In Depth: How should I practice?

TEHRE is more to improving your golf than just practicing, but it is the best way to get better, especially when combined with coaching.

ARE you improving as quickly as you would like?  I think I heard about 95% of you saying, “no!"  The other 5% are probably the ones who are practicing effectively.  I know there is more to improving your golf than just practicing, but it is the best way to get better, especially when combined with coaching.

In this article I'll discuss what sort of practice a beginner can do to make the fastest inroads to enjoyable golf.

Let’s define a beginner, not as someone who has just picked up a golf club for the first time in the last month.  Instead, it could be someone who is in their first year or two of playing golf.  Perhaps you have dabbled in the game or had a bit of a hit and giggle at a driving range, but now you want to get a little more serious.

It’s one thing to ask what you should be practicing as a beginner, but a completely different question to ask “how should I practice?”  The "what" will be covered in a following article. 

The way you practice has a big effect on your rate of progress.  Too many players jump from one swing thought to another in the hope of finding some magic for their game.

There is no magic, only solid principles.  The better those principles are applied in practice, the faster your game will improve.

Getting your set-up right is one of the foundation elements for an effective golf swing.

As with most sports, preparing properly is not completely natural and does take some practice.  The best possible start you can make is to get some coaching.  Of course, coaching is extremely beneficial whatever your standard.

Focussed repetition is key to improving anything. For example when you are learning to hold the club make sure your attention is on placing your hands as correctly as possible on the club, regardless of how it feels.  It’s very unusual for a player to hold the club correctly in the early stages and say that it does feel comfortable and natural.

You can practice at home and it only takes five minutes per day.  Repeatedly place your hands on the club and set up to a golf ball (or imaginary golf ball) as correctly as you can.  Use a mirror to check your posture and any notes or pictures you have from your coach to check your grip and set-up.  If you do this twice a day your grip and set-up will feel pretty natural by the end of one week.

Supplement the work you do at home by hitting balls on the range at least twice a week. You only need to hit 50 balls at a time, but make sure your attention is fully on your coach’s suggestions with each practice swing and shot.

The more you practice mindfully with your attention on what you are doing, the more quickly you’ll develop a consistent swing pattern.  Not only will you progress faster practising this way, but it will make it easier for your coach to make any necessary adjustments.

As well as prioritising set-up, you also need to understand the dynamics of the golf swing: rhythm, tempo, timing and balance.

These are the elements that make good golf swings become great golf swings.  They are essential for every player from the Tour player down to the beginner.

If you haven’t already done so, prioritise developing set-up and dynamics and enjoy really rapid progress with your golf.


Peter Knight

As one of only four Master Professional Coaches with the PGA of Australia, Peter Knight has a long track record of helping players whatever their age or ability level.

Peter applies the same care in coaching you as he does international teams and professionals.  All he asks is that you are prepared to put in a little practice to reap the rewards you want from your game.

 You can book lessons with Peter at Yarra Bend Golf Course either on the website www.yarrabendgolf.com or by calling (03) 9481 3729.

Check out his site www.melbournegolfcoach.com.au and subscribe for weekly golf videos and other updates.

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