Ignore The Pros-The Way To Better Golf

Posted by Mike in Golf Tips For Beginners

One of the biggest mistakes that golfers make when they want to improve their game is to imitate the styles and techniques of the professional golfers they see on TV and in magazines. There is an untold wealth of tips that you can get from magazines, the Golf Channel, videos and books.

Wouldn’t it be great to become a better golfer simply by copying Annika Sorenstam or Tiger Woods? But you can’t do it! You won’t play your game like the pros do. Keep in mind that the number of men and women who make their living playing competitive golf is a very small number.

The pros don’t play golf after they get off work, like you do–the golf course IS their job. These are the people who work full time at playing the game, just like you work full time at your career.

They spend 8 to 10 hours a day on the practice range, on the golf course, on the practice green, anywhere they can swing a club and practice their shots. We don’t have that same luxury of being able to practice our game for a living. Wouldn’t that be great? But, unfortunately, reality sets in all to quickly.

Professional golfers can work hard and learn to make shots that seem impossible to us. Should we spend two, three, six months trying to loft the ball and have it stop 2 feet short of the hole without an inch of roll? Who has that kind of time? We should be spending our time with the basics and take our time with learning our own individual style and technique.

Understanding How Important Practice Is

What kind of practice is best for the average golfer? All you have to do to answer the question is to take a look at the number of people at the driving range hitting long distance balls over and over again. Most golfers spend more than 95% of their time hitting these long distance shots. They never take the time to practice the hits that count: their short game.

Most people don’t enjoy practicing their short game. But if you look at the pros, they may spend 80% or more of their time practicing their short game shots. They practice from all different angles and variables. As I said above, you shouldn’t imitate the way the professionals play their game, but you can learn to follow their example of practicing the right areas like they do.

Focus On Your Short Game

When we’re at the practice range, most of us get a big thrill out of banging away with the driver, hitting the ball long distances, making long drives all day long. But during a real game when we see the scorecard approaching 90 or 100 at the end of the round, the excitement of hitting all of those long drives on the range kind of fades away.

A great way to improve your score is to spend less time using your driver. You need to spend more time learning how to effectively improve your short game shots. It’s important to make the best use of your scarce practice time.

After work or whenever you go to the range, instead of spending an hour hitting long-distance balls, spend a specific amount of time putting, chipping, pitching, taking bunker shots and shots in the range of 45-75 yards.

You’ll find that about 50% of your score will come from shots that are taken at 75 yards or less. So doesn’t it make sense to spend at least 50% of your practice time on those same shots? Makes sense to me!

It will probably take some discipline on your part to reduce the time you spend trying to knock the ball out of the driving range. But you can bet that your golf game will improve tremendously by increasing your short game practice shots and decreasing your distance shots.

For more tips for the beginner golfer, head over to the golf blog for beginner golfers, Sensible Golf Tips.

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9 comments, sweet!

Comment by Deron Sizemore
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January 19th, 2008 at 11:39 pm

Yep, you’re exactly right Mike. 2007 was the best golf year I’ve had to date. I believe it was a direct results of the way I practiced. Majority of my time was spent on short game, e.g., sand shots, lob shots, bump and run, pitches, and most of all putting. I usually stop at the range on my way home from work for around two hours usually and at least half my time is on the shots that I mentioned above (sometimes longer). Then I’ll grab a bucket of balls and hit mostly shots 100 yards and in. This past year even when I wasn’t striking it well, I knew I could still salvage a good score because my short game was better. My bad scores turned into what I used to consider a good score and my good scores turned into what I used to consider a near perfect round of golf for me.

Comment by Planet Apex
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January 21st, 2008 at 1:06 pm

Wow, this blog is very beautiful. I like your colour scheme and design very much. The colour scheme matches the topic of Golf really well. the site as a whole is very unique.

Comment by Saturday Golfer Subscribed to comments via email
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January 22nd, 2008 at 1:34 am

Great thoughts.

My 2008 golf resolution is to spend a lot more time on my short game (hopefully I can drop the handicap below a 5). Plus it is a little easier to justify an hour at the practice green than a 4 hour round to the wife.

Comment by TP Golf Online
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January 22nd, 2008 at 7:23 am

“You’ll find that about 50% of your score will come from shots that are taken at 75 yards or less”

I think that figure should be over 50%. Consider this, you shoot an even par score of 72 and during the round you hit all the greens in regulation which means 50% of your shots are putts.

I prefer to practice in the same manner as Deron, it does not always happen, I find I am more productive when I structure my practice in that manner. Like Deron I practice mostly wedge type shots at the range because percentage wise I know a well played wedge shot will usually benefit my score than a well played drive.

Comment by Deron Sizemore
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January 22nd, 2008 at 8:06 am

Yeah, after twenty years of playing this game, it’s starting to sink in as far as what works. :) I used to think driver, driver, driver… now I think wedge, wedge, wedge. I know that without a shadow of a doubt that I can hit what’s a terrible drive for me and still salvage par on any hole because my wedge game is better. The Deron of old would without a doubt make at least a bogey (probably worse) with a poorly struck drive. I just don’t worry about long game as much anymore and it’s totally changed my game.

Comment by CWAGolfer
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May 17th, 2008 at 2:39 pm

When my longest drive is 80 yards; when it takes me four or five shots to reach a par-3 green, I don’t take kindly to anyone who arrogantly tells me not to spend time working at the driving range, telling me not to try for more distance.

Comment by dwEEbs
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May 28th, 2008 at 7:43 am

CWAGolfer, I think you’re missing the just of the conversation. I do not usually pipe into topics like these however in this case, I am going to.

These guys are talking about taking scores from 100 to 90 to 80 to 70, not taking a 160 to a 70. More then likely you have several issues stopping your game then practice with a driver and honestly should be focusing your attention and effort for some instruction first. a couple quickie lessons will certainly help your efforts.

Until you do, the swing traits you’re engraining into your muscles will only make it worse for you to overcome. For instance, with a driver, I can hit the ball 160 yards with a 20% takeaway and a proper followthrough. I know this because I play with a person who a few years ago had a massive stroke leaving his right side without feeling. I showed him that he was hitting the ball as far as he was able to take his backswing back thus relieving his frusteration.

I am a scratch golfer, and these guys are speaking truth, but I will add, take 85% of those short practice shots from sand traps and 10 yards and in. It’s the stupid little 4 yard misses that can take a Double to a birdie with practice. Once you get into it, you’ll be as addicted to making these little dandies as you are driving the ball 290.

Comment by Mike
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May 17th, 2008 at 3:27 pm

If that’s the case, don’t you think it might be a PHYSICAL issue? I mean come on now! If in fact you can only hit it 80 yards, I don’t think going to the range is going to get you more yards. But if you do keep going to the range let me know how it turns out for you.

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