Crossing the Bridge

by Michael Riggs

“I can’t seem to get my success on the range to translate onto the course.”

While the number of hours and swings spent practicing should improve your overall game, it does not guarantee rapid, or even consistent, improvement. There are two critical flaws with most player’s practices: a lack of organization and a shortage of realism. Their practice time is very scattered and it doesn’t adequately resemble the challenges they’ll face when playing an actual competitive round of golf.

Are you the type that immediately pulls out a driver and hits shot after shot after shot?

Do you jump from club to club without rhyme or reason?

Do you spend less than one-third of your practice time with a putter in your hand?

If you answered “Yes!” to any of these questions, you need to re-think your practice strategy. Here are two simple ways to improve the quality of your practice and have the time spent on the range translate into better scores.

First, become more organized with your practice time. Go to your local office supply store and pick yourself up a small notebook. Before each practice, take the time to write down what it is that you’re going to spend your time on. Use your stats from recent scorecards to determine these areas. For example, if your average putts-per-round has jumped from 30 to 34 the last four rounds, you should emphasize your putting in practice. The same goes for fairways-in-regulation, ups-and-downs, and so on. Your on-course performance stats need to act as the guide for your practice sessions. Connect your round performance to your practice plans through information gathered from recent scorecards and create a practice script BEFORE you begin your practice session. This will improve your scores immediately.

Second, make your practices more realistic. The primary reason that players are generally better at the range than on the course is because there is no pressure to perform during practice. Then, on the course the player finds himself over a putt with a nickel, bragging rights, a medal, or good ol’ pride on the line and the voices of doubt begin to sing. While it’s impossible to completely simulate the pressure of competition while practicing, you can improve your overall ability to stay calm, focused, and confident by making practice more competitive. Be sure to hit at least one-third of your practice shots using your full routine. This is how you play, so it makes sense to practice with full routine. Next, work competition, either with yourself or a practice partner, into every practice session. By placing yourself in a “performance mode” while practicing, you’ll improve your ability to perform when it really counts – on the course, of course.

S² Tip

Make a plan to follow before you begin practice and add competition to all your practice sessions.


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