What’s the Right Amount of Practice?
I’ve noted before that golf fetishizes players like Ben Hogan and Vijay Singh who beat balls until their hands bleed. That leads many people to answer the question in the heading with things like, “All the practice!” In this lesson, I’m going to suggest that the correct answer is a little more complicated but much less extreme.
This Lesson Is For You If:
You care at all about your golf game. Seriously. This one is for everybody.
The Answer is…
“What does your talent allow?”
Every golfer is different. Based on our age, playing experience, natural ability, and other factors, we need different amounts of practice to maintain our current level of play.
As I discussed on a recent episode of the podcast [listen HERE], I have found how much practice I need to maintain my current level of play. If I hit 10 putts, 10 chips, and make 10 swings every day, I can play golf at a reasonable level of competence. In truth, I’ll probably make slow improvements on this plan, but I’m just trying to tread water.
I have friends who would laugh at doing this much work to maintain their current play. One such friend laid up his clubs for a couple years, walked onto a major championship course, and proceeded to shoot in the 70s. That’s what his level of talent allows. Every golfer is different.
What About Improvement?
If you’re not content with your current level of play, you need to figure out how much practice it takes to maintain your skills and go beyond that.
In my case, if I wanted to see lower scores, I’d need to put in a very solid session each week with the driver and make time for wedge work from 100 yards and in. My current putting regimen consists almost entirely of four-footers, so I’d need to add more speed work, too.
*It’s worth noting that, for many golfers, time alone will not improve their game; they also need instruction. If you’re trying to find a coach, click HERE for a good place to start.
The Final Piece of the Puzzle
Discussing the right amount of practice would be incomplete without mentioning goals and expectations. If you expect your scores to drop, you need to practice a lot more than if you expect to keep shooting the same scores that you have for the last few years. The beauty of expectations is that no one but you gets to control them. You can set your expectations to match your ability and practice time, two things you have significantly less control over.
Right now, my expectations for my game are aligned with my ability and practice plan. I want to get the ball around the course and hit a couple memorable shots along the way. The bar is low, my practice demands are minimal, and I have enough ability to make this work. I’m a happy golfer.
I hope this lesson helps you to match the pieces of your puzzle together to find more joy in your game.