Golf is different from other sports. In other sports we practice where we play and we play where we practice. In basketball we practice on the court. In baseball and football we practice on the field. It might be a “practice field” but it is just like where we play the game. This isn’t so with golf. With golf, we have the “practice tee” which bears no resemblance to the actual course! Have you ever heard anyone say, “I hit it great on the range but can’t take it to the course.”? We all have! To overcome this situation, we need to learn to practice on the golf course and play on the range. It’s critical to remember, we don’t keep score while practicing other sports, the same should hold true for golf. Keep score only during the actual game, not during practice. How can we do this? Read on.
Practice where you play: First, be aware of others and never hold up play! On the golf course, ask yourself, “What club should I hit from here?” Drop a ball or two and hit different clubs to find out! Or, “How should I chip from this side of the green, or that side of the green?” Drop balls and try different shots. Use the same approach for tee shots. Should I really use a driver all the time? Would a three wood put me in better position? Hit your driver, then your 3 wood and see which works out best. Put yourself on side hill lies, uphill lies, in the rough, in the trees. Learn how to handle the shots you will actually encounter when you play. This is practicing where we play without the pressure of keeping score. Save score keeping for your actual game!
Play where you practice: On the practice range (after warming up) play 9 or 18 holes by visualizing the various shots and aiming at different targets on the range. For instance, visualize the width of the #1 fairway, tee off and picture where the ball landed. Create that lie, visualize your next shot, pick a target down range and hit the shot. Repeat this process, including chip shots until you are “on the green.” Then go on to the next “hole.” Visualize the tee shot; pick another target, etc. etc. Don’t hit each shot down the center of the range. Constantly vary your target line. Do this for the entire 9 or 18 holes. By using the method you move from club to club, target to target and “play where you practice.”
Practice where you play and play where you practice and watch your scores drop!
Jerry J. Alldredge, PGA Professional