Updated June 9, 2019 – Original article March 6, 2017
Having a Purpose
One of the follies of the game of golf is the endless amounts of practice that some players put in to improving their game, only to come up short when it comes to lowering their score. This is mostly because the average amateur golfer does not practice the same way that a professional golfer does, and the division between the two is best described as “having a purpose.”
That is to say, most amateurs practice golf by heading out to the golf course and playing nine or 18 holes either by themselves or with a trusted friend. They work diligently on every aspect of their game all at once, which is taking on too much for anyone. The pros tackle one aspect of the game at a time, which is why they concentrate their practice time at a driving range or around the putting green, not on a golf course itself.
When non-pros do go to a driving range, they grab one or two buckets and practice with at least 5 to 6 of their clubs, which isn’t enough reps to perfect any club and develop a strong muscle memory. If this is your usual routine at the range, I highly recommend getting the Swing Caddy Swing Trainer which will help increase you rep for a desired club and distance. It’s a great way to get more swings in without getting more balls.
We did a full review of the Swing Caddy by Swing Impact, and it goes into depth on how to use the Swing Caddy to improve your rhythm and tempo while developing muscle memory and faster swing speeds.
If you want to learn how to hit your long irons with efficiency and purpose, you need to swing a 3 or a 4 iron a few hundred times, not just the three to 10 times you might need to use one in the course of a round of golf.
If you can’t get to a driving range or find yourself reluctant to spend $10 on a bucket of balls, remember you can hit just as hard – and a lot more often – with a net at home. Some of these nets, like the Spornia pop-up automatic net with automatic ball returns, sets up in seconds and allows you to swing away indoors or outdoors.
Think of all those hours you could spend swinging a golf club in the winter and actually working on your game, as opposed to running out to the course when the snow melts in the spring and resuming the same flailing away that you did when you put the clubs away in the autumn.
How to Correctly Practice Your Golf Swing
Always swing a golf club with a purpose. On the course, your purpose is to hit every shot correctly. Off the course, you have the same job. Don’t just square up to a net and swing for the stars. Have some aspect of the game that you intend to confront – your back swing, your down swing, your follow through.
Perhaps you want to learn how to control that slice or that annoying hook – or, more importantly, how to play slices and hooks when you need to on a golf course.
Your practice equipment is just as important as the clubs you buy, so choose wisely. I prefer the Spornia system because the net is strong enough to feel confident of containment in my basement, but also, simply, because of its unbeatable ball return system.
After all, whether a net is green, blue, black or paisley doesn’t matter as much as ensuring your walls are protected – and not getting hit by ricochets is a plus, as well. But there is a method to my basement madness – to improve my golf game. So any time I can save retrieving golf balls is money in the bank, so to speak. It’s more time in which I can hone my golf swing.
After you set up your net, here’s how to practice golf. First, always stretch out before you play the game and before every practice. Anyone who forgets to do this is asking for either an injury or simply forfeiting the first three holes on the course, since your body is not yet ready to play.
Do you think the pros use the first three holes to loosen up or do you think they loosen up before they play? That’s right – before they play.
Secondly, even if you are attempting to practice your driving, always start with your short clubs. Work your way up to the longer clubs and the longer swings they require. If you want do that quickly in order to get more time with your driver, go ahead.
If I want to practice my short irons, I work my way through all my irons, shortest first, then return to the wedges and the nine iron. That way, I’ve used the first set of swings to stretch even more before I begin the day’s lesson.
Even during a practice round, step away from your stance between every swing. Practicing your set up routine is as important as your swing – so step away and step back after each swing. Don’t just plant your feet and hit two or three. After all, your feet tend to move out of their correct position with each swing, anyway.
Watch every shot. This is one of the fundamentals of learning to play and one that can be accomplished indoors or out. Of course, out on the range, the results of each swing are pretty clear. The ball either takes the right flight path or it doesn’t.
With a net, indoors or out, you will quickly learn to read the target. You might see a blur at first, but in a few swings, your eyes will get better at tracking the ball. You will soon sense whether or not you have hit a hook, a slice or a straight ball. And, depending on how your ball is spinning off the target and coming back to you, you can determine if your ball is slicing, hooking, or going straight.
Always use a net that has a target, of course. If you find a net without lines or targets, you will never know what you are hitting. Every shot counts, even in practice – especially in practice.
Approach the ball as you would on a golf course, setting up your routine. Square up. Swing. Watch the ball and analyze the results. Think about what you are trying to correct. Back away, then approach the next ball. Repeat a few hundred times.
When you practice, it is perfectly OK to use all those visual cues you see in instruction books or on the golf channel. Put a club down to align your toes properly. Set up swing guides on the ground if you want to. Make the most out of every swing.