Practice For Performance

By Chris Foley

Over the course of the golf season, each month in this column we will be sharing ideas to help improve your golf game without changing your golf swing. By implementing our advice each month, you will see improvement in your game and lower scores.

If you are lucky enough to attend this month’s PGA Tour Champions event, The 3M Championship, in Blaine there are a lot of things that you can learn and take away to benefit your game.

Spend Some Time on the Driving Range.

If a player is on the range prior to a round, they aren’t practicing, they are warming up. There is a big difference between the two. When a player is warming up they are simply getting their body ready for the golf course. They getting loose, finding their rhythm and timing, getting a feel for where their golf ball is going that day.

Most players will practice after they play a round. Here are some things to observe.

  • Players will switch clubs and targets frequently.
  • Most set up some type of practice station with alignment rods and other practice tools.
  • Many players go through their full routine as they would on the golf course

On the Putting Green

  • Check out all the practice tools the player’s use. Mirrors, strings, lasers, putting arcs, gates, etc.   All of these tools serve a purpose in checking set-up alignments, stroke shape or impact positions.
  • Pay attention to the drills and exercise they are using. You can break these into either focusing on distance control or direction.

On the Course – Practice Rounds

  • Notice how players may hit a couple of shots off some tees. They may hit a driver and a three wood or iron. They are trying to determine the best line for their game.
  • Players will hit chip and pitch shots in areas that they would likely miss the green.
  • Players will hit multiple putts on the greens. Generally the pin positions for each day will be marked on the green and players will see how the contours and slopes affect putts from different directions.
  • Players will hit multiple putts to getting a feel for green speed.

On the Course – Tournament Rounds

  • Notice it is rare for a player to miss a green short. The vast majority of the time when an elite player misses a green it is pin high.
  • It is rare for a professional to follow a mistake with a mistake. They don’t allow an error to cost them multiple shots. One of the keys to playing great golf is minimizing errors and bringing your mishits more to the center of the golf course

Like my friend Hank Haney says, emulate the things you observe into your game and practice sessions and you will lower your scores and play better golf.