Widening the areas of the game I’m working on, while exciting as it brings me closer to a well-rounded golf game is also proving complicated when it comes to allocating my practice time. And deciding how to schedule my time. A 2-hour block per day can only be split a certain number of ways. It also has made me think harder about how to allocate time, especially in light of typical British winter conditions! Should the focus be on weaknesses or the importance of certain parts of the game are to your score? I mentioned previously that putting accounts for 40-45% of total shots. Equally, a coaching discussion on a recent Sky Sports Golf Podcast cited the three most important areas of the game as (1) approach play, (2) driving and (3) putting.
Fundamental to practicing deliberately is that each practice session has a specific aim and focus with intended outcomes that are out of reach at the start but are closer at the end of the session. As a result I’ve delved into some literature on performance profiling; analysing the golf game based on where you stand currently and what you are targeting over the course of a set practice period. The practice timeframe can be individual to the golfer but the current ability ratings must be realistic, based on quantifiable measurements and ideally have a coaching input too.
Drawing one up like the below example published by the researcher Patrick Thomas has made me think harder about how the mechanics of golf are broken down in the context of getting around a golf course: driving, hybrids/long irons, mid-irons, short irons, chipping, sand play, putting.
My current focus is on the basic techniques of the game but there are wider areas such as pre-shot routine, flexibility, concentration, mental toughness. It is a valuable exercise putting down on paper the facets of the game as you see it, your current level and your target level. Especially as the weather moves more golfers to the practice tees and off the course. Even ask a playing partner for their input on where you stand. The outcome is a spider’s web effect with the target ahead of the current rating in each of the categories.
Talking at the outset with Johnny at Hunley Hall it became apparent that the weakest areas of a game should be identified first and foremost and brought up to the same level as the stronger ones. This approach of equalising strengths means that there are no significantly weak areas. And consequently, the challenges offered up over 18 holes can be met.
I’m planning on writing a summary of where my game lies shortly which was the result of a day spent evaluating my game. From this assessment it became apparent I have a series of swing flaws, including excess sway in the backswing and incorrect ball position. These both lead to hitting fat shots, mostly to the right. One practice technique I’ve found that works for me is at the start of a practice session I write on a ball the precise part of the swing that is being focused on. Hitting the first ball in this way seems to centre my mind on a specific area and provides a visual representation to return to should my focus and concentration falter. So my first range session following the evaluation started with:
Thanks again for all the encouragement and positivity I’ve received; it’s appreciated.
Thomas, P. R. (2001). Cognitions, Emotions and Golf Performance in Thomas (ed.) Optimising Performance in Golf (Brisbane: Australian Academic Press).