By Alex Riggs, PXG Middle East Brand Ambassador
To make the most out of your time on the practice range, always ensure you are including these three elements:
Practice with measured alignment to a defined target
• Use an alignment stick.
• Change up the location or target line often to ensure you are comfortable hitting towards different directions.
Practice routine as you would use on the golf course
• Stand behind the ball.
• Visualise the target you are hitting towards and draw an imaginary line to that target from your ball.
Apply pressure and get yourself out of your comfort zone
• Effective practice should ideally be more intense than competition.
• Dealing with nerves is possible through challenging practice.
• Our goal should not be to find a groove, but rather to ‘master adaptation’.
Here is a practice exercise that incorporates all of these elements:
Start by setting up an alignment aid towards a defined target. Grab your highest lofted club, for me that was my 58* and hit a ball with a swing length of only 1/3 of your full swing. If both the strike and direction were quality, you will move on to hitting the same club with a swing 2/3rds the length of your full swing. Again, if that shot is of a high standard, move on to a full–length swing with that club. Once all three shots have been performed, you will move on to the next club in the bag. This same process will continue until you complete your longest iron. At any point, if either the strike or direction are not up to high standard, perform the attempt again until you are happy with the result.
To make this exercise even more challenging, I will have players go back one shot after an unsuccessful attempt. So, if they push their pitching wedge to the right on the full swing attempt, I will make them execute the 2/3rd swing again before they can try the full swing.
This exercise is very powerful as it will put pressure on you to execute your shots on the first try. You are also challenging yourself through various swing lengths which is extremely valuable for everyone. Lastly, you are using all the wedges and irons in your bag, so you will gain comfort knowing that you can change through any club in the bag with ease.
You will likely find yourself losing focus at some points during a longer exercise like this. Use your routine to bring you back and you will increase your consistency in execution.
We all know that practice is important to improvement, but what is most often misunderstood is how best to spend this practice time. The next time you catch yourself grooving out seven irons on the range, remember that golf is a random game that demands adaptation, therefore it should be practiced in the same way.