Practice Variability

Stop Hitting the Same Shot!

During the PGA Tour event at Kapalua this year, Jordan Spieth said this,

“I think this course…with the amount of slope and uneven lies and the amount of imagination you need…it brings out more the feel side of my game.”

It made me think about the importance of adaptability and how you can develop that ability on the range.

This Lesson Is For You If:

You hit the same shot over and over on the range

Your practice doesn’t translate to the course

You want to be able to adapt to conditions while playing

Make Practice Like the Game

If you were trying to guess what golf is based on how golfers practice, you’d think it consisted of hitting the same club, off a perfect lie, at the same target over and over again.  Of course we know that it’s not.  On the course, you almost never hit the same club twice in a row, your lie and stance are rarely perfect, and the target is different every time.  You should aim to make your practice more like the game.

The best way to do this is to switch clubs after every shot.  While this is easy to say, it’s very hard to do.  After a bad shot, we want to hit another one to prove the bad one was a fluke.  After a good shot, we want to get another taste of success.  Force yourself to change clubs and you’ll be on your way to better practice.

You can also vary other elements like shot shape, trajectory, and the lie you’re playing from.  Can you hit a small cut then a big slice?  Can you follow a stinging low shot with a moon ball?

If you commit to this kind of practice, you’ll find many benefits.  First, practice will be more fun.  You’ll be more engaged when you’re constantly switching the task rather than pounding the same shot over and over.  Also, working on skills will get you away from making the weekly “swing changes” that are wrecking your game.

Learn and Take the Knowledge to the Course

Another major benefit from variable practice is that you will learn about your game.  If you pound straight ball after straight ball, you learn nothing.  However, when you’re hitting different shapes and trajectories you can figure out what shots you can rely on and which ones shouldn’t come to the course.  Combine that knowledge with sound course management and you’ll be shooting lower scores very soon.

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Matt Saternus

Co-Founder, Editor In Chief at PluggedInGolf.com
Matt is a golf instructor, club fitter, and writer living in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. Matt's work has been published in Mulligan Magazine, Chicagoland Golf, South Florida Golf, and other golf media outlets. He's also been a featured speaker in the Online Golf Summit and is a member of Ultimate Golf Advantage's Faculty of Experts.

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11 Comments

  1. That”s the best advice I received in a long time. I am one of those guys that went to the driving range an hit 4 or 5 shots with one club, I will now take your advice an practice the proper way. Thanks so much for the great advice.

  2. That sounds good…as long as your current ball contact is good…but if it takes 10 balls with one club to reliably strike cleanly before going to the next club…then switching clubs at each ball would likely mean you will never hit any club cleanly…quite a confidence builder :(

  3. Good question…i think if my skill at ball striking was reliably high then your practice regimen would be good for confidence…if not then no…thanks for your reply…much appreciated

  4. were you the guy standing beside me on the range, taking notes?

    “After a bad shot, we want to hit another one to prove the bad one was a fluke. After a good shot, we want to get another taste of success.”

  5. Ernest Poirier

    I can see the point of this article, but I’d like to suggest, that hitting the same shot, over and over again, could be beneficial.

    If you’re trying to engrain the mechanics of the proper swing, reprogramming muscle memory, improving hand/eye coordination, there is something to be said about, hitting 10 perfect drives in a row.

    Somewhere on the internet, there is a range “game”, that goes a bit like this:
    Hit your Driver. If the ball goes where you aimed (well struck), you grab your PW.
    If the ball goes where you want it and is well struck, you go back to your Driver.
    Hit it well? Grab your 9 iron.
    Hit it well? Reward = grab your Driver again.
    repeating through all your irons.

    If you hit a bad iron/wedge, you start over. You’ll hit your driver the most, and then your wedges, followed by short irons, and least with your long irons. Those “in the know” say, if you want to shave strokes off your score, work on your short game.

    • Matt Saternus

      Improving your short game can yield the fastest score improvements, but improving your ball striking will yield the biggest score improvements.

      Best,

      Matt

  6. Duke Grimshaw

    I was told in the past to take 2-3 clubs to the range and work on contact and tempo. That is so boring! This makes more sense and slows down the time between swings. #SecretGiveaway

  7. Guillermo Rodriguez

    Finding time to practice and practice correctly is the ultimate challenge.

  8. Guillermo Rodriguez

    Great article #SecretGiveaway

  9. Good stuff here. Unless I am working on something with my swing. I try to never hit the same shot twice in a row on the range, putting green or chipping. Half or more of hitting a golf shot takes place before the swing. If you don’t practice that variable it never translates to the course. #SecretGiveway

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