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How Much to Practice and Take Lessons?


imsys0042
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Serious question related to this.   I am thinking of talking to my golf pro about a plan for this year.   I don't want to set a handicap goal because I'd rather see what he says to work on and then do my best to follow the right amount of structured practice and play.

That said, what is a realistic amount of instruction and practice time to properly make some improvement?  I'd like to set my own expectations for what is reasonable, how many lessons, the frequency, etc.


Mods Note: we split this off as it was off-topic in the previous topic and deserves a discussion of its own. Happy to change the title if @imsys0042 or anyone else has a better one.

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55 minutes ago, imsys0042 said:

Serious question related to this.   I am thinking of talking to my golf pro about a plan for this year.   I don't want to set a handicap goal because I'd rather see what he says to work on and then do my best to follow the right amount of structured practice and play.

That said, what is a realistic amount of instruction and practice time to properly make some improvement?  I'd like to set my own expectations for what is reasonable, how many lessons, the frequency, etc.

You might get a lot of different answers to this question. Here's what I might suggest as a starting point. 

  1. 1 lesson every 3 to 8 weeks. During each of those lessons you should get some homework... i.e. something to work on until your next lesson. 
  2. Spend at least 5 minutes a day working on your priority piece. Which means what ever piece your coach/instructor gives you to work on. You can spend more than 5 minutes if you have the time, but 5 minutes each day is way better than 60 minutes every 12 days, if you catch my drift. 
  3. Take what you've learned to the range every week or so. Depending on what your time and budget allow. Get video of what your range sessions look like and send those to your coach for comment. 
  4. You can also video your homework and send those to your coach for comment. Just to make sure you are doing it right and you are on track. 
  5. Then during your next lesson, you will be given a new priority piece to work on. 
  6. Rinse and repeat steps 1 through 5. 

This is by no means "THE PLAN" but I think its a good starting point and its what I'm trying to do and I believe it works. Obviously, real life can interfere from time to time. Don't beat yourself up over that. Just get back on track as soon as you can. By the way, if it isn't fun and/or you aren't improving. Talk you your coach/instructor. 

Cheers and good luck. 

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2 hours ago, imsys0042 said:

Serious question related to this.   I am thinking of talking to my golf pro about a plan for this year.  

This is a great idea, will look forward to hearing what comes out of it. Its about both time and money I suppose, need to have enough time, but also get the right coaching.  Sometimes I wonder what (just for example) $10K would buy as far as improvement. Lessons, of course. time and commitment to proper practice, absolutely. I need to ponder this more. How to spend money to make golf easier. It sure isn't about buying equipment, right?

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21 minutes ago, mohearn said:

This is a great idea, will look forward to hearing what comes out of it. Its about both time and money I suppose, need to have enough time, but also get the right coaching.  Sometimes I wonder what (just for example) $10K would buy as far as improvement. Lessons, of course. time and commitment to proper practice, absolutely. I need to ponder this more. How to spend money to make golf easier. It sure isn't about buying equipment, right?

I’m fortunate to have a job and boss that is flexible, so if I commit to a certain amount of time for a week, then I should be able to meet it.   If I had $10k I would probably invest some in equipment, but my woods and hybrids are all 10 years old and I’ve gone thru so many ups and downs putting with the same putter that it’s definitely not the equipment.   There may be better fitted putters for me, but I think the investment in not only lessons but the expenses for practice equipment and range balls pay more dividends. 
 

@ChetlovesMer I like that idea.   Our former pro would spend some time with someone watching their swing and talking about the game with them.   Then he would go over how many lessons and the amount of time he should spend between them, or what to focus on.  Personally I can’t see less than 3-4 weeks between sessions.   I had a quite major issue resolved last year and it took 6-7 weeks to work its way to where it was effective.   It was a pretty major problem though.

 

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I'll say this, and propose two plans. Both end up with about the same amount of "lesson time" but spread out a bit differently.

Plan A: "Correct, Confirm, Change"

  • Week 1: 90-minute lesson to make a correction to one main "piece" to your swing.
  • Week 2: 30-minute lesson to confirm that you understand how to practice, that your feels are still good, that you understand the goals and what you should be seeing in mirrors, in a camera, in your ball flight, etc.
  • Weeks 2-6: you seek to make the change permanent.
  • Repeat starting week 7 from the top.

Plan B: "Twenty-One Day Salute"

  • Week 1: 60-minute lesson to work on your golf swing. The same as above, but maybe with a bit less depth, because…
  • Week 4: 60-minute lesson to work on your golf swing. Even if you're mid-change, it can be a good time to make sure you know what's what, and to touch base on whether you're doing it "enough" or "slow enough" or whatever.
  • Repeat starting week 7 from the top.

In other words, over a six-week period, one plan has you doing 90 and 30-minute lessons, and the other has you doing a pair of hour-long lessons.

I think the first one, A, could be quite good. It gets you more contact early, lets you work on it for a week with a checkup, then lets you have the time to ingrain the change on your own.

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I'll never forget. I once had a guy say to me. "Golf lessons are for babies and wimps. Real men figure it out for themselves." I chuckled because I thought he was kidding... He wasn't. 

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12 hours ago, mohearn said:

This is a great idea, will look forward to hearing what comes out of it. Its about both time and money I suppose, need to have enough time, but also get the right coaching.  Sometimes I wonder what (just for example) $10K would buy as far as improvement. Lessons, of course. time and commitment to proper practice, absolutely. I need to ponder this more. How to spend money to make golf easier. It sure isn't about buying equipment, right?

If you were willing to spend that sort of money, I would suggest a combination of two things.  One would be to get regular lessons.  Two would be to hit a lot of golf balls.  But rather than at a range, build a home simulator and practice regularly there.  You would find yourself more inclined to hit balls there, could have fun playing and practicing with friends and family and finally not worry about the weather or time you want to hit golf balls.  For example you might be a night owl and can practice around midnight in safety and comfort.

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12 hours ago, iacas said:

I'll say this, and propose two plans. Both end up with about the same amount of "lesson time" but spread out a bit differently.

Plan A: "Correct, Confirm, Change"

  • Week 1: 90-minute lesson to make a correction to one main "piece" to your swing.
  • Week 2: 30-minute lesson to confirm that you understand how to practice, that your feels are still good, that you understand the goals and what you should be seeing in mirrors, in a camera, in your ball flight, etc.
  • Weeks 2-6: you seek to make the change permanent.
  • Repeat starting week 7 from the top.

Plan B: "Twenty-One Day Salute"

  • Week 1: 60-minute lesson to work on your golf swing. The same as above, but maybe with a bit less depth, because…
  • Week 4: 60-minute lesson to work on your golf swing. Even if you're mid-change, it can be a good time to make sure you know what's what, and to touch base on whether you're doing it "enough" or "slow enough" or whatever.
  • Repeat starting week 7 from the top.

In other words, over a six-week period, one plan has you doing 90 and 30-minute lessons, and the other has you doing a pair of hour-long lessons.

I think the first one, A, could be quite good. It gets you more contact early, lets you work on it for a week with a checkup, then lets you have the time to ingrain the change on your own.

 

This is good solid advice. I'd probably lean towards plan A, but be flexible. If you get to week three and you feel like either you've nailed it or you're lost, then go back sooner. My problem is my coach gets booked up about a month in advance, so I need to pin down my lessons well before they happen. He is reasonably responsive to emails sent in between though so that helps. 

@iacas - how much contact from a student of yours would you think was reasonable? Obviously emailing every day with videos and so on is more than would be reasonable, but I kind of feel like anything more than a quick check in is over the top. 

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1 hour ago, Ty_Webb said:

@iacas - how much contact from a student of yours would you think was reasonable? Obviously emailing every day with videos and so on is more than would be reasonable, but I kind of feel like anything more than a quick check in is over the top. 

As you can imagine, it depends on how much they've paid. I don't charge for off-hours consulting, so if you've paid for a 45-minute lesson (that probably went almost 70 minutes), then anything more than about five minutes is asking a bit.

If you've taken 10, 15 lessons with me, I might talk to you on the phone for thirty minutes now and then, because we have a relationship, we understand each other more, there's more nuance… etc.

If you're calling to ask me about something that I think is repeating myself, then that's annoying… if I said it, and it's important, it's in the notes.

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4 hours ago, pganapathy said:

If you were willing to spend that sort of money, I would suggest a combination of two things. 

Thanks for the feedback! Rhetorical question: what would you spend to shave 5 strokes off your handicap? What would you do?  Like I say, rhetorical, not asking for a dollar amount.

I did hit balls past two days in very cold weather, worked on weather-appropriate things (low point drill, trajectory, face contact), can't go full speed in the cold, and if I did couldn't find my balls in the snow (I hit to a snow/ice covered fake practice green.) Someone was kind enough to shovel the snow off the range mat so I'm not the only crazy..

 

Will think on it more, later. Last evening listened to "Atomic Habits" book. Going to try to incorporate better habits into golf preparation and improvement.

 

 

 

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25 minutes ago, mohearn said:

low point drill, trajectory, face contact

Those are what I call "skill" drills. Within the context of the golf swing, you can improve in two ways:

  • learn and make a better (mechanical) swing.
  • swing your swing a bit better.

Skill building is more of the latter: you're learning to do "your" swing a bit better.

Generally speaking, it's the way to faster but lesser gains. And unfortunately it's how many golf lessons go: because the person has hit a 7I for 30-45 minutes, they get better at that one shot or swing. 😛

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Thanks, yep.  Working on skills. Towel drill for low point, and heel/toe strike similar to your inside/outside drill in your 30 days series.  Trying to borrow from the best!

I can do these in a parka, I go mostly full routine switching club and target each shot. Way more difficult than grooving a single club. When I started this, I kid you not was told "hit just behind the ball, take a divot" and so you can imagine... Much better now. 

Come March when the weather better, I plan on working with someone on a regular basis. Perhaps once a week for an hour, primarily full-swing and approach, is that too much? I put in a couple hours per day practice, and I think I can handle it if I need to scale up time.  

Had my HCP down to something reasonable prior to latest injury. ;-) Getting old, but beats the alternative.

 

 

 

 

 

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I'm trying to practice daily. And hone a new habit of 20 minutes putting every day as suggested in Bob Rotellas book "make you next shot your best shot." Today was planning to head to Danbury CT for a heated range, but found out they have just changed ownership and are closed until at least March. So off to the local range in the cold to do what I can do.  I've got about 60 yds to work with, BYOB. Worked on skills items including half and quarter wedges (working on consistent CHS on my Swing Radar) since balls are a mixed lot and very cold regardless. Balance, tempo, etc. Shot patterns getting tighter, I'm not chasing after as many flyers, which gives me hope. Normal things I can do without much full swing work.

Despite the cold, I love being out there and hitting, it's almost meditative I think.  

 

 

Range 2022023.jpg

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Since I am doing something similar to what you are talking about, I figured I'd weigh in.

I have taken two lessons, and have another five to go.  Honestly, I feel like I will keep going after that, but this was only the second time I've committed to lessons.  (The first place closed down after three of six lessons, and the pro had changed for the third.)

First Lesson - Tuesday, November 16, 2021:

The pro had me hit some shots with a seven iron.  He videoed them and then had me come over and showed me the issue.  I was laid off badly at the top and my hips were too far forward.  I had gotten this way through a flirtation with Stack and Tilt when I was trying to get the pronounced sway out of my swing about a decade ago.  What it had done was caused me to have a severely over the top swing which chopped down on the ball.  This created glancing blows that produced weak, low flying shots

After showing me what I was doing wrong, he had me change my stance and focus on staying on plane.  For the stance, he had me move my hips back toward the center so my weight was distributed evenly.  For the plane, he had me "feel" as if I was pointing the club at a flag right of the target line on the range.  Yes, this is "across the line" and had everything going pretty hard left.  However, the contact was completely different and powerful, and my shots went from low and weak - going about 120 yards - to towering huge draws traveling over 150 yards.  This was it for the first lesson, and I have been making practice swings in the mirror, the reflection on a glass front cabinet, and with my shadow outside to practice staying on plane.  This was my homework, and for the first time in my life (and sadly, I'm a teacher) I have been diligently working on it.

Second Lesson - Tuesday, January 4, 2022:

For this lesson, he had me hit some seven irons and took video.  He always uses video, as well as Trackman.  He showed me the progress that I had made, and then we looked at my hips through impact.  He showed me how they were pushing forward and bringing my head forward with it.  We worked on getting my hips turning and opening up through impact, and keeping my head still and back just a touch.  This has been the piece that I have been working on in slow motion and with full swings.  I have gotten a new net, and I am going to be rebuilding my frame to accommodate the larger size (15 feet tall as opposed to 10) so that I can practice more at home. 

Whoops... forgot the other piece we worked on.  He noticed that I tended to make contact toward the toe a lot, and had me do a drill to combat it.  He laid one of my authentic Sand Trap alignment sticks along my target line and and set a ball just the other side of it.  He had me set up as if I was swinging along the line of the alignment stick but hit the ball on the downswing.  After doing this a few times, I found myself making much better contact.  This drill is difficult without the net, but I can do it at the range.  I just haven't been.

My next lesson, we will be working on wedge play.

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