We’re talking about practice!

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“Practice?” Yeah, I went there. I couldn’t resist with the topic of todays post.

I was talking with my swing coach Wade the other day and we got on the topic of practice rounds. The concept behind a legit practice round really has had my wheels turning for the past couple of days. Since I started playing golf again, going back to 2010, my practicing has been regulated to the driving range and my garage. Occasionally I’ll get over to Revere where they have a decent short game area but for the most part is hitting off mats at the range or hitting off my mat at home in the garage has been how I define practice.

If you look at my Round Played page you’ll see I have several PR or Practice Rounds listed after a good handful of my scores this year. Going through the swing change that I’ve been working on since December had its effect on my play to start the year off and for the first several months what I was doing out on the golf course was anything but playing golf. Hence the PR’s for those rounds.

In my mind I’ve used the “practice round” as a way to skate around an unusually poor performance or some insane playing conditions, like we faced in Death Valley,  that don’t constitute a score worth recording. What I’ve missed is the opportunity to really practice.

I don’t get to play as often as I’d like to, I think we can say that, so I find it difficult to take an opportunity to go out and play nine or eighteen holes and just screw around and practice. Being in Vegas we don’t exactly have course that are not full or cheap for that matter. So any chance to get out and play I’ve done just that, play. Wasting $35 or $45 on a practice round is a hard pill to swallow. That thought process, I’m figuring out, has been more damaging than I ever thought. Screwing around should be that last thing I’m doing during a practice round. Hello, its PRACTICE, get busy!

Wade made a suggestion that I’m going to take up and that was to go play a practice round on purpose. Go out and just play, don’t worry about your score or stats or time and just go out and hit the ball around the course. “The pro’s do it every week, 5 to 6 hour practice rounds doing just that.” He said. Which is so true, those guys spend hours analyzing each hole from the tee to the green just to be prepared for the rounds. Hitting multiple shots from different areas for the same purpose, to see how the course plays and to practice the shot. Then there’s me, who believes that smacking ball after ball into a net in the garage is going to help better prepare my game for an 18 hole course.

I have to admit it, the idea of going out and playing without the pressure of putting up a good score is quite tantalizing. Wade explained to me that it’s more than just not putting up a score but it’s an excellent way to practice real game time situations in the only place where those situations can happen, on the course!

He said he’ll take several wedges with him on a chip shot and take multiple swings with each club just to see the different way the ball reacts to the different lofts. It was really an eye opener and it’s a concept that I’ve been oblivious to.

So my goal for the next several months is to go out and practice more. Not just at the range but on the course as well. It’s hard to believe but out Winter Classic event is less than three months away. Normally we hold the tourney in December but this year we bumped it up to November to try and make the playing conditions a little bit more respectable.  With this new idea in my head about practice I’m curious to see if will have an effect on how I perform in this year’s tourney? First things first, I have to get out on the course and practice!

I’d love to hear how everyone practices. Leave a comment below and lets discuss it, I think it would be great to read how others spend their practice sessions.

Follow Mathew Wangrycht:

Writer and founder of the golf blog The Breakfast Ball. My wife will tell you I'm obsessed with the game, she's right! It's that obsession which drives me to become a better player and make this site enjoyable for everyone.

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