Need help learning to practice

Need advice from the scratch guys like @Soly out there to help me get from my current HCP of 4-6ish down to <2.

Background- played as a kid but never competitively since I was too busy doing other sports (soccer, swimming etc). Didnt play more than 5 times per year from 24-30 b/c of work/living in the big city. Last few years I actually have a little time to play and have taken some lessons and actually improved a good bit. From 12-14 down to the 4-6 range where I have been stuck for 2 years. I play 1 18 hole round per week and maybe an additional 9, plus ~1-2 hours of practice time per week (normally in 30-60 minute chunks after work). I belong to a club with an ok range (downhill, downwind, mats half the time) and a great short game area (putting, chipping, up to ~100 yds, bunkers etc).

I have been tracking stats on Golfmetrics this summer to get an idea where I need to improve. I have the SG of a +3 off the tee (50% driving accuracy, 295 yard 75th percentile- yes I hit it far) so I know thats my strength. I am a 2 approach (mostly due to being good (+2) from 150-200, Im a 6 from 100-150), SG is a 14 and Putting is a 5 (but 17 from 7-21 feet). So- to summarize- I need to improve from 100-150, short game and putting 7-21 feet.

Despite this knowledge, I feel like my practice time ends up just being pounding range balls for fun and doing a lot of aimless chipping from fairway lies, and half/ 3/4 wedges. Does anyone have a routine/regimen/games they like to do on the range and practice area that has actually helped them improve? I have tried a few, but I end up just reverting to doing the same chip 10 times and being super impressed with myself.

Also, full disclosure, some of my issue is likely that I fold like a cheap tent on the course and clearly am in my own head. I am way better by myself on a Wednesday than with my brother on our boys trip. Trying to work on my fear or going low.

Sorry for the long post- hopefully someone who actually knows what they are doing has some good resources.

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I won’t have any resources for you, but I like to play games as a challenge to myself…especially with the short game. In my opinion, you have to make practice fun

A few examples:

  • Chipping – don’t just hit mindless chips, force yourself to get up and down. Hit 5 chips, you MUST get 4 out of 5 up and down to “win” that set. You have to “win” a certain # of sets before you go home
  • Putting – you have to make “x” # of 5 footers in a row or you go long range, and have to lag “x” # in a row to 2-putt range

What do you need to improve on? Proximity to hole? % of up and down? This is just going to be reps on the course IMO and probably course management – if it is an issue of firing at pins and then you short-side yourself and have to make an 8 footer for par, then you have to try to approach / think about making a “boring” par instead

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Read Practical Golf. Lots of good thoughts on how to practice.

Get Rotella’s book on golf psychology.

Read Zen Golf.

Sounds like you aim too aggressively inside of 150 yards. Play more for the middle of the green.

Everyone is different, but for me, playing more is a huge key to getting better. Try to play 2-3 rounds per week instead of just 1. Most, not all guys, that are scratch to plus play a fair amount.

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I’m no Soly, but I was stuck in the 6-8 range for about 10 years, and have gone from a 6 to a 2.5 in the last 24 months.

The three biggest things that I think have helped me are:

  • I review and make use of data from arccos after every round. It helps to know what types of shots you struggle with, but it was also enlightening to me to find patterns on particular holes I tend to struggle with. For whatever reason it’s easier for me to justify laying back off the tee once I have some numbers to prove it works.

  • I don’t practice anything other than putting nearly as much as I used to. Play more!

  • Reading as much material from the Vision 54 folks as I can get my hands on. Be A Player in particular has a bunch of drills and games you can do on the course to get over that fear of going low. With a bit of experimentation (and work) you can learn how to manage yourself on the course. In all honesty I think this stuff in particular was responsible for at least 3 shots a round.


Building on what Steve said, you probably pick really awful targets from 100-150 yards. There’s zero chance you simply “fold” under pressure when you are as good off the tee as you are.

Here’s what I’d do:

  1. Start practicing picking targets that are halfway between the pin and the middle of each green. Let’s say you’re 135 out to a front pin that’s 5 on and 6 from the left (we’ll assume a “standard” 30 wide and 30 deep green). Aim it about 5 yards left of the flag, and play the yardage at 140 at least.
  2. This helps out #1, but your speed control sounds like it’s pretty bad. Work on distance control from 25+ feet, and when you’re on the course focus on speed for anything longer than 15 feet. Your odds of making anything from farther than that is almost zero - 2 putting is the priority.
  3. To practice your short game, take 3 of your own balls to the practice area, and move around hitting different shots constantly. Block practice will kill short game touch and creativity faster than anything.

Good luck and keep us posted!


A drill I adore to work on putting touch (esp. on lag putts) is as follows:

line up a putt, any putt. either close your eyes, or don’t watch the putt after you stroke it.

hit the putt. before you look up, answer the following question out loud: “Was that putt short, pin-high, or long?”, preferably with distance, ie, “I left it 2 feet short”.

do this, all the time, until you are consistently able to match your expectations to reality. (if you think you hit a putt long, and you left it short, you’re pretty hopeless to adjust your next putt to be correct.)


To echo @holeout, google Scott fawcett speed drill. Practice that more than anything else…period. (If only I would listen to myself).

Short game practice, again agree with holeout. Variety. Practice from bad lies. A big key in short game is learning how to read the lies and use the bounce of club. Watch your pressure. Light grip = soft touch. And you can take a bigger swing with a light grip.


Love this drill, especially the specificity of “x feet short/long.” Did this last week during practice, actually.

I seem to remember this, but after Googling I can’t find it. Can you post up the one you’re referring to?

@holeout @steve I had found this:

This isn’t a drill, but it is a good video.

I can’t find it either. I think it’s only his app. I’ll dig up my message and post it when I’m at a computer.

Here is everything you need to know:

Will has some awesome practice plans and theories.

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Here’s what I message @Q-school about the speed drill.

Here’s the basics of the drill.

Find a flat area on the green.

Lay out a series of ball markers. Put one down. The next 6 inches past and the third 6 inches past that. Put the next one one foot past that and the next one one foot past that. So you have 6 inch window, a one foot window, a two foot window and a three foot window.

From the first ball marker, put a tee five feet away. Put another tee five feet father away and another tee five feet farther than that and another tee five feet farther than that. Put a final tee 30 feet from the first ball marker.

So you have tees 5, 10, 15, 20 and 30 feet from the first ball marker.

Putt from the 5 foot tee. The goal is to stop the ball in the six inch window (the first two ball markers). Just after you hit the putt say out loud yes/no depending on if you think the ball will stop within the markers. The goal is to get to the point where you know instantly if you got in the window by calling it out and doing it.

Vary the distance from 5-10 feet while trying to get the ball in the six inch window and call out correctly if you did or did not.

From 10-15 feet use the one foot window.

From 15-20 feet use the two foot window.

From 20-30 feet use the 3 foot window.

I found this surprisingly hard at first. The six inch window, even from five feet, is really small.

The point is if you can get your speed dialed in then you will be a much better putter

“Speed determines line not line determines speed.” - Ben Crenshaw


this is like a much more specific version of the drill that i proposed (and much narrower).

super fucking awesome, @Steve. i can’t wait to take this to the practice green.

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what he said. thanks!

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i am so excited to meet the two of you in Cincy. (are we playing golf on Friday? i’ll be landing at 2…)

We are playing on Friday. Are you shipping clubs ahead of time or taking them on the plane?

I think the earliest you make it to the course is 3. That will make it tight getting 18 in given the daylight. Tight but doable.

Next week, I’m going to get the schedule together for Friday.

Now that we changed the format for Saturday, we can definitely play together after the morning singles. I want to get a good game of Wolf Hammer in. I’ve played dots but not Wolf Hammer.


i’m taking my clubs on the plane with me.

i could also meet you guys for the back 9, or just do short game or a few holes or something. i also play fast and would be happy to tee off around 3, it’s not like 18 is a holy number of golf holes. any number is agreeable.

i love the way you think

I’m in in wolf hammer on Saturday

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Thanks for sharing sir. Yes - get in touch @h2obluejay, happy to keep writing and providing ideas on how to practice more effectively.

I’ll be sharing the way I’m working with a pro through the winter on Golf Insider UK over the next few months. It will be the same practice challenges I set him that I will give out to all readers. If the moderators are happy I can always share them here as well.