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Old 03-05-2011, 11:57 PM   #1
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The Ultimate Practice Routine

I've had a lot of people ask me about this & I've seen quite a few threads regarding practice & lowering their handicap, so I thought I'd post this in hopes that it will help someone.

Here's the story behind it, and the disclaimer. About 8 years ago, I had a student come to me who was a 36 hdcp - best round 110, ave round 120. His goal was to shoot par that year. I've seen the threads on here about doing this, and it is possible but it is not probable. I explained to him that it would take time, money, instruction, and a lot of work with no guarantee that it could/would be done. He was 28, not athletic at all, but had time, money, & desire. We spent 3 months working on his swing (very over-the-top, lot's of moving parts) just to develop a consistent, somewhat solid fade. Since his goal was to score, I developed a program that is scoring based - I have tweaked it some over the years, but basically it's about the same. After I created this, I gave it to 4 tour caliber players (1 PGA Tour, 2 Nationwide, 1 NCAA All-American) and asked them to run through the program and tell me how long it took them to complete & if they would change anything. It took them between 1 1/2-2 hours to complete and they felt it was great for someone looking to lower their handicap. I gave it to my student and he came back a few days later saying he'd spent over 6 hours on the program - and hadn't completed the 2nd stage (lag putting)! I knew then, it would work. We continued to work on his game, and he practiced the routine constantly. Over the next few months he became one of the best putters & wedge players at our club, and he shot 72 in October of that year. When he shot par, he didn't carry a driver or 3 wood and played a low, fade (almost a slice). He was recognized as the most improved player in the country that year - ending the year as a 6.2 handicap. Let me tell you, for a couple months, no one could touch him in a net game - it was fun to watch, and he credits this routine for allowing him to reach his goal. He worked his a** off, and he needed more than just this routine (technique, mental game, strategy, etc), but this is easily a guideline for players instead of just beating balls. This program is currently used by at least 8 NCAA golf teams as well.

The disclaimer: 1) I don't promise you'll shoot par doing this. 2) This is a good starting point. It's designed for mid-high hdcp players. I don't have tour players do this, and if you're already a low single digit hdcp, it's probably not much use to you, but you may find it helpful to identify a weakness 3) If it seems too easy, make the reps or targets match your level of play. This is designed to help you improve the scoring areas of the game.4) Go through your pre-shot routine before shots - I want this to simulate playing golf. 5) Once you've done the program a few times, add uneven lies, different shaped shots, etc to challenge yourself. The program can be done in one session or broken up into several - you must start at the beginning & can only move to the next section when you have completed a section. You cannot move to chipping until you complete putting, etc. So a player who can't lag putt will not hit full shots for a while. If you are "stuck" on putting, take a break every 20 minutes and stretch your back, get something to drink, just do something else, you can certainly hit balls, but don't skip part of the program.

It is based on a 2 week format - do program A for 2 weeks then program B for 2 weeks, then back to A, etc.

Sorry for the long intro- I just didn't want to drop the routine down without sharing the background & what it is designed to achieve. If you have questions or anything you believe I should add, please don't hesitate to let me know!

Here is the Ultimate Practice Routine, enjoy!

Program A, First 2 weeks, in this order:

Putting:
25 in a row from 3 feet
Lag Putting
20 in a row from 20 feet stopping in a 3 foot circle
20 in a row from 30 feet stopping in a 3 foot circle
20 in a row from 45 feet stopping in a 3 foot circle

Chipping:
8 out of 10 in a 3 foot circle from 20-30 feet

Pitching:
25 in a row landing & stopping on the green from 30 yards
25 in a row landing & stopping on the green from 50 yards
25 in a row landing & stopping on the green from 70 yards

Bunkers:
10 out of 10 out of bunker
6 out of 10 stop inside the length of a flagstick

Long Bunker shot:
5 out of 10 on the green from 30-50 yards

Irons:
9-iron 6 out of 10 land & stop on green
7-iron 6 out of 10 land & stop on green
5-iron 4 out of 10 land & stop on green

Driver:
6 out of 10 land & stop in fairway (if you're on a range set 2 targets the width of a common fairway).

Program B, Second 2 Weeks:

Putting:
25 in a row from 5 feet
Lag Putting
30 in a row from 20 feet stopping in a 3 foot circle
30 in a row from 30 feet stopping in a 3 foot circle
30 in a row from 45 feet stopping in a 3 foot circle

Chipping:
7 out of 10 in a 3 foot circle from 40 feet

Pitching:
25 in a row landing & stopping on the green from 40 yards
25 in a row landing & stopping on the green from 60 yards
25 in a row landing & stopping on the green from 80 yards

Bunkers:
10 out of 10 out of bunker
7 out of 10 stop inside the length of a flagstick
7 out of 10 out of bunker from uneven/buried lies

Long Bunker shot:
6 out of 10 on the green from 30-50 yards

Irons:
pw 7 out of 10 land & stop on green
8-iron 6 out of 10 land & stop on green
6-iron 5 out of 10 land & stop on green

Driver:
7 out of 10 land & stop in fairway
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Old 03-06-2011, 12:22 AM   #2
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Re: The Ultimate Practice Routine

I'm a 4 handicap, shot a -2 70 last week for my lifetime low round (on an easy 70.1 rated course), and I'm not sure I could do program A in an entire day. The chipping and lag putting would kill me. The pitching part would take quite a while, too. I assume you just pick a flat spot and do the same lag putt over and over so maybe it wouldn't be as hideously frustrating as I think. I'm definitely not good enough to make the putting or chipping/pitching sections any harder than the minimum.

That said, I think I've got a new Saturday practice routine so thanks very much.
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Old 03-06-2011, 12:28 AM   #3
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Re: The Ultimate Practice Routine

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Originally Posted by dagolfdoc View Post
2) This is a good starting point. It's designed for mid-high hdcp players. I don't have tour players do this, and if you're already a low single digit hdcp, it's probably not much use to you, but you may find it helpful to identify a weakness
This is depressing. I went through the list and thought about which of these I could reasonably expect to accomplish if I had two hours to work on the task...

Quote:
Here is the Ultimate Practice Routine, enjoy!

Program A, First 2 weeks, in this order:

Putting:
25 in a row from 3 feet Iffy at best. Might never pass the first test
Lag Putting
20 in a row from 20 feet stopping in a 3 foot circle
20 in a row from 30 feet stopping in a 3 foot circle
20 in a row from 45 feet stopping in a 3 foot circle
All 3 are possible.

Chipping:
8 out of 10 in a 3 foot circle from 20-30 feet Pretty unlikely

Pitching:
25 in a row landing & stopping on the green from 30 yards
25 in a row landing & stopping on the green from 50 yards
25 in a row landing & stopping on the green from 70 yards
Probably doable, but not easy.

Bunkers:
10 out of 10 out of bunker
6 out of 10 stop inside the length of a flagstick
1st is easy, 2nd extremely unlikely

Long Bunker shot:
5 out of 10 on the green from 30-50 yards
Hard but doable

Irons:
9-iron 6 out of 10 land & stop on green
7-iron 6 out of 10 land & stop on green
5-iron 4 out of 10 land & stop on green
All of these are quite manageable. Short hitters ftw

Driver:
6 out of 10 land & stop in fairway (if you're on a range set 2 targets the width of a common fairway).
Doable
Skipped plan B to keep it short, and it would probably take me a month to get past the first one, 25 straight 5 foot putts.

Thanks for the routine, it would be interesting to try it.
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Old 03-06-2011, 01:27 AM   #4
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Re: The Ultimate Practice Routine

Sorry if it came off as too difficult - hopefully once you get out & try it, you'll find it's not as bad as you think. However, it does expose weaknesses - if you can't knock out the 25 3-footers, getting to scratch is going to be tough. It is scoring based, and if you have problems with the first couple sections, work on those for areas for a couple weeks, then you will really see your scores dropping!

From my experience using this with students, the lag putting and the wedges are the most difficult, but those are the two areas that PGA Tour players & + hdcp players do so much better than the average player. Nont only does it develop touch, but it trains your body to experience pressure, which I believe is huge - you don't want to miss the 23rd wedge from 60 yards and have to start over! So after a few weeks, when you have a 3 footer to win a match, you'll be confident and thinking "I've made a ton of these over the past month!"

Once again, I really hope I didn't discourage anyone - my goal is to boost confidence and make the game more enjoyable. Hopefully, some of you will give it a shot and see if it can help you reach your golfing goals.

Thanks for the feedback - keep me posted!
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Old 03-06-2011, 02:46 AM   #5
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Re: The Ultimate Practice Routine

Way too many repetitions, especially for an average golfer. And most have no clue that the long lag putt is by far the most difficult task.

Don't get me wrong, the concept is very sound and I've used such for 20+ years. But the sheer amount of repetition and failure is going to break most every golfer both physically and mentally.

BO
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Old 03-06-2011, 02:47 AM   #6
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Re: The Ultimate Practice Routine

I'm really looking forward to trying this. I'm probably more or less where the guy you mention was--best score 105, averaging somewhere in the 110s. (I've been playing for a little over a year and a half.) I've taken a few lessons, but they were all focused on full swings. I think I could probably get through the putting parts--even though it might take a while!--but I know the chipping and pitching are gonna kick my butt. (25 in a row on the green from 70 yards? I wish!) Any suggestions for websites/books/videos focusing on the short game? I could try to find an instructor for some short game-specific lessons, but that would be a pain as very few courses here (I'm in the New Orleans area) have much in the way of short-game practice facilities.
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Old 03-06-2011, 07:11 AM   #7
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Re: The Ultimate Practice Routine

Dagolfdoc, thanks for making these kind of posts, finding them quite helpful!

Sort of in the same place - playing for 7-8 months, shooting 105-110ish, have no short game developed yet, but will have lots of time in the short run to work on stuff. will give these a try but probably maybe dumbed down slightly. Program seems v hard though, pretty sure I can't do a bunch of these yet. Nice to sort of have a goal to strive for though.

Putting - The 25 from 3 feet seems like it might be frustrating but doable with concentration. The 20 in a row from 30 and 45 feet seems really hard though seems very difficult to get more than a few in a row that close to the hole from 45 feet.
Chipping - Hard for me to do right now, seems like it'll be easy eventually though
Pitching - Don't know yet, shortest distance seems not too bad though though, long one seems pretty hard
Bunkers - Easiest one, even for a beginner
Long Bunker shot: - No clue.
Irons/Driver - Dunno, seems hard if you're still learning the full swing. Also a bit hard to judge if you've hit a qualifying shot at the range. Can only hit so many long balls in a day also!
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Old 03-06-2011, 07:55 AM   #8
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Re: The Ultimate Practice Routine

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Originally Posted by ntnBO View Post
Way too many repetitions, especially for an average golfer.
Interesting. I disagree, but interesting.
Quote:
most have no clue that the long lag putt is by far the most difficult task.
That's the point. Thus the repetitions.
Quote:
I've used such for 20+ years. But the sheer amount of repetition and failure is going to break most every golfer both physically and mentally.
It obviously didn't break you. If it were easy everyone would be scratch. I do agree many will quit before the actually complete it & go back to banging balls, and trying every new "tip" from magazines/tv to gain 10 more yards, but those are the same who will never learn to pitch/chip/putt. I can guarantee if someone did this regularly they would improve.

It's designed to be difficult. I've yet to find someone who learns a sport (especially one with touch) by doing minimal repetitions.

My thought behind the design was that most mid-high hdcp players don't understand or practice the short game enough. Ask an 18 hdcp their strength and most will say "putting" or "short game" - ask them to complete this & they'll struggle. Ask a tour player what they can improve most on, & they'll say "short game" yet they can knock this out in no time.

It's not for everyone, thus the disclaimer.
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Old 03-06-2011, 08:19 AM   #9
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Re: The Ultimate Practice Routine

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Originally Posted by Pelican86 View Post
I've taken a few lessons, but they were all focused on full swings. I think I could probably get through the putting parts--even though it might take a while!--but I know the chipping and pitching are gonna kick my butt. (25 in a row on the green from 70 yards?
You nailed the problem with common instruction (imo). Most instructors only focus on the full-swing. Once you learn a solid pitching technique, you'll get that in no time! Having a solid pitching game is the benchmark behind my philosophy - if you can pitch/putt, it takes a lot of pressure off your full-swing. You can lay up or pitch out after a poor drive & still have the opportunity to save par or make bogey at worst. If you can't find a good instructor in the NOLA area, post or send me a couple videos of your pitching & I'll be happy to help you with the technique.

Quote:
Any suggestions for websites/books/videos focusing on the short game?
I like Utley's thoughts on pitching/chipping (not as much on putting), Phil's book on short game is pretty simple. I, personally, am not a fan of Pelz. Watsons book "Getting Up & Down" was a bible to me as a junior golfer. If you can find it, Paul Runyan's book "The Short Way to Lower Scoring" is probably as good as they come. He was the instructor that taught me the value of the short game, and he was pretty much the best short game player to ever play on tour. There are some remarkable stories about Paul & what he did around the green when he played.

I believe the better you get at the short stuff, the more you enjoy practicing it, so keep at it & you'll improve & have more fun!
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Old 03-06-2011, 08:42 AM   #10
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Re: The Ultimate Practice Routine

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Originally Posted by Peeda View Post
Dagolfdoc, thanks for making these kind of posts, finding them quite helpful!
Thanks! I'm hoping it's helpful to some!
Quote:
Sort of in the same place - playing for 7-8 months, shooting 105-110ish, have no short game developed yet, but will have lots of time in the short run to work on stuff. will give these a try but probably maybe dumbed down slightly. Program seems v hard though, pretty sure I can't do a bunch of these yet. Nice to sort of have a goal to strive for though.
This will definitely help you develop touch & feel. It is difficult, but not impossible. Do it in short stints and find the areas that need the most work. Are you taking lessons? If not, I highly recommend it. Feel free to post/send me some videos if you are interested in my take on your technique

Quote:
Putting - The 25 from 3 feet seems like it might be frustrating but doable with concentration. The 20 in a row from 30 and 45 feet seems really hard though seems very difficult to get more than a few in a row that close to the hole from 45 feet.
This is the part where you really improve! The average distance from the flag on a G.I.R. (green in regulation) on the PGA Tour is around 35 feet, yet I rarely see amateurs practice putts of that distance or longer (I see them hit 4 or 5 putts from there, but not practice). If a player can get really competent at rolling lag putts close & make a bunch of 3-5 footers, their score will drop! Not many people in the world are going to hit it off the tee like Tiger, Phil, Bubba Watson, but anyone can develop into a solid putter! Don't give up on this part - you will see big-time improvement over a short time!

Quote:
Chipping - Hard for me to do right now, seems like it'll be easy eventually though
You shouldn't have too much difficulty improving this with decent technique. If you need some advice on the technique, let me know!

Quote:
Pitching - Don't know yet, shortest distance seems not too bad though though, long one seems pretty hard
It's pretty tough. But as I mentioned earlier, learning to pitch helps all areas of the game - it's a stroke saver, in addition to being a mini-full swing, so it helps develop your long game too!

Quote:
Long Bunker shot: - No clue.
It's a shot you're not going to have often, but I felt it should be included. If you're struggling with it, take a 9-iron, open it waaaayyy open & hit it like you would a greenside bunker shot. It will have the tendency to spin to the right (for a RH golfer), so aim a little left.

Quote:
Irons/Driver - Dunno, seems hard if you're still learning the full swing. Also a bit hard to judge if you've hit a qualifying shot at the range. Can only hit so many long balls in a day also!
True. You might notice I didn't put as much full-swing in here as short game. It's really designed to learn to score - not so much strike the ball from tee-green. When I first created this, there was only short game in it. I added the full-swing later for some students who wanted a complete practice routine. The emphasis is definitely on the short game by design. Also, this is to be done as if you were playing - if you're working on a mechanical move or trying to work on technique, you should do that aside from trying to complete this routine. I tell students there are 2 types of practice mechanical and what I call scrimmage. Mechanical is where you are working on a specific part of the swing/stroke and doing drills, repetition, trying to make that process repeatable. Scrimmage is practicing like you play golf - going through your pre-shot routine, void of mechanical thoughts, trying to hit shots to a target and switching clubs/shots on a regular basis. If you're in mechanical mode, I wouldn't advise trying to knock out the routine - it's more for when you are in the scrimmage mode.

Good luck with it - it will be tough at first, and feel free to adjust the goals to what works best for you. Find the areas that give you the most difficulty and give them the most attention!

Keep me posted on your success!
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Old 03-06-2011, 10:24 AM   #11
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Re: The Ultimate Practice Routine

Thanks for posting! Reading through this confirms why I've never been more than a 80's player. I don't work hard enough! It's good to see what it takes to get to the next level.

Oh, and how can someone say too much repetition??? Seems like completely backwards thinking to me.
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Old 03-06-2011, 11:30 AM   #12
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Re: The Ultimate Practice Routine

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Originally Posted by Clarkwt View Post
Oh, and how can someone say too much repetition??? Seems like completely backwards thinking to me.
Too much repetition in this context means the task involves x in a row where x makes the task too difficult to complete.

While I agree with the concept, I believe x is much too great in most of the tasks.

BO
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Old 03-06-2011, 12:05 PM   #13
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Re: The Ultimate Practice Routine

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Originally Posted by ntnBO View Post
While I agree with the concept, I believe x is much too great in most of the tasks.

BO
Fair enough. However, my belief is that if an 18 hdcp can't make 25 3-foot putts in a row, they are probably wasting their time beating drivers on the range. If they really want to improve, that is. As I mentioned, students can definitely adjust the goal number to whatever they want, as long as it is challenging. This was designed for students with lofty goals who were willing to work hard to achieve them. Going from 18-10 hdcp isn't going to come easy, nor is it going to come without a good short game. The University of Georgia golf team, which has produced several PGA Tour Players, numerous NCAA All-Americans, and won 2 NCAA Championships, begins each practice with each player "making their 40's" - 40 in a row from 4 feet. Personally, I think 25 is a fair number, and it has definitely proven to work.

While a very structured program isn't for everyone, the basis behind setting the number was that it increased pressure (simulating a round), and gave students a baseline of areas to practice. I see too many players beating balls, experimenting with their swing, and getting no results.

Quote:
Too much repetition in this context means the task involves x in a row where x makes the task too difficult to complete.
I feel this is relative - too difficult for what level player? I think if a player is trying to play to a low single digit, the goal numbers are pretty close. If a player is trying to play on the PGA Tour, they are way too low. If they are just wanting to go out & drink beer, forget it, don't practice, drink beer & have fun! It depends on the goal of the student, & in this case the goal is reach the highest potential as a player.

It's not perfect, but with good fundamentals, students will improve, and I've yet to find anything better or more comprehensive. But, as we say in the frequent flyer forums, YMMV (your mileage may vary).
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Old 03-06-2011, 12:15 PM   #14
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Re: The Ultimate Practice Routine

I'm confused are the lag putts and 3 footers all from the same spot or do I work in a circle around the hole to get different putts?

Same with chipping or pitching, is it just hitting the same shot many times in a row or am I supposed to use different spots of a similar distance?
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Old 03-06-2011, 12:24 PM   #15
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Re: The Ultimate Practice Routine

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Originally Posted by BadBoyBenny View Post
I'm confused are the lag putts and 3 footers all from the same spot or do I work in a circle around the hole to get different putts?

Same with chipping or pitching, is it just hitting the same shot many times in a row or am I supposed to use different spots of a similar distance?
I prefer students to vary the line a little - for several reasons - to get different breaks, and to avoid destroying the grass from standing in 1 spot for too long. If you want to hit a bunch of 3-footers from the same spot, place a towel on the ground & stand on that. You don't have to work in a circle, but that's a great way to do it. You might find 1 particular break that you have more difficulty with than others, if so, work on making 25 in a row from that angle.

Same with chipping, I usually like to begin from a pretty level, relatively stock chip, and work from there. If you can't reach the goal from there, it's useless to give yourself a downhill-ball below the feet lie. Work up to the specialty shots once you can get it from a basic, stock shot. Ultimately, you will want to work form all lies & trajectories, but in starting out, use similar lies, from a stock, level shot.

Sorry for the confusion, hope that helps!
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