Does practicing golf really improve performance?
I have had many golfers ask me the question ‘Does practicing golf really improve performance?’ over the past 30 or so years that I have been involved in the game of golf.
Like a lot of the other big questions that I’m asked about the game of golf, my answer is as usual.
However, what you may be surprised to learn is that it doesn’t depend on whether I think that practicing golf is effective for golfers, because it certainly is for almost all golfers.
Nor, does it depend on whether I think that some golfers should only ever look to try and improve their golf game simply by playing golf which is also a good thing for a small group of golfers.
The way I answer that question always comes down to the personal traits, preferences and long term aims of the golfer that’s asking me the question.
I’ll explain more about that soon because most golfers (myself being one of them) usually end up needing to do a mix of both to perform at their best.
You might want to read that bit again as it was an important point.
I know that I can personally pinpoint many periods over the years where I performed best after a sustained period of practice followed by intermittent periods of playing.
Anyway, much like the golfers who keep asking me the question ‘Does practicing golf really improve performance? I’ve had many times where I considered the question as to whether to play a game golf or spend time on the practice area practicing my skills.
It has always been the sort of question that was pretty difficult to answer on a warm sunny day, that was perfect for golf and made even tougher when the other golfer’s that I played with regularly were heading out for a game.
Which of course, meant that it was a much easier question to answer, when it wasn’t a very nice day for golf or the other guys weren’t heading out for a game.
Also a no-brainer was when the previous game (or games) I had played wasn’t too good and I felt that I needed to get things back under control on the practice area.
I’m sure most golfers can understand that one but interestingly enough, most golfers actually seem to keep on playing game after game expecting improvement – rather than taking that practice option.
I suppose that what I’m trying to say is that it’s not always a question that we can answer with logic because on the one hand, the only reason most of us play golf.
Is that (oddly enough) we like playing the game of golf.
We like the courses, hitting all the different shots, solving the problems as to which club to hit, holing that chip shot or birdie putt on occasion, the friendship and banter from the other golfers we play with, the fresh air.
I’m sure that list can go on and on for quite a while.
It’s not really about practicing golf.
It’s true – most golfers don’t play golf because of the (thrill) of practicing golf!
For most golfers, it’s all about enjoying the game and ultimately (should that be hopefully) adding up their scorecard at the end of the round to discover that they have just had their best ever score.
Which would be awesome, if it happened that easily by simply going around and around the golf course – playing as much golf as possible.
Trouble is, most golfers who have played this game for a while know that’s not usually going to happen.
Most golfers need to spend time on the practice area refining what they have, checking the basics of their actions, adjusting their pre-shot routines, working on that shot that didn’t go so well last week, and the list goes on.
Not only that but we need to take into account that most of golfers have limited time during their week to fit any golf in at all, which means to get back to answering the original question – does practicing golf really improve performance?
The answer for most golfers is, yes it will but what is the best balance for you?
To find that, ask yourself the following questions:
What level do you wish to be at long term?
A golfer whose aim is to compete at a high level is clearly going to have to spend a significant amount of time on the practice area building up the skills and stamina required to compete while under tournament conditions.
Whereas a golfer whose main aim is to get out and enjoy a few hours escape from the rest of life, spend time with their friends and partake in a beverage or two after the game is not going to be that motivated to do so.
So, what for you is the ultimate level you desire to get to?
Why do you play the game?
Is it simply to escape life and enjoy the walk, is it some deep seated quest for perfection, a desire to achieve absolute mastery of the game or do you play because your best friend, other family members or your boss does.
In other words, why are you there?
How do you learn other things?
Are you a person who needs to understand absolutely everything about what you are doing before you get it or are you a person who is happy to pick up things without really knowing why it happens?
In essence, what is your learning style?
How do you improve things?
Are you someone who is happy to stand on a practice area for hours at a time doing a practice drill for 500 balls in a row or would you rather play 36 holes of golf with nothing more than a few practice swings and a couple of warm-up putts?
Which one of those was most appealing to you?
Each golfer will of course have slightly different answers to the above questions, however, at some point in time almost every golfer aspires to attain better performance in their golf game at some point in their life.
We know through experience that practicing golf will really improve the performance of most golfers but the question can only be answered properly when you find the right balance for you and your golf game.
If you’d like a hand to figure out what’s best for you, I’d suggest checking this out.
Ian Hardie is Golfer Pacific’s Golf Professional contributor. He is Club Professional at Omanu Golf Club in Mount Maunganui. Ian’s time is split between the pro shop at the club and helping people to improve, while enjoying their golf more as a result of his golf coaching. Over the past few years, in an effort to help as many golfers as he can, Ian has been sharing his common sense golf advice with golfers around the world through his website golfhabits.com. With over 500 articles to read, it’s a great resource for any golfer looking to improve their golf game.