bit adventurous. In this case I started hitting full shots from the greenside bunkers on the practice green. You can use the course during quiet times or think outside the box.

      The pros are experts at this. They will always practice the tougher shots and work on problem shots they MAY encounter on a course.

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