Matt Kilgariff, PGA Director of Player Development at The Bridges at Rancho Santa Fe (Calif.) suggests breaking down the practice routine into two main areas: shots within 100 yards, and shots beyond that distance.
Are you optimizing your practice time effectively? If you are uncertain about how to approach practice sessions, please allow me to provide some guidance.
I suggest breaking down your practice routine into two main areas: shots within 100 yards, and shots beyond that distance.
For shots within 100 yards, focus on a comprehensive range of techniques: full wedges, pitch shots, chipping, bunker play and putting.
When working on shots beyond that distance, concentrate on refining your full swing, including tee shots and longer iron shots.
A strategic way to allocate time is to dedicate 70% of it to practicing shots within 100 yards and the remaining 30% to shots beyond that distance. Remarkably, around 65% of shots during a typical round occur within this shorter range.
It’s worth noting that the learning process in golf is often counterintuitive. While many aspire to perfect power and distance with their driver, the true essence lies in the ability to skillfully navigate your way around the green.
Proficiency in putting and chipping is paramount for lower scores. The emphasis on short game technique can greatly alleviate the pressures associated with the long shots.
Building a strong foundation within 100 yards can significantly reduce anxiety during long shots, knowing you can rely on your short game.
When planning your practice sessions, it’s beneficial to adhere to a structured schedule. If you have an hour available, allocate approximately 20 minutes to focusing on what your PGA Professional has advised.
The concept of “feels” is crucial. Being aware of the correct sensations in your swing is indispensable, especially since self-observation is a challenge in golf. This timeframe is also suitable for revisiting core fundamentals: ball position, alignment, grip, and posture.
For the remaining 40 minutes, shift your focus to honing shots within 100 yards. Break this portion into segments such as distance control with wedges, chipping and pitching, bunker play and putting. Employ drills and games that enable you to gauge your progress. In instances where you’re struggling to identify suitable drills, consulting with your local professional can be helpful.
Maintaining a practice journal will assist in tracking your development and apply pressure to simulate on-course scenarios, mirroring the adage “practice like you play.”
Remember, consistency is key—employ your pre-shot routine for each shot, whether in practice or during actual rounds. By ingraining routine during practice, you’ll instinctively rely on it when the pressure escalates on the course.
Consider adopting the 70/30 practice split to witness a notable improvement in your handicap in no time.
Matt Kilgariff is a PGA professional who spent much of his career working for Butch Harmon and the Harmon Family. He is currently the Director of Player Development at The Bridges at Rancho Santa Fe in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. Prior to joining The Bridges, Kilgariff was Director of Player Development at The Olympic Club in San Francisco. Matt has also been part of TaylorMade’s National Advisory Staff since 2012.