When it comes to improving your golf game it can be a minefield deciding how and the best way to go about it. Do you go for private lessons or take the challenge of game improvement yourself? If you go for lessons, then you need to ask yourself what type of coach do you choose? These questions don’t even scratch the surface when it comes to the choices you can make in your quest to improve your golf game. As a teaching PGA Professional of over 15 years, I often see my clients make the same single mistake when it comes to starting to improve their golf game. No matter what standard you are, the starting place for improvement in any golfer always evaluation.
Now, as you are reading this I’m sure you are thinking, but I already know where I am in each area of my golf game! But do you? I recently ran this experiment with a few of my clients during a game of golf. I would secretly mark down their performance in each of the following areas:
GIR (Greens in Regulation)
After the round we had a debrief of how they played, and I asked them to mark their performance in the above areas out of ten. I then showed my marks and the notes of performance and there was a significant difference between our opinions. When we looked and compared, there was a vast difference of opinion around their short game and putting. After a short conversation and talking through my notes of particular holes where shots were wasted we both agreed they could have saved between 20 to 25 shots in each of their rounds if they improved performance in their short game and putting.
Now for the interesting part… When I asked my clients how much they practiced short game and putting it wasn’t too much of a surprise to learn that their answers mirrored their performance. Typically practice in their short game would only be practice for 10-15 minutes before they went out to play (generally once a week). In stark comparison they would happily visit the range and practice areas multiple times throughout the week and test their swing on full shots for up to 3 hours per week. By assessing these individuals games, I was able to present to them that they took around 40% of their shots on short game and putting but yet only practiced those elements for 5% of their total practice time.
This is the mistake I see players make time and time again. Every player wants to hit the attractive shots into the green or the long drive but it’s not necessarily where you’ll make the biggest impact on your score. To really accelerate your golf game you must attribute your time in practice to improving the weak areas of your game in proportion to the amount of shots you take during a round of golf. Tour players are masters at this art of time management. In a four hour practice session, 2 hours of that time will be spent on short game as that is where they hit most of their shots.
Try this exercise before your next round of golf – the results might be very different to how you perceive them.