Take Your Game from the Range to the Course

after these prac­tice ses­sions, a round of golf will feel like a ca­sual stroll

Golf Digest Middle East - - Contents - BY SEAN FO­LEY

Quick tips for bet­ter prac­tice.

If you’ve ever won­dered why you can’t repli­cate that swing you grooved on the range when you play golf, it’s be­cause tra­di­tional prac­tice habits have about as much to do with per­form­ing on the golf course as run­ning on a tread­mill does to com­plet­ing the Bos­ton Marathon. Sure, to play bet­ter golf, prac­tic­ing your swing me­chan­ics is im­por­tant. But at some point, if you’re not pre­par­ing your­self for what a round of golf is re­ally all about, your time on the prac­tice tee will be lit­tle more than just that—time on the prac­tice tee.

This is a sad statis­tic to con­sider, but more Navy SEALs have died in train­ing in the past four years than they have in com­bat. What that should tell you is their prepa­ra­tion for bat­tle is so ex­treme, they can deal with vir­tu­ally any stress­ful sit­u­a­tion they en­counter in the field. Keep that in mind when you prac­tice. In­stead of hav­ing no ac­count­abil­ity for what you do, make it as close as pos­si­ble to what it’s like on the golf course. Out there, from shot to shot, it’s pass or fail. And the more fa­mil­iar and com­fort­able you are with that en­vi­ron­ment, the bet­ter you’ll per­form when it mat­ters. Here I’ll give you some ideas to ramp up your prac­tice and get you bat­tle ready.

if you want to work

on swing me­chan­ics, a flat lie on the prac­tice tee is fine. But if you want to work on shots, you need to sim­u­late what you’ll en­counter on the course. No two lies are the same. Tall grass, short grass, no grass. Up­hill, down­hill, side­hill. These sce­nar­ios are en­coun­tered all over the course, and they fraz­zle your brain be­cause it has no memory of how to deal with them. So when­ever and wher­ever you can, prac­tice hit­ting shots in un­con­ven­tional en­vi­ron­ments.

short- game ar­eas

are a great place to spend your prac­tice time. But what I typ­i­cally see are am­a­teur golfers hit­ting a half-dozen shots from one spot, re­peat­ing the rit­ual from a cou­ple of other lies, and then go­ing to grab a beer. What they should be do­ing is hit­ting one shot from a spot, tak­ing note of what went right or wrong, and then go­ing to an­other spot and per­form­ing a com­pletely dif­fer­ent shot. The lies and shots should be re­ally di­verse and rarely re­peated con­sec­u­tively. Seve Balles­teros had a mag­i­cal short game in big part be­cause he ran­domised his prac­tice around the greens.

see if this sounds

like you. You’re go­ing to tee off in 20 min­utes, so you roll a few on the putting green to get the speed down. Your first putt misses short. The sec­ond rolls a lit­tle to the left. The third goes in. Boom. You’ve got putting locked down for the day. Uh, no, you don’t. On the course you get one ball and one chance to make a putt, so that’s how you should prac­tice. Hit a putt. Miss? Mark it and then go through your rou­tine again just like you would on the course. Keep re­peat­ing this process all over the prac­tice green, and you’ll nor­malise pressure sit­u­a­tions on the course.

when i look out

at the range picker, the coloured flags, the ar­ti­fi­cial-turf greens, I don’t see the picker, the flags or the greens. I see the tight land­ing area on the sec­ond hole at Ti­macuan Golf Club where I teach near Or­lando. Or I see a forced carry over wa­ter from a fair­way bunker (photo, be­low). Or I see the nar­row win­dow be­tween trees that’s a portal to reach a green. Get my point? When you’re on the range, give your­self an on-course as­sign­ment for ev­ery shot you hit. And whether you pull it off or not, put that club back in the bag, grab a dif­fer­ent club, and give your­self a dif­fer­ent as­sign­ment. Also pay at­ten­tion to weather re­ports. Windy that day? Get out there and prac­tice. Rain­ing? Put on your raingear and hit balls. The more ac­cli­mated you get to real golf sce­nar­ios, the closer you’ll get to fi­nally be­ing able to take your range game to the course.

golfdi­gest. com month 2017 Pho­to­graph by First Last­name

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