The majority of golfers practice and do not improve. The figure is about 90% of those practising do not improve. If I said to you go out for an hour or more and hit some balls, or practice your chipping, your bunker shots or your putting but you won’t be any better at the end of it, you wouldn’t bother and you would spend your valuable time more productively doing something else.
The whole point to practising, the whole reason that you do it is to improve. That’s the goal – to get better so that when you next go out on the golf course, your score gets lower. But the main reason why golfers practice and do not actually get any better is that they do not practice correctly and replicate the way they play.
Most golfers practice with a bucket full of balls, hitting one after another instantaneously. They go to the putting green and throw five balls down in the same position and play the same putt five times in a row. By go number five they are getting the ball closer to the hole or even in, but this will not improve their golf on the course. Why not? They are not replicating the conditions that they play in on the course.
When you are out on the golf course you only have one golf ball to play with. You only get one go at every shot and you need to be able to play the shot correctly on that first go, when it is required, on demand under that pressure.
To develop this skill and your ability, you need to train yourself under similar conditions that you have to perform in. When playing on the course, you putt on a green. When you practice you go to a green. You want the practice green to be a similar speed to the greens you have to play on. If the greens you are playing on have a lot of slopes, you want the green you practice on to have a lot of slopes.
But the majority of golfers overlook the fact that when they play they play with just one golf ball. They have to make decisions quickly and then apply these decisions to the shot that is required to achieve the outcome of the ball going into the hole. So you need to practice with just one ball, having just one go to get it right. Practising with five balls hitting the same putt five times does not replicate improving your play as you are not practising under the same conditions or with the same pressure as you find out on the golf course.
Practice with just one golf ball whenever possible. Create the pressure that you would experience out on the golf course – one ball, one go at the shot, can you make it? Learn to make the putt when you need to, right there and then on demand and if you learn to putt better under these conditions then your putting will improve when you are out on the golf course. Hit the putt and then walk to it. Now hit the next putt and so on until the ball goes into the hole – this is what you do out on the golf course, the length of the putt changes with every putt, as does the direction, break and speed so practice this when you practice.
A great drill to work on to improve your putting is Par 18. Take one golf ball to the putting green and throw it down anywhere. Now putt to a hole. Use your complete routine, read the green, make your decisions, practice the stroke, play the putt. Play from that position where the ball finished until the ball is in the hole. Mark the ball, read the green, make your decisions, replace the ball, practice the stroke, hit the putt. Do this until the ball is in the hole and then score how many strokes it took to complete that hole. Do this for nine different holes, or from nine different positions and lengths around the green. Your goal is to beat 18!
Practising like this will really improve your putting and you will actually see that you putt better when you are out on the golf course.