As you know, Chuck, I'm on the opposite end of the spectrum. Playing for scores/tracking handicap hasn't interested me as much the past couple of years, because I just know I've got some fundamental things wrong going on with my swing. I have felt that if I can just make a big breakthrough with my mechanics that my new baseline will be better than the "bogey golf" standard that I've typically played to, without lessons.
I've played on and off my whole life un-seriously, and I've always been about the same. Then again, why would I get better if I'm not really changing anything? I decided that my home-grown "swing my swing" mechanics have hit their limit, so I've been pretty determined to just do what it takes to get better. It has definitely been more difficult than I had thought it would be, but I think I'm improving and changing things- even if not as fast as I had hoped. If nothing else, I'm certainly aware of what I need to do more than I was!
I won't always favor practice over playing, and I'm still hoping for a breakthrough (sooner rather than later- perhaps months away) where I'll be happy again to get out there and play as much as I practice. Hopefully more.
You've seen all the threads on practice and learning, but I'll include the couple that keep me motivated below. Like Erik is saying, it's not a secret. I find it motivating to put into practice the ideas about making changes "unconscious" in the thread about stages of learning. If that's not motivating to you, I guess I don't know what to say. It just keeps me going and is as simple as that. In my mind, if you don't really seek out to change something, there's little chance you'll be advancing your game to where you want it long-term.
I like the ideas you mentioned above... especially the 18 holes of up & down from various, difficult lies.
As for the short game, right now it's definitely hurting my scores. Prior to this weekend, I went over my last 17 scorecards and I counted 53 putts from 6 feet and in that I missed over those 17 rounds. A lot of them were 3 and 4 feet. I didn't bother going through the short game misses, but I can count at least 8 times over the 2 rounds I played this weekend where I was greenside (or close to it) and I hit especially poor shots.
Overall, I converted just 1 of 15 up & down opportunities for the 2 day tournament and I finished 8 strokes behind the winner. It's been a weakness for awhile. I took a short game lesson the Friday before last that has me at least making clean contact and not hitting it fat anymore... but my tendency now is to hit it 15 - 25 feet past the hole.
I'm gonna play 18 tomorrow morning and then on Wednesday morning before meetings, I'm gonna spend some time at the short game area and I'll try out what you listed. That should keep me engaged.
I've got a 3 day member guest event Thursday, Friday and Saturday... so, I'll have plenty of on course time too.
Thanks for the suggestions. Simple, but not something I would have thought of doing on my own. It's in my wheelhouse too because I like to keep scores and stats, so... I can do that with an up & down challenge like that.
People who think their heads move after the ball is gone almost always seem to have started to move before the ball is gone.
Big fan of keeping the head still until you KNOW it's gone, not trying to time it so you can start moving just after you hit it.