Unlike professionals who make their living playing golf most weekend players live busy lives which doesn’t allow for as much practice time as they would like. This fact makes it all that more important that your practice time emphasize quality rather than quantity. Effective practice should include three elements:
1. Be goal oriented
2. Be organized
3. Create a realistic environment
Goal Oriented - Limit yourself to one pre-swing thought and one swing thought. If you are working on swing technique use a 6 or 7 iron rather than a driver and choose a target that is 20 yards closer than where you would normally hit it. This creates a slower tempo allowing your mind and body more time to absorb the command they are unfamiliar with. Stay focused on the specific technique or thought until you begin to feel and sense it.
Be organized - Effective practice helps you to develop the skills you’ll need on the golf course. Hitting 150 balls with only your long clubs may be fun, but it isn’t sensible considering your short game constitutes over half your score. Create a schedule to work on different areas of your game. Spend the first half of your allotted time on the long game and swing technique. Devote the second half to your short game including pitching, chipping, putting and bunker play.
Create a realistic environment - When hitting full shots visualize you are on the golf course. Always choose a target and make note to the distance to each target. Go through your set up process on every shot so that you’re using the same routine in practice as on the course. Work on specialty shots that you may encounter on the course such as low punch shots, slices or hooks around an imaginary tree, uneven lies, etc. The key is to create a practice environment as realistic as possible making for an easier transition to the golf course.
When you do have the opportunity to practice make the most of it. By having specific goals in mind, organizing your practice regiment and creating a realistic environment you’re using your time more effectively resulting in better performance on the course and lower scores.