Would a Random Practice Routine Really Help Your Game?

I was reading an article this morning that talked about the importance of mixing up your practice sessions by never hitting the same club back to back along with varying your shot shapes and objective for each shot for every ball you hit at the range.  The article pointed to the fact that when you play a round of golf you never hit the same club back to back, unless you duff a shot and practicing for that scenario will prepare you to play out on the course.

I understand the concept behind this approach, but the argument balances on one pivotal point.  It assumes that the person taking part in the practice session is comfortable with all of their clubs and shots.  If I am confident in most of my game then I can totally see going to the range and playing a practice round in my head by hitting a driver, 7 Iron then a chip to simulate a hole.  That makes sense, but I am always struggling with one portion of my game and really benefit from devoting a larger chunk of time to that struggling area.

If I am losing confidence in my shots from 100 yards then I want to go to the range and hit a bucket of 100 yard shots.  Am I crazy to think this actually does help me build my confidence back up for this shot.  The next time I go to hit that on the course I have a full practice round behind me to pull from and establish confidence that I CAN hit that shot.

If I go to the range and play a simulated hole where I hit driver and pull it left then hit a punch shot to simulate being in the trees then an approach shot that sequence will probably help me when I go to the course and find myself in the trees.  Other than that, I want the initial feedback of being able to hit another driver after I hit a bad one.  That is the reason I am at the range.  To work out the kinks.  If I hit a bad drive I don’t want to let that go without addressing it.

As much as I want to like this approach to practice, I just can’t.  I think it is unrealistic to ask the average everyday golfer to spend their money at the range and not be able to work out their mechanics by hitting balls and gauging results.  If the golfer is comfortable with their game then it makes more sense, but I don’t see that being the case for most of us.  I could be looking at this the wrong way, but I don’t see this being a real upgrade in practice techniques.

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2 Comments to “Would a Random Practice Routine Really Help Your Game?”

  1. No, you are looking at this correctly. As someone you used to compete professionally, even I view this type of practice as ridiculous. The purpose of practicing on the range is to develop confidence with your clubs and particular shots. I’ve spent an entire afternoon on the range hitting nothing but shots in the 52-98 yard range, so that I have the confidence on the course when faced with a 79 yard shot that I can hit the ball within 10 feet of the cup.

    The proposed practice concept is sound in the sense that yes a golfer is seldom hitting back to back shots with the same club. Yet, a beginners or amateur’s problems of translating success on the range to success on the course has less to do with the repetitiveness of hitting the same club over and over on the range, than how they are practicing on the range. Specifically, most non-professionals conduct their practices on the range by plopping a ball down in front of them, hitting the ball, and repeating this act many times quick succession. I regard this as an “unnatural” type of practice for anyone attempting who is actually going to play a round of golf, because one never thinks through a shot and hits a ball this quickly when on the course. It is a completely thoughtless type of practice which results in inconsistency, doubt, and/or “thinking too much” by a golfer when on the course.

    Better to practice the same type of routine on the range that one does on the course. After hitting 5 or 100 balls with the same club using same routine (whatever that might be) you’ll have more confidence both on the range and the course.

    One side note though…once in a while or when preparing for a tournament there is something to be gleamed from “practicing” a round on the range by hitting through the shots you’ll be required to hit on each hole. Depending on the individual, this can be a useful mental exercise in preparing for the challenges of a specific course. One drawback though is range conditions seldom if ever mimic conditions found on any hole of any course.

    • Thanks for the comment. I thought I was going crazy as I was reading that article and thinking to myself, “There is no way this will work for the average golfer.”

      I like the two points you make here about how working through a shot with thoughtful repetition can inspire much more confidence than a practice round in your head as well as your point about preparing for a tournament with some thoughtful shots aimed to get you ready for a specific course, hole or round. That makes sense to me. I can’t imagine this method would ever be beneficial to a normal amateur who struggles with the fundamentals of the game. Those repetitions of certain shots at the range are vital to the average golfer gaining confidence and learning about their swing. I for one benefit from that type of practice and I know other golfers who are the same way.

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