Practice golf! But Spend More Time Than Money!

Practice is a major key to improving your golf game & you don’t have to spend a lot of money to do it!

Now the first thing to come to mind for most of you involves pounding ball after ball at your local driving range. Hitting real golf balls with a full swing is certainly an integral (& fun!) part of improving your game, but the full swing still is only a minor portion of the game. Keep track of all your shots during your next round & you’ll find that you will hit full shots approximately 35% to 40% of the time, short shots (pitches, chips, & greenside bunkers) 20%, and putting between 40% & 45% of the time.

While most mid and high handicappers spend most of their time practicing their full swing, most low handicappers & virtually all pros focus much of their energy on short shots & putting. That’s because they know the short game is the quickest, easiest, & most efficient way to lower scores. And perhaps the best news is working on your short game doesn’t involve a lot of money!

There are two basic ways to practice your putting — on your living room rug and on a outdoor putting green. Each is best for working on a particular part of putting. The artificial uniform nature of the living room rug limits the usefulness of practice involving aiming & distance control, but it can be an outstanding place to groove a putting stroke. By utilizing simple training aids to get your eyes behind the ball, to line up your shoulders and to restrict your backswing, you can build a fluid, accelerating, repeatable putting stroke.

Practice golf! But Spend More Time Than Money!

Now take your new grooved putting stroke to your local golf course or practice facility. This is where you will work on aiming, slopes, & distance control. Since you don’t have to concentrate on the mechanics of the stroke itself, you can spend your time & energy on pace, feel, & the alignment of the ball. And outdoor putting practice is cheap or costs nothing! Full outdoor facilities normally charge only a nominal amount for use, and golf courses don’t charge anything at all. The key to working on your putting at a golf course without getting hassled is to either arrive early before actually playing or to look like you belong. I worked on my putting & short game for years at a private club without hassle because I dressed and acted like I was a member!

Practice your pitching & chipping, indoors and outside! Focus on mechanics indoors. It should go without saying (although I’ll say it anyway), use an indoor golf ball. Then take your mechanically sound pitching & chipping strokes outdoors to work on feel, aiming, & distance control. If you have a decent size backyard, you can hits balls there. Again, some facilities and golf courses have very nice setups for chipping, pitching, & sand work. Actually any reasonably sized open area works well enough. Just make sure you have a target to focus on or bring one.

When you work on your full swing at the driving range, make sure you do so efficiently. Watch how the low handicapper (or if you ever get a chance to, the touring pro) practices. Many of them will place an extra club on the mat so they can constantly ensure they are aligned correctly. Also, few of them will just pound ball after ball. Typically, they will step away from the ball every few shots to go through their preshot routine. You should too — it will slow you down, help your concentration, & make your session more efficient (& cheaper, since you will hit fewer balls!).

Also, make sure you utilize all those lost golf balls you find on the golf course. I save up the ones I don’t recycle, put them in a baggie, & supplement the ones I buy at the driving range. Occasionally, I’ll hit them in an open field or into the woods as long as there’s no danger of hitting anything (or anyone) of significance.

The Frugal Golfer knows practicing efficiently saves dollars, leaving more money to play the game!