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Hugh Jars

Making Practice More Relevant to Playing?

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All driving ranges are flat, with perfect lines, perfect for building muscle memory and honing technique, hitting multiple balls from the same lie, using the same club. But realistically in a round of golf rarely would you come across a situation like the driving range. Lies can be uphill/downhill, in the rough, in the sand, one shot against the wind, next shot with it. And rarely will you use the same club twice in a row. And of course the pressure of hitting a ball to achieve a good score in the presence of buddies or to win a tournament is hard to replicate on the range. Most golf courses are busy and its simply not possible to practice hitting several balls on the course from lies not found on the range.

So I'm wondering, how do people go about effectively practicing to replicate an actual round?

For baseball and football you can run plays, cricket you can do centre wicket practice, Tennis you can easily set-up game based drills on the court. But what about golf - where nearly every shot you play in a round will be different to all others?

 

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The first thing you should do is build muscle memory.  Post that, don't keep hitting the same club and grooving your swing.  Every shot you hit should be different and have a target.  So far example, if you are good enough to shape shots, one will be a draw, the next a fade etc.  Also, if you play one or two courses only, play shots that you need on the course.  So you have a dogleg hole.  How would you approach it.  Cut the dogleg, hit a draw/fade.  Hit that shot in practice.  Also, use practice to hit the rare shots.  Low balls to get out of trouble, very high shots etc.  And finally, work on the areas of your game that cost you the most.  Is it around the green, driver, long irons etc.

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A few things to try on the range or practice area.

1. Hit a club no more than 3 times in a row. Ideally a different club, shot, trajectory or line for each club.

2. Take a seat after each swing. try and hit 20 balls in 1 hr.

3. Play a course in your mind. Hit driver off the tee to a specific spot on the range. See the outcome. BE REAL about the location of the shot and play where your shot would have landed.

4. Hit short shots to balls lying on the range. Hit it high, low but target a small area around the ball 20 yards away not a flag 150 yards out.

5. Find a practice green that allows chip shots.

6. Make 20 3-4' putts in a row.

7. Hit 10 30' putts in a row to under 2'.

8. Hit 10 (not in a row) 15 yard chips to <5', count the number of tries and do better next time. Switch spots after each 10 balls.

9. Hit 10 (not in a row) 30 yard pitches to <3', count the number of tries and do better next time. Switch spots after each 10 balls.

10. Play 9 holes Worst ball scramble with yourself. Make it harder by playing more balls or playing drawback on the green (Pull the chips back 5 paces or putts back double the distance to the hole)

 

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1 hour ago, criley4way said:

Play a course in your mind. Hit driver off the tee to a specific spot on the range. See the outcome. BE REAL about the location of the shot and play where your shot would have landed.

This is what I do. I'll add that I also hit to different targets which changes my sight lines and makes me think about actually aiming.

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8 hours ago, Hugh Jars said:

So I'm wondering, how do people go about effectively practicing to replicate an actual round

Play practice rounds. There isn’t a good way to practice the multitude of situations than actually playing. 

Practice should be focused on specific swing changes or working on hitting start lines with good shapes. 

When you’re talking about the pace of play, the different lies, the pressure... there is no good non-playing practice, I think.

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6 hours ago, pganapathy said:

So far example, if you are good enough to shape shots, one will be a draw, the next a fade etc.

Please don't do that.

17 minutes ago, saevel25 said:

Play practice rounds. There isn’t a good way to practice the multitude of situations than actually playing. 

Practice should be focused on specific swing changes or working on hitting start lines with good shapes. 

When you’re talking about the pace of play, the different lies, the pressure... there is no good non-playing practice, I think.

That's pretty spot on.

I was going to write up a whole thing, but I'll just piggy back on that.

At the end of the day, the range is for getting a good swing. Working. Practicing.

At the end of the day, the course is for allowing your natural athleticism and ability handle different shots. It's not like, with a ball 4" above your feet, you make a different swing. You make the same swing, maybe with some very, very minor changes to setup and dynamics… but it's still your swing.

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On the range i practice a swing change.. something big. If not i play a course, giving fairway and greens limits and keep score. Generally that took more than an hour and just hit 36 balls but with a lot of purpuse. 

Best practice is on the course. I usually go out and play 9 after i just played 18th hole. I generally play with 3 balls and try to play from different lies and winds. Sometime i play with those 3 balls but i play a tournament with them, keeping score of each ball and trying to shoot as low as I can.

Games with putting are simple, if you miss you loose or start over or level down.
Chipping could be the same, if you don´t leave it 6 feet from the flag you loose or level down.  

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If anything I do the reverse and make a sharp distinction between practice and playing.  To that end I practice shots that I have encountered, or expect to encounter, and leave it at that.  While I have tried making a game of practice; it isn't the same.  For me anyway.

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All of my practices are geared around different, specific shots. All the shots I have, or will encounter when playing for a score. I even make up strange shots to hit to alleviate any bordom that might set in.  By practicing various shot, I am seldom surprised by anything that might show up when playing for a score. Those various shots I practice also takes care of that muscle memory thing. What ever that is. 

I also change the conditions I hit those different, specific shots from. Thin lies, fluff lies, rough lies, uneven lies, muddy lies,  good lies,  low/high shots, hooks/slices, any other conditions/shots I can think of. . 

When on the range, I make a skinny fairway using what the range has available. Flags, and perimeter fences help with that. 

Almost all of my short game practices are done with retired, but still playable game balls. 

When practicing I always have a target to hit at. Someone once said if you don't aim at something, you won't hit anything. I also always use an  intermediate target for aiming purposes.

Essentially all I practice are golf shots. 

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12 hours ago, saevel25 said:

When yo’re talking about the pace of play, the different lies, the pressure... there is no good non-playing practice, I think.

Game based practice? Ive listened to a couple of podcasts recently about incorporating games and challenges into practice to strive towards goals and encourage improvement.

8 hours ago, Patch said:

 

I also change the conditions I hit those different, specific shots from. Thin lies, fluff lies, rough lies, uneven lies, muddy lies,  good lies,  low/high shots, hooks/slices, any other conditions/shots I can think of. . 

 

How do you do this on the range?

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Id really like to know what percentage of amatuers out there on the range realistically have the ability to be able to shape shots and play a controlled draw and a fade at will. Id hazard a guess that 99% of golfers out there have one goal in mind when hitting any shot - to just hit it straight. 

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Just now, Hugh Jars said:

Id really like to know what percentage of amatuers out there on the range realistically have the ability to be able to shape shots and play a controlled draw and a fade at will. Id hazard a guess that 99% of golfers out there have one goal in mind when hitting any shot - to just hit it straight. 

I hope not.

Nobody should hit a straight shot, really.

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3 hours ago, Hugh Jars said:

Game based practice? Ive listened to a couple of podcasts recently about incorporating games and challenges into practice to strive towards goals and encourage improvement.

How do you do this on the range?

I will find spots that are similar to what ever shot I am practicing. Sometimes I can find those different lies on the range. Other times in other practice areas my home course provides. 

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11 hours ago, Hugh Jars said:

Id really like to know what percentage of amatuers out there on the range realistically have the ability to be able to shape shots and play a controlled draw and a fade at will. Id hazard a guess that 99% of golfers out there have one goal in mind when hitting any shot - to just hit it straight. 

I'm great at doing it by UN intentionally !!!!!!!!

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The major problem with trying to mimic play on a practice range is that the practice range always gives you a perfectly flat lie! There are no uphill, downhill, or sidehill lies. This is why I'd much rather play than practice. Unless something goes wrong that I am doing repeatedly, that I can't work my way out of on the course. That's when it's time to hit the range and work things out. 

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On 3/21/2019 at 2:29 PM, Hugh Jars said:

practicing to replicate an actual round?

I don't.

The reason I practice at the range is to improve my swing and work on fixing specific problems I had on the course. (I have a coach).

The best way to "replicate an actual round" is to play actual golf or alternatively, in regards to your "replicate" question: play a round on the simulators that have a hydraulic platform (see picture).

Sure, at the range you can start with the driver, change to long iron etc and end it with a putter and take a short break. However that only replicates the change of clubs.

In my neighborhood almost all golf simulators have hydraulic platforms with artificial mats for rough, sand and fairway.

hqdefault.jpg.8f177d284c7bd61646b71b5c2feb0769.jpg

(That's not me on the picture, it is the first image with a tilted platform that I found on the web)

Edited by Nave

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29 minutes ago, Nave said:

I don't.

The reason I practice at the range is to improve my swing and work on fixing specific problems I had on the course. (I have a coach).

The best way to "replicate an actual round" is to play actual golf or alternatively, in regards to your "replicate" question: play a round on the simulators that have a hydraulic platform (see picture).

Sure, at the range you can start with the driver, change to long iron etc and end it with a putter and take a short break. However that only replicates the change of clubs.

In my neighborhood almost all golf simulators have hydraulic platforms with artificial mats for rough, sand and fairway.

hqdefault.jpg.8f177d284c7bd61646b71b5c2feb0769.jpg

(That's not me on the picture, it is the first image with a tilted platform that I found on the web)

This is pretty good.  I would also add in that the TIME factor is huge.  It's easy to bang balls in machine gun mode on the simulator or on the range.  I think delaying each and every shot for several minutes to allow your body to go "cold" is a huge part of it.  You're going to hit great golf shots while you're warm and in a groove.  On the golf course, to me, the biggest difference is the fact that you have a lot of time between shots to go cold and you also as seen above, have variable conditions and lies.  The platform thingy above is pretty awesome.  TIME between shots is also a big deal or at least it is for me.  Staying warm and in a groove on a simulator makes you think you're better than you are.  You have the advantage of short term repetition and it's far too easy to "feel" the movements.  Over a course of 18 holes and walking or even riding to your ball, you don't have that luxury.

Edited by ncates00

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44 minutes ago, ncates00 said:

This is pretty good.  I would also add in that the TIME factor is huge.  It's easy to bang balls in machine gun mode on the simulator or on the range.  I think delaying each and every shot for several minutes to allow your body to go "cold" is a huge part of it.  You're going to hit great golf shots while you're warm and in a groove.  On the golf course, to me, the biggest difference is the fact that you have a lot of time between shots to go cold and you also as seen above, have variable conditions and lies.  The platform thingy above is pretty awesome.  TIME between shots is also a big deal or at least it is for me.  Staying warm and in a groove on a simulator makes you think you're better than you are.  You have the advantage of short term repetition and it's far too easy to "feel" the movements.  Over a course of 18 holes and walking or even riding to your ball, you don't have that luxury.

Using an abbreviated pre-shot routine between driving range shots works pretty well.

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