Have you ever hit 100 balls at the driving range? 250? 500?
You feel like a total stud afterwards, don’t you? Rightfully so, this is an accomplishment! It takes courage and dedication to spend time at the driving range hitting balls no matter who is watching you, how hot, cold, or rainy it is, and or how many embarrassing. shots you hit.
Perhaps you have a tournament coming up. Perhaps you had a lesson recently and want to ingrain what you learned. Or, maybe, you know that golf takes a tremendous amount of practice and you have some lofty goals that simply won’t happen without lots of time paying your dues. Whatever drives you it is important to distinguish between the quantity of your practice and the quality of it.
I used to hit thousands of balls; hundreds every day during the summer. Quite simply, I know that none of the pros got to where they are by hitting balls for 30 minutes every day and playing just twice per week. But sometimes I would just be logging balls, trying to get the number of reps I had set for myself for the day, and it didn’t matter how crappy I hit it.
I read, okay devoured, a book by a man who achieved the goal of becoming a scratch golfer within one year. The amount of work he did is unprecedented. For the first six months he practiced and played full-time meaning 12 hours, 6 days per week. The second six months was part-time meaning 8 hours, 3 days per week. He began with a 26 handicap; he ended with a 0 handicap. However, after the journey was done he made a few observations. He says: “I would cut back significantly on the amount of time I spent on the course…, probably by fifty percent and allocate part of that to training and the rest to my family.” He also says that he would spend at least 45 minutes but no more than 75 minutes during a specific practice session and that he would spend less time practicing if he achieved his specific performance targets with quality concentration.
This last point is very important. If he had it to do all over again he would have focused on qualitative improvement, rather than sheer ball-hitting repetitions.
I often ask myself, why can’t I commit to such a regimen? I would have reached my goals long since! Then I must remember that several barriers stand in my way that he did not have, such as: (1) Working, (2) A colder climate, (3) Being mom. He had taken time off work for the first 6 months of his journey and his young child was blessed with a stay at home mom. He also lived in Texas.
As a mom, one simply doesn’t have the time for all-day golf sessions. My suggestion? Make your improvement about quality rather than quantity.
Techniques to Achieve this:
After hitting 10 balls perfectly in a row quit that skill and move on to something else.
- Stop after hitting two-thirds of some number of balls exactly the way you wanted and work on another skill.
- Separate your practice time into two segments: maintenance and growth. Maintenance is about keeping your skills up in the different areas; growth is about improving your skills, such as hitting it longer, or chipping it closer. You could do both on the same day or split them up across days.
- Work on being good enough. Most of the time golf is about managing your misses. Focus on being good enough, but not perfect, so you don’t feel compelled to spend precious hours trying to get something exactly right.
Golf is not perfect and neither are you. No one will ever master this game. The girl or guy who spends 10 hours on the range hitting ball after ball after ball perfectly? That means squat if they can’t take it to the course and execute. Much better is the more experienced person who knows exactly how much practice she needs to reinforce her skills and then to feel confident and take on the course. More is not better, BETTER is better.
Quality beats quantity any day of the week.♣