Not all golfers like to practice; in fact, some will dread it.
However, as a young player and even still today, I loved spending time on the range.
Practicing golf on the driving range and chipping green made me feel more prepared for the golf course. When I played my next round, I always felt more confident after a good practice session.
However, there is an art to balancing practice and play that all amateur players should better understand.
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How Often Should You Practice Golf?
Golfers should be practicing and hitting balls at least three times per week if they are serious about improving their game. For those that simply want to maintain their current level, once or twice a week could be enough for that.
When deciding how often you should practice golf, you must consider the number of practice sessions, the duration, and the type.
Days Per Week
Three practice sessions per week are ideal.
This goes beyond just hitting golf balls at the range and should include putting green and chipping green. If you are looking for real improvement in your game, ensure that you incorporate drills that help with ball flight, distance, control, and more.
I always liked to try and get some video of my swing technique or even use a launch monitor to measure swing speed and other data parameters. Doing this allowed for a more effective practice session.
Hours Per Practice Session
Now that we have practice frequency determined, it’s important to also consider practice duration.
The great thing about golf practice is that you don’t have to be out on the range for hours to develop muscle memory and make real changes in your golf game. In fact, some players have their best practice sessions when they keep it short.
Warm up for a few minutes and do some stretches, then hit five or ten golf balls and determine what you will work on. If your golf game has been good lately, simply focus on tempo and balance in your swing.
You may hit a bucket of balls and feel like that was all you needed, but other golfers will practice for hours without feeling like they accomplished what they needed. Most practice sessions only need to be about 30 to 45 minutes.
In this time frame, you can include both full swing practice and short game practice.
Type of Practice Session
Sometimes golf practice includes standing on the driving range and hitting one shot after another, but sometimes playing on the golf course can also count as practice.
If you are not playing a tournament round and instead going out on the golf course to practice different holes, it can lead to faster improvement.
Try to mix up the types of practice that you do. Sometimes you may want to just bring your 7 iron to the range and work on hitting it higher, lower, left, and right. Other times it may make sense to work on your long game or to head to the course and practice from 100 yards and in on the course.
To make the most significant changes on the golf course, you must be thinking about transferring your practice to your game. It’s not realistic to hit 15 drivers in a row; this will never happen to you on the golf course.
Instead, vary the shots you are hitting, work on different areas of your golf swing, and be smarter about the practice sessions you have.
How Often Should You Be Playing a Round of Golf?
Many golfers wish that they could play golf every day of the week.
Although this concept may sound great, I can tell you that it is a bit exhausting. Golfers should remember that rest time is essential; any great instructor will be able to tell you that sometimes a break is necessary. Ideally, playing golf 2 to 3 times per week is the sweet spot for most people.
This certainly depends on your skill level as well as your free time.
Try to play 18 holes of golf at least once or twice weekly. If you are not playing this many times at a minimum, it becomes difficult to get anything good going as far as progress in your game.
Progress comes from consistency and dedication, and when you play golf twice per month, with not much practice mixed in, you won’t see that consistency.
9 hole rounds are a great option to add in when you are short on time. Many golf courses even offer a twilight rate on 9 holes. If you thought your days to play golf were just Saturday and Sunday, maybe you can fit in a 9 hole round on a Wednesday afternoon.
It can be hard to get friends and playing partners organized for a midweek 9 hole round. Therefore this is the perfect situation to use for a practice session. Play two golf balls if you are out there by yourself. Try to keep score on both golf balls to see how you do.
While you are out there, focus on the areas of the course that give you trouble and start paying attention to your course management and the golf swing flaws that you may have.
It can be hard to find a place to get a practice round of golf in. Many golf courses are booked with tee times from the start of the day to the end of the night. However, if you can potentially get out as a single to work on your game, it will really pay off.
The best tips I can give you for this practice round are to look for the first or last tee times of the day. Sometimes if you go out really early, there will be no other golfers ready to play and you can head out there and really work on your game.
The last tee time of the day means the golf course will be emptying out, and you may also get a quick practice round in. I know how hard this can be to find an opportunity. I have been known to head out on the golf course in a bit of rain to get this done; most golfers leave but if you have the right gear, playing in the rain is not all that bad.
Should You Focus More on Practice or Playing to Improve Your Game?
When people try to lose weight, they have to find the perfect balance between diet and exercise. Without this proper combination, they may have no success and feel as though the diet is failing them. Golf practice and improvement are exactly the same.
If you want to improve your golf game, you must find the perfect balance of practice and play. For me, this is two rounds of golf per week that are competitive (even if just against friends), one round of golf that is a practice type round where I think more, and then two to three good practice sessions.
Sometimes those practice sessions are before or after a round; other times, they are going to be on my off days. There is certainly no perfect amount of time to spend on the range or the course. Some golfers that have injuries or issues with their back can only practice once per week.
The bottom line is to see what your body can handle and see how your golf game is progressing. Pay close attention to your scores and the way that your practice and playing schedule is impacting your scores.
If you are playing golf four days a week, but your handicap is going up, it may be time to back it down a little, and turn one of those rounds into a practice session.
Can You Practice Golf Too Much?
Golf can be practiced too much. Professional golfers work on their game day in and day out, but they didn’t start this process overnight.
They know what they need to do to get to the level they are expected to play in an event, and this requires time with instructors, feedback sessions on the range, tons of time on putting green, and more.
However, your full-time job is likely not golf, and therefore you can practice to the point that you tire yourself out and even start creating bad habits. Practicing golf too much can lead to an injury and cause problems for players that don’t know how to practice properly.
If you are new to the game, take things slow. Work on practicing at least once or twice per week and then start to increase from there. Remember that practice sessions do not need to be an hour long; they can be 30 minutes but still be extremely effective.
The key is to find a sweet spot that works for your brain and your body. This is where you will see the most effective practice and the results that transfer to the golf course.