How to Practice at Home
There are no shortcuts. There will be no way to get around the amount of practice you will have to undertake in order to excel at golf. According to astrophysicist turned golf specialist Dave Pelz you will have to complete at least 10,000 repetitions to change or alter a muscle movement and 20,000 repetitions for this movement to become permanent. That’s a lot of reps! Although that might sound like an impossible number it is doable. If you were to hit just 100 balls a day from May 1st until August 8th you would reach that number!
Here are things I do to get in the necessary practice when I can’t make it to the course.
Get up earlier than the baby
Until pre-school began my little boy was on a 10am to 10pm schedule. He would go to bed at 10pm and wake up at 10am and also nap for a few hours during the day. This was his natural cadence; when he was in my tummy he bounced around a lot at those two times and this rhythm continued after he was born. When the golf season started I used this to my advantage; I would get up and start practicing at 8:30 getting in a good hour and a half before he awoke.
Go to bed later than the baby
You might have a baby that wakes early (my best friend’s kids wake at 5:30am) making rising earlier than them impossible. More than likely they are also in bed by 6:30pm. Practice from when they go down until 8:00pm or so, and then you can have some chillax time. (When I was desperate for practice I used this time as well, my boy would go down at 10 and I would hit balls until 11:30 at night crawling into bed exhausted by midnight.)
Set up a net
My husband and I bought a golf net on the internet and set it up underneath some trees next to our house. In front of it we put a hand-built golf mat. Being under the trees protected me from sun and light rain also. We have buckets and buckets of extra golf balls that we have found or been given and I would hit these into the net for hours on end.
Putt on the carpet
This alone is one of the biggest contributors to improving my score. I continue to use this technique to this day despite a world-class practice putting green at my home course. This way I can always get in a few putts almost whenever. What’s great is it forces me to work on my speed. Because I am putting on flat carpet there is no break and because I am not trying to them into a hole I don’t have that goal to take away from the process of trying to make a good putting stroke. Speed drills on my carpet in my house have been instrumental in getting my putting average down to 31 putts per round. I can also get in as many as 300 putts in 45 minutes making it extremely time effective.
I cannot stress how valuable this practice technique is. I would put the boy down for his nap, turn on some of my favorite tunes, line up 20 or so balls and hit them to increasingly precise distances back and forth in our office space. This technique is impervious to weather; I have done it while there was 2 feet of snow on the ground in January or just on a rainy day when the course was too soggy. You can even do it in your PJs, and yet putting is so valuable we should do this even once they are grown!
Chip to the flowerbed
My husband hates this one because the better I get the more I am able to disturb his precious hosta plants. While you don’t have to choose a flower to be your target chipping around in the yard works wonders. You can’t get a good idea of how much roll you will cause but you can see how far your ball will carry. It’s great because you get practice out of the rough, and from different lies. Since most chips don’t carry more than 5-10 yards you can do this even in a small yard. Use your child’s old hula hoop and try to hit 15 out of 30 balls into the circle a few yards away. Like putting on the carpet this can be done whenever and without having to travel all the way to the course or practice area.
Use nap time
We all love the precious hour or two of naptime you get to yourself when the baby goes down. I used this time to practice a lot, outdoors or indoors with the baby monitor nearby. The most important point is: Have your practice time planned out before the baby goes down. It’s easy to gobble up the first 20-30 minutes of a nap wandering around and eating, making phone calls, or texting. Know exactly what you’re going to do and go directly for it.
For example, I might know that I needed the 2 hour nap to practice, start dinner, and pay some bills online. I would set aside the first hour and 15 minutes to practice, having everything lined up in advance, and hitting 150 to 400 balls during this time. Starting dinner was the noisiest because the kitchen is not far from the nursery and I wanted to snack, so next I would make food for myself and also get things ready for dinner for about 20 minutes. During the last 20 minutes I would plop in front of the computer and eat my snacks while I paid bills for 20-25 minutes.
Use special balls
Balls that you can hit with a full swing, but that don’t go as far as regular golf balls are great for the yard. I like the Almost Golf balls that behave just like regular balls but only go a third of the distance. I can hit full swings with my pitching wedge around the yard with this ball and the ball flight will be the same but it will only go about 35 yards. I recommend: http://www.almostgolf.com/
Make a game of it
When your child is old enough to hold a club have them join in on it hitting balls into the net with you. Hopefully they have as much fun as you do. If they don’t, more than likely they will lose interest and move on to something else after a little bit but as long as you are outside and interacting with them they probably won’t complain too much if you keep at it. You also have a helper for clean up!♣