We’ve all been there before: An hour or so before you play, there you are on the practice range hitting ball after ball exactly how you want it. It’s almost too easy!
As you walk to the first tee though … ZAP! It’s as if you were Superman and someone just gave you a drink of Kryptonite! Whatever feelings you just had the range are now gone, and you revert back to old habits, gain a few new ones and, in the most frustrating way, can’t seem to hit the shots you just did an hour ago!
It’s the infamous transition from practice to play – something even the top tour professionals in the world have issues with! The issue isn’t you, necessarily. It’s actually how you practice that may be hurting your performance the most.
Not to fear though! PGA Junior Golf Camps Director Brad Pluth knows all about this transition, and is here to help. As a 2016-17 Golf Digest Best Young Instructor and U.S. Kids Golf Master Teacher, Brad has seen thousands of players young and old, and helped them each conquer the transition from range to course individually.
The key? Don’t practice to get better at practice … practice to get better at playing golf! Try out a few of his tips below the next time you head out to work on your game!
Track progress with benchmarks…
There’s nothing better than crossing off something on your to-do list, right? Bring that attitude to the practice range with activities that are easy to track.
“Try activities that have built-in benchmarks, like 9-hole putting and 9-hole up and down contests – games that simulate play,” says Pluth. “We also encourage our golfers to practice four shots on feel, and then four shots to a target and alternate back and forth – this will help kids transition from practice to play easier.”
But don’t forget to write them down!
Now that you have an idea of what games you can try to simulate playing, it’s important to note how you did!
“Get used to marking your scores after your name through an achievement board (pictured) or note page,” says Pluth. “One example you can try: start each player off at an achievable distance, i.e. 25-50 yards for beginners. They stay at that distance until they make a four or less. Once they go under four, they move back in 25-yard increments, and move forward if they make double bogey or worse.”
Make practice fun and make it count
Your putt for par (or birdie) makes you nervous right? That’s how you should feel practicing, too! Make every shot worth something. But also remember, golf is supposed to be enjoyable!
“The best game we do is putt for a prize at the end of the day,” adds Pluth “During day two and three of our camps, we partner the athletes up and chip and putt for a camp prize. Remember, golf is a game and games should be fun!”
Brad Pluth, PGA, is a Camp Director for PGA Junior Golf Camps at Bluff Creek in Chaska, MN. You can learn more about PGA Junior Golf Camps, held at more than 90 facilities nationwide all year round, by visiting PGAJuniorGolfCamps.com or calling (888) PGA-PLAY.