As a teaching professional it often astounds me that so many amateurs spend their hard earned money on equipment and range balls without ever significantly improving their game. Here are three stereotypes I see every day at the range… do any of them sound familiar to you?
Good ol’ Rake n Belt
This player turns up with the largest bucket of balls and intends to hit it in world record time, raking every ball over without a specific intended target or any clear goals as to what they are trying to achieve in the session. Noticeable traits of this practiser may be a stiff neck from never actually looking up to see where the ball goes, and shortness of breath due to the high cardio session they have managed to create.
The blind leading the blind
This is one of my favourites! Here we have the blind leading the blind on the range analysing each other’s swings (maybe they even got a hold of the latest analysis app.). Both players tirelessly figure out each other’s swings with a new thought every 3 seconds as to what could potentially be going wrong (neither player has hit a fairway since Greg Norman was playing Junior Pennants, yet ultimately feel qualified to give private instruction).
7000 thoughts in 1.5 Seconds
This individual is the Over-Tryer. In all their greatest efforts they have read every magazine, got a lesson from every professional within cooee, and are trying to remember it all before they start their downswing. Look for this person buying a small bucket of balls and holding the space on a driving range for nearly 4 hours.
The average amateur really has never been taught the importance of quality training. Unfortunately Ben Hogan’s line of ‘the secret is in the dirt’ is often interpreted as ‘if I just bash the heck out of the ground I’ll get better’. If you want a bad back and a couple of hours away from your husband or wife then this method works a treat, but if you actually want to see some rewards for your efforts then you need to start training with some quality.
Rules of Training like a Professional
- Good Quality Practise = Fun. Nobody learns or wants to learn when it is a chore. Practise should not be a dirty word; it should be a challenge and an activity you look forward to. Mix it up, play some games, hit some fun shots and get creative!
- Clarity and Direction. Seek ongoing expert advice from a PGA Member, then apply what you have learnt, enjoy the process of chipping away, transforming your swing in to a more manageable and reliable movement.
- Allocate your time. Ensure when you are practising you are working on all areas of the game. Not just the parts that make you feel the best.
- Take Your Time. Take a breath between each shot! Look around, listen to the birds, even try to spot the golfers who weren’t smart enough to read this article and collapsing into the pitfalls.
Great Drills for Practise
- Play The Range-Course. Pretend you are playing the course. It could be your home course. I always loved playing Augusta and seeing what I could shoot on the back 9. Visualise the holes and notice by the end of your practise session that you may nearly use every club in your bag.
- Nine Flights: Great ball strikers can hit any shot on any occasion. Why? Because they practise this way. Give yourself Nine Balls with three different flights and trajectories, and take this test:
- Never hit the Same Chip Twice: When practising chipping, throw three golf balls and hit them from wherever they land. The brain should constantly be challenged when practising especially when we are chipping. Do this for 15 minutes and watch your touch and feel improve out of sight!
Golf is a Game. If you try to treat as anything else, it will punish you in the harshest possible way. No one ever improved their game by gritting their teeth and thinking ‘if I just get through these shots I’ll be a better player’.