Is the Secret in the Dirt?
Ben Hogan told us, “The secret is in the dirt.”
Gary Player quipped, “The more I practice, the luckier I get.”
Golf has no shortage of quotations like these, equating more work with more improvement. But is it true? Do you need massive amounts of practice to improve? In this lesson, I’ll offer an alternate view.
This Lesson Is For You If:
You’re not practicing because you don’t think you have enough time
You’re practicing a lot but not getting great results
Minimum Effective Dose
When you have a headache, you take an aspirin, maybe two. Why don’t you take six or ten or twenty? Because one or two is enough to get the job done. That’s the minimum effective dose – the smallest amount you can take to get the desired results. We should think about practice in those terms.
If your current amount of practice is zero, any additional practice will get results (assuming it’s quality practice). Similarly, if your current handicap is very high, a little practice can yield big changes.
Find a way to get a little practice into your week (find some ideas HERE). Get to the range and hit a small bucket instead of skipping it because you don’t have time for the jumbo. Go to the putting green and hit 10 putts or chips. You don’t need hours of practice to see results.
On the other end of the spectrum is the guy who walks to his spot on the range with two barrels of golf balls. He’s on the range from morning to night, but you wouldn’t know it by the quality of his game.
Why isn’t he getting results? Because he’s trading quality for quantity. Rather than practicing in a smart, focused way for 30 minutes, he’s smashing four balls per minute without any thought of what he’s doing.
While you may not be that extreme, it’s worth thinking about what you have in common with this guy. Are you going through the motions or really committed to every swing? You might get better results from spending less time on the range.
Don’t let the stories about Hogan and Vijay scare you away from practicing. At the professional level, yes, you need to devote hours to the game. For the recreational player, a small amount of practice can lead to meaningful improvement, and for some of us, a little may actually be better than a lot.