What’s the Purpose of Your Practice?

Give Your Practice Purpose

Not every practice session is the same.  There’s a world of difference between an hour in a golf dome in the middle of winter and thirty minutes on the practice green the day before your club championship.  However, every practice session needs a purpose.  In this lesson, we’ll discuss different modes of practice and when to use them.

This Lesson Is For You If:

You don’t have a purpose when you practice

You want to get better, more defined results

Three Purposes of Practice

I’ve identified three different purposes for practice.  If you have other categories, feel free to post them in the comments section below, but these three provide a good framework for defining your purpose.

General Improvement

This is the kind of practice session where you’re working on your long term goals.  In my opinion, this should be your purpose the vast majority of the time.

As an example, you may have the goal of improving your contact with your driver.  If you spend part or all of a practice session working toward that goal, it would fall into this category.  You may work on two or three goals within one session, particularly if you spend some time on the range and some time on the putting green.

Do not understand General Improvement as “Just go to the range and hit some shots.”  If you want to see improvement, you need clearly defined goals and a plan for achieving them.  You can find dozens of lessons on practice planning HERE.

Emergency Interventions

When your confidence is shattered because of six three-putts or seven drives that sliced off the planet, you may need an Emergency Intervention practice session.  Every golfer knows what this looks like: you go to the range with only the offending club, and you work until you’ve fixed the problem.

This is different than General Improvement because it has nothing to do with your long term goals.  The purpose here is to get the gremlins out of your putter/driver/lob wedge so you can play golf again.

It should go without saying that Emergency Interventions should represent a very small minority of your overall practice time.  If you’re constantly in emergency mode, you need to step back and reevaluate your approach to your game.

Building Confidence

Building Confidence sessions are exactly what they sound like: time at the range to boost your self esteem.  There are a number of occasions where this type of practice is preferred.

If you have a round coming up, but you haven’t played or practiced in a while, knock the rust off.  Hit a bunch of shots, find some rhythm, and leave feeling good about your game.

You may also use this type of practice to taper down before a big event.  If your club championship is on Sunday, you don’t want to spend Friday and Saturday grinding on drills and making changes.  See some putts go in the hole, hit some drives, and get some rest.

The problem many golfers have is that they are perpetually in this mode.  If you don’t have the goal of improving your game, that’s totally fine.  However, if you want to see your handicap go down, this cannot be your practice purpose most days.

The Takeaway

Every practice session needs a purpose.  If you want to see real improvement in your game, spend the majority of your practice sessions in General Improvement mode, and reserve Emergency Interventions for true emergencies.

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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.

4 Comments

  1. Leif Andersen

    Good stuff.send me some new golf balls.
    Box 113,
    Bow island alberta
    Canada t0k0g0
    Thanks

  2. Jim Dolliver

    This is what I needed. Thanks

  3. After having my neck fusion I have days where I have know strength .
    Tough boat to be in if you like to golf or live.
    Thanks for the article Matt.
    robin

  4. I am a retired person and a golfer. I am using my practice time to get the feel of a new home course. Moving from the Midwest to Mexico, I need time to get used to the bermuda grasses, rough, wind, and heavy sand. Also making the change to improvement irons. Need time and a plan for attacking my practices. WOW!! I need more practice. Driver, fairway woods, scoring wedges, and irons. Giving myself about 2 months to make changes.
    Just found your publication. Keep up the good work!

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