Is more practice in golf really better?

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BUDDY DE JOYA

It is surprising that most die-hard golfers practice immensely, but fail to produce good results on the golf course. As a consequence, you end up filling up your scorecards with higher scores that make you feel bad after your round, or at times, even the entire day. Frustrating, isn’t it? It’s all about having impressive scores, right? But sometimes, we need to keep in mind that it depends on each golfer’s purpose.

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I have experienced the same vicious cycle when I was a junior player. On summer days, I have gone on the golf course at least four days per week and on the driving range like almost everyday. On school days, I spent twice a week at the driving range and twice on the golf course, practicing endless of hours. But yet, never really improved the way I intended and aspired to. When I got to college, I have improved with the least amount of practice. I will tell you about it in a short while.

Since I started coaching 20 years ago, I have noticed the same pattern that most dedicated golfers do to improve their swing mechanics and scoring abilities. But yet, most have not succeeded in scoring for the better. Quite at the same time, I have noticed that plenty are not particularly keen on the emotional and psychological sides of the game. I believe these are the very keys!

Based on a research by Jim Thomas, who wrote an article on “The Average Golf Scores for Men,” “the USGA average golfer in its system carries about a 15.0 handicap. This translates into an average score of about 90, close to that of a bogey golfer. But “Golf Digest” notes that most golfers don’t participate in the USGA system. And because most golfers without handicaps are occasional players who generally shoot higher than 100, the official USGA average score is artificially low.” This article was published in the Livestring.com website.

It is noticeable that there had been a tremendous improvement in golf equipment in the past 30 years. Modern technology’s forgiveness and value-added aerodynamic designs allowed the ball to fly longer. On the other hand, golf courses have lengthened and opposed the benefits of modern technology. Golf as it is, is already a difficult game. Why make the golf course more difficult? It is such an irony, in fact.

Now, I will say that more practice is not necessary. Of course you can choose to practice more, but being smarter works best. Have fun and find out what you exactly need to do. It is extremely important to work on your psychological and emotional sides of the game. This way, you can cut on time going to the driving range and on the golf course.

It starts in knowing the proper fundamentals, setting-up, and executing your appropriate swing mechanics, and drills to build your mechanics. Acquire a good mat where you can brush on while drilling. You don’t really need to hit balls, unless you are working on your yardages. Take note that the ball must not affect your psychological tendencies. So, practice without the ball in mind. It must not bother the way you feel and think.

You need to set your short-term, medium-term and long-term goals. Set yourself to break 100, 90, 80 and even 70 in a span of three years. It is a lot of work but definitely possible. If you just want to have fun, eye on breaking the score of 90.

More importantly, develop your creativity and visualization capabilities. Play the golf course in your mind. Select the appropriate golf club that best fits the shot in mind. Imagine the ball flight, where it carries and how it rolls or stop. Savor each shot as if it was real. Recall your feedback after each imagined impact. It will be challenging but most effective.

Think, think and think. Plan each shot carefully and master strategizing. Familiarize yourself very well with the golf course where you play and take note on landing spots, clubs selection, slopes and breaks on the greens, wind directions, and hazards. Each shot must be planned carefully. Put your whole world into it – It is your present.

Learn to control your emotions and really feel good every time. Whether you created a good or a bad shot, feel the same. Smiling is always a good gesture. It makes your game more enjoyable and enhances the feeling of goodness.

Spend more of your time with the psychological and emotional aspects of the game. Distinguish exactly what to practice on. This will certainly be well time spent. So, it does not need to be time consuming after all. Be smart!

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