With the typical workday becoming an average of ten hours when it used to be eight, and the obstacles of mixing business and family responsibilities with pleasure, the average golfer has limited time to work to improve their golf game. In my opinion, golf instruction has reached higher levels with the use of video and training devices. Technology and equipment have also improved dramatically.
So why aren't the average golf handicaps going down to match these trends? The reason is that golfers don't understand how to practice effectively and make better use of their limited time to work on their game. What I try to convey to my students is: practice smarter instead of harder. The things that you can do to help improve your game aren't always at the practice range or the golf course. Here are some ideas that I feel will help you maximize your practice time.
Effective practice starts with a plan. Have an idea of what you want to accomplish before you get to the practice area. Plan your practice time as you would your workday. Write down the specific areas that you will work on for that session and the amount of time that you will spend in each area and stick to it. Locating your target is important and can't be overlooked when preparing to practice, so set up your practice station so that it is built around a specific target..
Use clubs that your are not hitting to set guides for the target line and body line so that you set your clubface and body angles correctly every time. A proper swinging motion is conceived around a consistent target line. You can use clubs laid on the ground to build your station. Use one for the target line and one for the body or stance line that is positioned parallel left of the target.
Make sure to give all areas of your game the proper amount of attention. First, you need to be honest with yourself in regard to your strengths and weaknesses. Don't just practice the areas that you are good at, try to improve your weaknesses first.
This is how you devise your plan. I suggest that you spend half of your time working on full swing, and the other half on two short game skills. Always including putting as one of the two. I see too many golfers spending lopsided amounts of time trying to perfect their long game and neglecting the short shots and putting.
This is where an expert instructor can be a big help. Everyone has things that they would like or need to change in the golf swing or their short game. Having an understanding of what your errors are, and more importantly, a plan to change them is the first step to getting the most out of your practice sessions.
You must have a clear picture of what you are doing wrong and also what you should be doing in order to change it. Seek out an instructor that you feel comfortable with and trust to help devise your plan. My advice is to find an instructor that gives a lot of lessons and has a long list of students that are improving.
Effective practice does not always take place at the range or putting green. I have witnessed several dramatic swing changes made by golfers that use a mirror to work on their swings. Being able to see and feel the correct move or position are two very important elements of learning golf or making changes in your motion.
Making practice swings or doing drills while working on your swing or even your putting stroke will change your bad habits quickly without even having to leave the house. Just a few minutes a day will allow you to use your limited practice time wisely.
PGA Professional Jason Sutton is a Master Instructor at the Dana Rader Golf School in Charlotte, N.C. Jason has been honored as a leading teacher in the southeast by Golf Magazine. He teaches students ranging from beginners to top amateurs and tour-level players.