“All great golfers have been great practicers at some time or other in their lives. Practicing golf is an art unto itself. The sooner you master the art, the better you’ll play. The more you improve the quality of your practice, the less quantity you’ll need.”
Jack Grout 1977: Let Me Teach You Golf As I Taught Jack Nicklaus
- The first rule of good practice is to have a plan. Don’t just go out and “hit balls.” Plan some specific objective you want to meet. Practice some swing component. Try to groove your swing. Work on aiming. Work on distance. Different practice sessions should have different goals. Just make sure you have one.
- Practice as much as you can. Most of us don’t want to pay our “sweat equity.” Often enough while growing up, I experienced my father’s high regard for “putting in your time on the rock pile.” One afternoon on the practice tee, during his tenure as teacher-in-chief at Muirfield Village Golf Club, I walked over to him and complained about how sore my hands were from hitting balls. He scanned my puffy red paws, then looked me straight in the eye and said, “That’s good, now go back and hit some more.”
- Practice what you don’t do well. Instead of automatically reaching for the favorite clubs in your bag, pull out the ones that are misbehaving and work on them. Everyone likes to bang out drives. Few people will spend hours chipping and putting. Through careful analysis, determine your weaknesses and set about trying to improve them.
- Take lessons. Even PGA Tour players need the analytical eye of a competent teacher to keep their games sharp. I’ve taken over 1000 lessons in my life and have learned something from every one of them. Naturally, some pros taught me more than others. Be selective and stick with the teacher(s) you like.
- Spend time studying the game and the golf swing. There’s not a successful player who doesn’t know a great deal about the golf swing and how they swing and play. Learn about the game by reading books and by listening for helpful hints that you happen to pick up along the way. Evaluate everything and use what works.
- Prepare yourself both physically and psychologically. Keep your body and mind in tiptop shape. Don’t settle for less than the best from yourself in these areas. Utilize every advantage there is to help you play better.
- Practice and play within yourself and your capabilities. Rise to your highest level. Accept your limitations of time, of talent, of technique, of physicality and strength. However, never stop trying to improve and never stop loving the game. It’s like no other you will be privileged to play.