Practicing your golf game is kind of like eating your vegetables. You know it’s good for you, but it’s not very enjoyable. Just as you’ll finish a whole steak and leave half your broccoli on the plate, it’s easy to skip the driving range and head for the first tee.

Like eating only good-tasting foods with marginal nutritional value, ignoring practice in favor of all play will eventually catch up with you. You’ll fail to improve your weaknesses and bolster your strengths. You won’t develop new skills or learn the intricacies of your swing, a key to self-correcting when things go sideways.

In short, your game will stagnate. If you truly want to play better golf, then you’ve got the basic motivation to increase your practice effort. But you still need a plan to make practice palatable, to make your work worthwhile. That means:

1. Setting a long-term, big-picture goal that’s challenging but within your capabilities to achieve—shaving six shots off your handicap in six months, for instance.

2. Breaking down your big goal into smaller increments—improving by one stroke per month, in this case.

3. Identifying areas of your game most in need of improvement—perhaps more proficient short putting, or better driving accuracy.

4. Making practice more fun by using golf drills—they’ll challenge you and provide positive reinforcement during each practice session.

5. Tracking your progress to confirm that your labor is paying off—if you’re working on short putts, note your percentage inside five feet during rounds; there’s a great chance you’ll see noticeable improvement.

Once you discover the positive results of practice, you’ll be motivated to continue. In fact, you may even come to enjoy working on your game. Don’t scoff -- lots of people like vegetables, after all.