Practice is not play. By that, I mean it’s not playtime, where you can knock around some golf balls and call it good. It’s serious business, if you want to improve.
A few days ago, I took my grandson to the range to practice his short game and putting. This is the phase of the game were he’s losing too many strokes, and can get them back the most easily. I gave him a challenge: get a twenty-yard chip up and down, and not quit until he did it.
He had four golf balls that he hit with his 6-iron. Two of them ended up way out of one-putt range, but two gave him makable putts. He missed them both, so back to the start. Four more chips. Just get one of them up and down.
Well, this was taking longer than I thought it would. After four rounds of this exercises, with no luck, I just stood out here and tossed the ball back to him if it ended up too far away. Finally, he got one to five feet. I helped him read the putt and line it up. He missed. Back to chipping, and he was getting pretty discouraged.
About six chips later, he hit one to four feet. OK, I thought, this is it. He missed. Back to chipping. We had to be getting to the 40th chip by now, and I was wondering how long this was going to take. He was getting pretty discouraged. I stayed calm, though, and told him that if we quit, we would have walked away and learned nothing.
So here we go again. The next chip he hit was running a little too fast, but had a really nice line, and it went in. We’re done. If the up goes in and you don’t need the down, that’s OK, too. He was so happy.
But one thing he was so happy about is that he had stuck with it (with some help) and met his goal. Anyone can quit. He left the range with a feeling of achievement rather than failure. That’s serious business.
I’m a good chipper. My exercise is more demanding. I chip four balls to one hole and don’t quit until I get all of them up and down. Then I hit four balls to four different holes and don’t quit until I get all of them up and down, too. Sometimes I get both parts right away, so I start over with more difficult chips. I make myself work for success.
You won’t get good on the course until you make yourself be good in practice. That’s my habit, that’s a habit I’m teaching my grandson, and I hope this post inspires you in that regard if you’re not doing that already.