Golf column: Practice with a purpose and make it fun

What is the difference between amateurs’ and pros’ practice sessions? The difference is amateurs just want to bang golf balls and pros practice with a purpose.

Chad Knudson
Chad Knudson

Amateurs don’t practice the short game while pros spend the majority of their time on the short game.

Ever heard of drive for show and putt for dough? There is some truth to that statement.

So why don’t we practice the short game more? I believe because it can be boring or we make it boring. Who wants to putt for hours at a time? My tip is to make it fun and work on a part of your game at the same time by practicing with a friend and play putting games.

One example of a putting game is called 7 Up.

Rules for 7 Up

• Flip a tee to determine starting order.

• Leadoff player picks a hole and a starting position.

• Each player putts to the hole.

• You can score on sinks and closest to the hole:

-Score +1 for closest to the hole

-Score +2 for a sink

-Score -1 for a three putt

• You have to get to seven points exactly to win. If you go over, you start over (from zero).

• Player who was closest to the hole (or was the last one to sink) has the honors for the next hole.

Practicing with a purpose should be maximized when practicing the full swing.

Too many players just hit ball after ball at the same flag and hit the ball as far as they can. The tip is to practice on the range like it is a golf course. This will help with visualization and putting yourself under some pressure.

That is funny I mention pressure. Who has ever had pressure on the range (unless you have hit a couple of shanks in row)?

Many players say they are great on the range but can’t take it to the course. It’s because they have not practiced under pressure.

Practicing without a purpose is nearly useless or in many times hurts an amateur’s golf game because they will always be trying to hit the ball straight, and when they don’t hit it straight they start messing with their swing. That is never a good idea without the assistance of a golf professional.

A good tip is to hit some balls with a fade, some with a draw and some straight.

So let’s play a hole on the driving range.

First, you need to decide if it is a par-4 or 5. Let’s say you decided on a par-4. Second, you will need to visualize the hole and select a club to hit from the tee box. It’s a par-4 so you hit a driver. You make a great swing and hit it pretty straight down the middle.

Next, you visualize that the next shot has left you 155 yards to the back left pin location. So you are going to hit an 8-iron and aim at the middle of the green.

You sliced it and it’s up short right of the green. So now you are left with a 20-yard pitch shot. You take your sand wedge and pitch it to the pretend hole location you selected just off the practice deck.

How did you do visualizing this hole while you were practicing? Did you feel the pressure of what the golf course can give you? This type of practice will not help with visualization and pressure testing, but it will make it fun to practice.

Chad Knudson is PGA assistant golf professional at the TPC Twin Cites, Blaine

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