Effective Practice – Full Swing Part I

by Derek Hooper

If you want to get better at this game, there is only one way to accomplish that – practice. I don’t just mean going to a driving range and hitting a large bucket of balls with your driver with no target and no goals for that session. That is exercise not practice. If you want to get better you need to do regular, effective practice.

Effective practice is any practice session where before you begin you clearly define what you will do in that session, how you will do it and you will have a measure to know if you achieved your goal. Only once you start doing this type of practice regularly will you start to see real improvement in your golf game. So how do you devise such a practice session?

Your first step is to assess your current full swing game and decide what aspect of it, if improved, will give you the greatest gains in performance. Taking a golf lesson with your local PGA Professional is the quickest, easiest and most accurate assessment of your swing you can get, and will be time and money well spent. They will break down your swing with you and explain where and why you are getting into trouble, before showing you practice drills to help you improve the areas of weakness. They will also tell you how to assess your ball flight so you will know if you are doing the drill correctly and thus improving.

Armed with these practice drills, you can now design your effective practice session by answering the questions and guidelines below:

1. How much total time to I have for my practice session?

2. Set up an effective practice station on a quiet section of the range, with clubs on the ground for alignment and ball position.

3. There should be at least two practice swings for every ball hit.

4. Golf is a target game, so always practice to a target.

5. Give every shot and practice swing your fullest attention – quality is more important than quantity.

6. Examine your ball flight after every shot and ask yourself if during the swing you achieved the swing change you are trying to make.

7. Based on the last swing and ball flight decide your focus for the next set of practice swing and shot. Be sure to stay focused on the goals and drills for that particular practice session. Do not allow yourself to drift into reactionary practice where all you are doing is making corrections based on the previous shot.

Follow this effective practice outline every time you work on your full swing and coupled with regular feedback from your PGA Professional, your improvement is all but guaranteed.

Derek Hooper is the Director of Instruction at Lake of Isles Golf Academy. Derek has a college degree in teaching and over 14 years experience conducting lesson programs in Australia, Japan and Taiwan. Before moving to the United States, Derek was the Director of Instruction at the David Duval Golf Academy in Miyazaki, Japan. Derek can be contacted at 888.475.3746 or dhooper@troongolf.com.