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Countless ways exist to shave strokes from your scores. For example, an accurate pitch shot from 50 yards away positions you to one putt the hole, instead of two-putting or three-putting it, like you would if you hit a bad pitch shot. Most good pitches save at least one stroke, and maybe two or three, depending on the situation. Hit accurate pitch shots consistently and you'll lower your golf handicap.
Good ways to improve your pitching include taking golf lessons from a pro, watching golf matches on TV, and reading golf tips gleaned from magazines. The list also includes practicing the shot. In fact, practicing is the best way of improving any golf shot. It not only ingrains it, it also builds confidence in it, making it easier to hit the shot when necessary. One of the best ways of practicing a shot is by developing a good practice routine.
Benefits of Practice Routines
Practice routines offer big-time benefits. In addition to making the best use of your time, practice routines organize a workout session so you can get the most out of it. Practice routines also speed learning by letting you concentrate on mastering one golf skill at a time, instead of several skills simultaneously. In addition, practice routines let you focus and improve your weaknesses in an orderly fashion.
A good way to organize a practice routine is to divide it into two phases. The first phase focuses on perfecting the technical part of the shot. In this phase you break down the shot into its key physical components, like making ball first contact, and then you work on improving them individually. Once you've ingrained that shot component, you move on to another. Before long, you've perfected the shot.
The second phase takes things a step further. In this phase, you focus on improving performance rather than technique. The second phase usually incorporates a target in the practice session and simulates game conditions as much as possible. Doing drills and playing games is a good way to do this and to make practice routine fun and interesting. Below is an example of a sound practice routine.
Practice Routine: Technique Phase
Improving your putting means practicing not only your stroke, but also your pre-shot routine. During the first phase of the practice session, you could work on addressing the putt and aligning yourself to the target line. For example, place a ball on the green so you have a strait putt. Now, go through your pre-shot routine, making sure to align yourself to the target line. Then, back off for a few seconds. Now, do it again. Keep doing it until you've mastered it.
At another practice session, you might work on squaring the putterface to the target line. There are several techniques for doing that, which I've covered in my golf tips. Chose the one you feel most comfortable with and apply it. During this phase of the session, work exclusively on addressing the ball and squaring your clubface to the target line. Keep working on it until you've ingrained it.
Practice Routine: Performance Phase
Having practiced your technique, you can now switch to the performance phase of the routine. This calls for actually sinking the putt. For example, you might practice the Ladder Putting Drill or the Star Drill. For example, with the ladder drill you would practice sinking three putts in a row from two feet out. Then move to three feet out and sink three more putts in a row, then move to four feet, and so on.
You could also play a putting game, like Horse, with a friend in this phase of the session. Reminiscent of a game for basketball players, Horse involves duplicating a shot made by your opponent. If you miss, you get a letter, like "H." You keep getting letters until you finish spelling out "Horse." The first one to spell out the word loses. Playing games, like Horse, improves putting under pressure and makes practice fun and interesting.
Developing a practice routine is a great way of mastering a specific golf skill, like pitching or chipping. It's also a great way to get you to practice more. When combined with golf lessons from a local pro and golf tips from a magazine, practice is a proven way of improving your game. More importantly, it's a great way to cut strokes from your golf handicap. The more your practice, the better you get.
Jack Moorehouse is the author of the best-selling book How To Break 80 And Shoot Like The Pros. He is NOT a golf pro, rather a working man that has helped thousands of golfers from all seven continents lower their handicap immediately. Free weekly newsletter available with the latest golf tips, lessons and instructions.