How to practise with purpose
The winter can take the edge off your game. P GA Advanced Professional Craig Lea offers five practice drills designed to sharpen your game for the new season and monitor your improvements throughout the year.
DRIVING 20-ball accuracy test
Find a quiet hole on the course or set yourself up on the driving range where you can use flags or other targets to imagine a 20-yard wide fairway with five yards of semi-rough on either side. Hit 20 balls with the aim of finding the fairway. Walk away from the ball and go through your full pre-shot routine before each shot to build good habits and make it feel like it’s for real. Give yourself five points if you hit the fairway, two points if you hit the semi-rough and minustwo if you find the rough based on where your ball finishes. Add up your score, record it and try and beat it the next time.
IRON PLAY Increased accuracy
Set yourself up on the driving range where you can hit to a variety of flags or specific targets from your pitching wedge to your longest iron or hybrid. Choose five targets or yardages and hit 10 shots to each one so you’re using a variety of clubs through your bag. Give yourself one point for every ball that finds the green or lands within 10 yards of your target. Add up your total score out of 50. For more detail, you can also note down any trends such as ball flights and common misses.
PITCHING Shot dispersion
Set up on the driving range or short game area where you can pitch to a flag or specific target from 40, 60, 80 and 100 yards away. Hit 10 balls from each yardage or to each target with the club you would usually use for this shot on the course and going through your full pre-shot routine for each shot. Do this one yardage at a time. Measure and record the distance each of the 10 balls finished from the flag and calculate your average – and try to improve on it in every session. Try experimenting with different clubs from different yardages to find the most accurate.
CHIPPING Club challenge
Set up on the short game area so that you can hit shots from a variety of situations – chip and runs, flop shots, rough, tight lies etc. Hit three shots from each from five different locations – one with a lob or sand wedge, one with a gap or pitching wedge and one with a mid or short iron. Award yourself 10 points if you chip in, five points if you get it within two feet, three points if you get it within four feet and one point if you get it within six feet. Record the points for every shot you play. This will help you identify which shot is most effective in any given situation, as well as help you improve your overall short game.
PUTTING 45-putt challenge
Find a flat area of the practice green that allows you to putt to it from up to 40ft away. Hit putts in order from 20, 25, 30, 35 and 40 feet and repeat this five times. Then hit 10 putts from a three-foot circle around the hole and 10 putts from an eight-foot circle. That’s 45 putts in total. For the long putts, give yourself two points if you hole it and one point if it finishes within two feet. For the two shorter distances, give yourself one point for every putt you holed. Add up and record your total score and aim to improve with each session.