Originally Posted by cooke119
I live in New York so we are off for the winter, e.g., expecting 12" of snow on Thursday. It is interesting, when I start playing in the Spring I usually do pretty good. I believe I don't think as much, I feel more natural. Then I start thinking about my swing, tempo, timing, swing plane, grip, alignment, etc. etc. and I go down hill, score goes up (on average). Then I get into a groove along about the start of summer and my game improves. So for me, YES, playing helps my score. Also I visit a Pro for a lesson or two to correct bad habits I have a tendency to fall into, that helps as well. Go to a Pro, get some good practice technique and go to the range, as stated above don't go and just hit balls, you need to be working on something with every shot. And practice your short game as well, not just your drives.
I'm in NY and played 18 yesterday with my brother. It never got above 30 degrees but it was a blast, and I had my best round off the tee ever. I drove one green and hit the drive so high I thought it could embed on a normal day. Thing is, the greens were a bit like cement; it landed right near the hole and bounced 20 feet back up, then died in a pile of leaves past the green. Walking on the greens felt like I would chip off my spikes, but I still broke 90. I'm not willing to let my game go to crap by not playing until St Patrick's Day like so many people. I may not have another chance for a week or so given this storm so I took my opportunity.
I also bought a membership for this year, which brings me back to OP's point. Playing more golf is the only way to get really good. Hitting lots of balls is good too, though I go a bit into the extreme in this area. I bought the membership because I knew I could cash in after about 25 rounds, which I hope to be through by April 1 if the weather permits. Last year I played more often and got a range pass, and usually practiced or played 3 days a week or so during the summer. I hope that this year I will finally get more continuity in my scoring game, since I tend to work on my long game until I plateau. After about 5 days straight of good swinging, I'm in enough of a groove to concentrate on my short game more, but I try to keep my long game intact if I have limited or sporadic practice time.
Playing a lot helps you get your swing back every time. If you don't play a lot you tend to forget the proper way to swing every time you go out for the first few holes. Starting your round with shaky hitting is bad, and my course has a nasty second hole, so you need to keep it together through the beginning 4 holes before any scoring opportunities appear.
Bruce Lee had a great saying: don't fear a man that knows 10,000 kicks, but do fear the man that has practiced 1 kick 10,000 times. He was pretty good at kicking people so he knew what he was talking about. I know a lot of people think hitting lots of balls is a waste of time or even detrimental, but unless you're physically limited you should do it. I can't remember anyone losing a tournament for excessive practicing. The more practice you get the better your swing will repeat, and you can make finer adjustments to your shots. Standing on the tee needing to hit a certain shot is pretty intimidating unless you've hit the exact shot countless times. If your mechanics are horrible, get a few lessons, but practicing a lot is a good habit. Playing is more important than practicing, though, since it puts your game to the test. There's nothing more sobering than putting in a lot of practice only to have your game fall short on the course, it's easy to feel good on the range but it's not an accomplishment to be proud of like posting a good score or hitting a memorable shot.
Refine your fundamentals; no matter how limited your game is, you can learn from and enjoy every round and practice session. They add up.