Hitting golf balls, putting on the practice putting green and working on my game is a real passion and I hope you love it, too.
I suspect one of the initial ideas why practicing works well is that in about an hour or so you can get in a lot of golf and get a lot done to improve your game. When I practice I like to putt first then work through my bag of clubs hitting about 4 irons for every 100 balls or so. I’ll start with very short shots and work up to about a 5 iron, then a few drivers and then wrap up with the wedges.
When I putt, I will work with a variety of putts, mostly 30 footers and a lot of short putts. I will not bother with very long putts unless I’m planning on playing a course with very large greens in the near future.
Practice on the course can be fun. (Sorry to all of my friends who operate golf courses.) Go out late in the day and hit 3 or 4 tee shots -- especially on a hole that may be a problem for you. When you get to the fairway, find a length of shot or type of shot you are trying to work on and use this opportunity to hit 2 or 3 shots to the green. Be sure to fix your ball marks. If you are putting well, or the greens are not in good shape, skip the putting and go on to the next hole.
Let’s talk about putting practice, because I think putting is the core of golf. If you can putt well, the rest of the game can really fall into place. For beginners, learn the game on and around the green first, then learn other shots from further out. Most strokes are made closer to the hole so this is where you can improve your score.
In a drill suggested by Dr. Bob Rotella, the author of “Putting out of your mind,” he suggests starting with three or four-foot putts.
After making those, move to about 6 feet, then to about 9 feet. If you miss one, move back to the 3-footers and start over. This really makes you concentrate on each putt or you can’t move on to the next distance. This drill can take 10 minutes or an hour, but it will pay off for you.
Another fun drill is a game my friend, Ray Pelligrini, and I came up with. Ray is a former San Francisco City Golf Champion and club champion at the Olympic Club. Ray and I would play nine-hole matches with two balls. The catch is we would take the worst of the two each time. Now play two more shots from here, and again take the worst of the two and play from there. It was really a lot of fun and you if you hit the green, you would really concentrate on the next one so you would not have to hit two bunker shots.
Oh yeah, putting: Make a four footer … yup, you have to make the next one.
Maybe you can come up with a practice game that can help you improve and keep motivated to practice. Love to practice and it will all pay off.