Absolutely which is why we hear top instructors advising us to practice with a purpose. I didn't say practice was beating ball after ball. When I practice it entails a wide variety of exercises on and off the range and course. I can honestly say the biggest improvement to my short game came from spending time off the course by ingraining different swing lengths based on distance control. Much of it done in front of a mirror or video camera without a ball. I think there is much to be learned on the course just that without putting the time in you have no idea if you've used your imagination and executed the shot or simply got lucky. I don't rely on imagination when I play, I fall back on what I've learned and make decisions from there. The experience gained practicing is to take the guesswork out of it.
FWIW I practice everything on the range. Some days I spend the entire time in the bunker hitting a hybrid out of it and other days I chip to the nearest target using only 6i-8i before moving on to something else. Some days I stay home and hit balls into a chipping net in my basement varying the distance in two foot increments through 3 large buckets of balls. On bad weather days I use my nets and putting green to play imaginary rounds of golf choosing clubs based on what I would usually hit at my home course. I base the number of strokes I take per hole based on whether or not the video shows I made good contact. IMO imagination is exactly what successful practice requires.