How to take it to the course
Nate Morris, Golf Digest Top 100 Club Fitter, Certified Personal Coach
As coaches, the most common complaint that we hear is that our students struggle with taking their practice game to the course. We have all done it. We get into a groove on the range and we feel great about our swing and the ball goes where we want it to most of the time. Then we get on the course and nothing goes according to plan. That is because after every swing on the range or in the bay, your brain makes small adjustments, either conscious or subconscious, to the swing. After a bunch of adjustments we can hit the ball pretty well. The problem is‚ we don’t make those adjustments on the course because no shot is the same and there is too much time between shots.
In order to take it to the course, you have to practice in game-like situations. I call it scrimmaging. To do this, you need to use a little imagination. Think about a hole that you want to play, preferably one that you struggle with. Then imagine the fairway somewhere on the range. You can use two flagsticks to mark the edges of the fairway. Set up with the club that you normally tee off with and go through your entire pre-shot routine and hit the shot. Based on where it ends up, pick a new target and a new club. Try not to hit the same shot more than two times in a row.
Here is an example of how I do it. I picture a long par 4 with a dogleg to the right. First I hit my drive and try to land it in the fairway. If I hit a good shot and it lands in the fairway, I will pick a closer target for my second shot and give myself a better lie. If I hit a bad shot, I will pick a longer target and give myself a bad lie. I might put it in a divot, or walk over and hit out of the rough. If I miss the green with the approach shot, I will hit a small pitch or chip to a target on the range. Once I am on the green, I will pick a new hole.
I will always play two or three holes like this at the end of my practice session. It allows me to see how the new ball flight might work on the course. It also helps to train your mind on things like pre-shot routine, target visualization and playing with just a hint of pressure. This also makes practice more fun and less boring.