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Can practicing golf make you WORSE?

Last updated Nov 03, 2023

Can practicing golf make you WORSE?

Sometimes, practicing... Can make you WORSE at this game. I'll show you my keys for getting the most out of your practice.

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Written By: Zach Gollwitzer

Posted in: Practice Strategies

Today, I want to answer a simple question... Can practicing make you WORSE at golf?!

Have you ever experienced this odd phenomenon...

Where you stop practicing for a while, and all of a sudden, your swing feels better and you're firing lower overall scores?

Yeah, SAME.

I took 5 years off from golf after my D1 college career.

I was burnt out. After spending 4-10 hours at the golf course 6-7 days per week, I needed a break.

I've got the golf itch back now, and surprisingly, my swing feels... GREAT.

Now let's be clear—I don't play as good as I used to. I still struggle with my swing. And it certainly doesn't feel amazing every day.

But overall, knowing I don't have my "best stuff" has forced me to focus on my target rather than focusing on my swing mechanics.

All that said, we as golfers must face a reality whether we like it or not.

Practice is incredibly important.

You are CRAZY if you think you can lower your golf scores without ANY practice.

But are you benefiting from your practice? How much practice do you NEED?

How much practice is ENOUGH?

Listen, I get it.

Many of you don't have extra time during the week to practice. You might get 1-2 rounds of golf in on the weekends or after work during the week, but you definitely don't have 3 hours to bang balls at the range or chip and putt.

But you NEED to practice at least a little bit if you want to improve.

How much practice is required is a function of two things:

  1. Your scoring goals
  2. Your current skill level

Let me walk through a few examples to explain.

  1. A 12 handicap trying to become single digit handicap — you probably need to practice 1-2 days per week and play at least 1x per week to reach this goal in a year's timeframe
  2. Complete beginner trying to break 100 — while learning the swing, hit the driving range 1-3 times per week. Once you can get the ball in the air 7/10 times on the range, start playing 1x per week alongside your driving range sessions.
  3. A 5 handicap trying to become scratch — I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you're going to have to practice a LOT. You'll need 2-4 solid practice sessions per week and play 1-3 times per week. There is no alternative.

So now that we have a baseline for how much is enough, let's talk about making your practice work for you.

Bad practice makes you WORSE at golf

If you go to the driving range, putting green, chipping green, or your basement without a practice focus, forget about getting better.

Here are 5 bad practice habits that will increase your scores:

  1. Practicing when your body is physically worn out
  2. Practicing with ZERO feedback (you will need video analysis, swing aid, or a coach)
  3. Practicing too many things at once
  4. Practicing radical swing philosophies you dug up on the internet that don't actually work (if in doubt, copy the pros)
  5. Practicing with improper equipment—you don't need to spend thousands of dollars, but you do need to make sure your clubs aren't causing you to get into bad habits.

How to get BETTER, not worse

The equation is simple, but we golfers tend to overcomplicate it.

For each practice session you do, here's what I want you to focus on:

  1. Fundamentals — an alignment stick on the ground is your best friend. Always work on proper posture and alignment. No matter how good you get, you will NEVER graduate from doing this. Even the pros practice these basics every practice session.
  2. Your "focus" for the day — choose ONE thing you're going to improve. Put it on video at the beginning of your practice session as a "baseline". Spend some time practicing, then get a video of yourself at the end to measure how well you did. This will keep your feedback loop short and ensure you're actually improving.

Practice focus examples

So what do I mean by a "practice focus"?

Here are a few examples.

  1. Grip practice - keep a golf club handy while at home and whenever you pass it, pick it up and set it down 10x, working on the proper grip.
  2. Takeaway practice - go to the range, and before EVERY shot, practice the laser drill 2-3 times. After rehearsing 2-3 times, make a full swing.
  3. Weight shift practice - Maybe you're having a hard time getting your weight moving forward during the swing. Go the range, and before each shot, practice the weight shift without a club 2-3 times. Then, hit 1-2 shots, focusing on "posing" in the finish to ensure you have shifted the weight and are balancing properly. Repeat.

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About the author: Zach Gollwitzer

Zach Gollwitzer profile picture

Hey, I‘m Zach, the founder of The DIY Golfer! I created this site while playing D1 collegiate golf with a simple mission—I wanted to learn the golf swing and get better at golf myself.

Fast forward a few years, and my “journal“, The DIY Golfer, has been viewed by millions of golfers worldwide looking to do the same with their games. my mission is to make golfers more consistent in just a few hours a week through advanced practice strategies and timeless, first-principle golf instruction.