Let’s be honest here. We all need more practice on our golf games. Can you think of any sport other than golf where the athletes never practice, and then show up on the weekend for a full days activities and expect to perform well? Stiff muscles, out of shape, no flexibility, uncertainty about how far they are going to hit each club, and very little feel in a game that is all about feel; but they just can’t understand why their shots don’t go where they want them to, and why they can’t read the greens.
I was discussing this with a buddy the other day and here are a few of the tips we came up with. We all know that we do not want to spend lots of money every day at the driving range, and as we’ve discussed before, most of the time driving ranges just aren’t as beneficial as we’d like them to be. How many people have a golf course next door to their house where they can go to the putting clock or the chipping green? The putting clock is the only real place to practice your putting, so try to make it to the nearest course at least once a week if you are serious about putting. (Remember that putting accounts for 50% of most games.)
The driving net that is shown in the above picture can be nice, but there is an expense involved, the weather can destroy it, and sometimes there is no where to set it up that you’re not aiming at a neighbors house. And if there is an errant shot you might have a situation on your hands.
There are various training devises that golfers can do inside or out, but let’s face it; they’re boring. Just how many of us can afford to put in our own putting surfaces to get the real feel for putting, and have enough acreage to hit even the short irons?
So what is the solution?
Here is the best solution we have ever come up with. It’s not perfect, and it won’t work for you every day. But more often than not it will work.
I’m going to qualify my recommendation with big obstacle. OTHER PEOPLE ! What I will be talking about it public lands. It can be hard to find areas of public land to practice on because we needs lots of space, even when hitting a wedge, and when the weather is nice it’s very likely that people and their children will be outside using the same places, and we can not hit golf balls if there is anyone around that might get injured. It is YOUR responsibility to discover the best days and times to be using these spaces, and if someone (especially children) show up, then pack your gear of leave.
We have selected four (4) different locations that are suitable for practice. Sometimes we will need to try all four (4) before we can find one with no one to interfere with us.
My favorite practice area is a local church that has an outdoor volleyball pit. This is perfect. I have enough room that I can hit full 7 irons if I want into the sand. The balls are always easy to find and pick up with my shag bag. It’s just like playing on the course. I hit a lot more wedges and 9 irons than I do 8s or 7s, but I have the option of any of the shorter clubs. If I want to work on my hybrids for fairway woods, I have taped over wiffle balls that I can hit too.
My second place a small, secluded public park that also has a volleyball sand pit. This particular spot has a few more trees than I like, and I am limited to 9s and wedges. I can’t hit wiffle balls very effectively because of the space limitations, and they do not keep the grass manicured as well as the church property does.
My third place is an elementary school with a baseball diamond. This hard surface without grass is going to let the balls go where ever they want rather than just sticking like on a green. Much more limited on the times that it can be used; primarily only after school or on weekends. Surprisingly they also do not keep the grass trimmed short enough to suit me.
The forth spot is also a City park. It does not have anywhere that I can really let it rip and land in a designated soft area, but there are a number of trees and other targets that I can hit from spot to spot. Rather than using the shag bag I’m limited to 3-6 balls because I don’t want to spend the whole practice session looking for balls. Looking for balls is NOT a function of golf that I need to practice.
Sometimes I have to go to all four (4) area before I can get in some practice, but I eventually get it done.
These options pertain to the region where we live. If you are fortunate enough to belong to a country club that is near to hour house, or if you live in parts of the country where there are several more ideal areas, then great. But otherwise think about some of the suggestions I have given for practice.