Update 2017: Your day-in, day-out scoring shots are the tee shot, the greenside chip, and the approach putt. If your swing puts the tee shot in the fairway, it will put the iron from the fairway on or near the green. Good chipping and approach putting let you close the hole in two shots, not three.
Compare two kinds of rounds – your best ones and the ones where you only flirt with your best. Even though the difference in your score might be five strokes, the difference in the way you play is like you’re different golfers.
I break 80 once or twice every year. Without fail, my irons are straight all day and my approach putting is superb. I can’t look back on any round when I hit both those shots like that in the same round and didn’t break 80.
So what do you think I practice most? Irons and approach putting! My key to lower scores, I believe, are the shots I hit well when I go low.
Of course I practice short putts, as well as chipping and pitching. Short putts and chips keep me in contention on days my irons and approach putting are having a day off. Pitching? Getting your pitch close is how a recreational golfer makes birdies on par 5s.
But the bulk of my practice is spent on the shots that turn me into a recreational scoring machine. It doesn’t make sense to do it any other way.
Slight detour to The Driver – the Evil Seducer. The more you practice with your driver, the more chances you have of ruining your swing. Just put an 8-iron swing on your driver and you’ll be fine.
Take a close look at your “career” rounds, and figure out what shots got you there. It isn’t because you played better overall. Probably one or two shot types are much better than normal, and it’s the same shot types every time.
Spend the most time practicing those shots, while not sacrificing the others completely.
My new book, The Golfing Self, is now available at www.therecreationalgolfer.com. It will change everything about the way you play.