“There isn’t enough daylight in any one day to practice all the shots you need to.”
One defining characteristic of every successful golfer from Ben Hogan to Tiger Woods is that they reached the pinnacle of their sport only after practicing long hours for many years honing their craft and developing their competitive powers.
They never got to a stage where they thought that they had practiced enough and they could cruise from that point onward.
Vince Lombardi the great football coach was once quoted as saying;
“The harder you work the harder it is to surrender.”
Practicing for long hours improves your success ratio on the golf course, where you turn ordinary golf shots into good golf shots, and good golf shots into great ones.
To practice your golf stroke correctly 100 times is helpful; to practice it 1000 times is game changing. To practice it 10,000 times is life changing.
How Much Practice Do You Need to Do?
We get asked this question by many golfers and parents of aspiring junior golfers; “how hard do you have to practice to become a professional golfer.”
It is an important question and very relevant if you have desires of becoming an elite level amateur or professional golfer. In fact elite level at anything!
The truth is that it’s not ability that stops most golfers from reaching a higher rung on the golf success ladder; it’s a lack of drive to practice more than the majority.
We continually reinforce this message with our students because without the drive to improve and the drive to master your physical and mental skills there is no hope of ever being able to compete with professional golfers.
I love this quote I found on the internet and changed the content slightly. We share it with the students at Pro Tour Golf College;
“Every time you stay out late; every time you sleep in; every time you miss a practice session; every time you don’t give 100%… you make it that much easier for another golfer to beat you.”
Golf coaches, golf teaching professionals and academia all have their own thoughts on how much their students need to practice to become very good and we’re no different at Pro Tour Golf College.
We have read much of the research on the amount of effort required to become an expert in your field and we use the findings to help us to design and drive our golf development program.
We believe that you have to practice golf like it is your job and today more than ever many junior golfers are spending a great deal more time practicing their skills to become a professional golfer.
6 Hours Per Day (Minimum)
At Pro Tour Golf College our students average 6 hours of practice each day from Monday to Friday during college time, and then they practice and play outside of those hours as well.
This 6 hour average (Total time) only accounts for the time where they sign on when they start practice and when they finish practice.
We also measure the actual total minutes of each training routine (Segment time) that they practice during those 6 hours and we expect that the total minutes of their routines when divided into 360 minutes (6 hours) to be better than 80 percent. (Segment time divided by total time)
What this means is that when they practice they are not checking their text messages or on the internet, or talking, they are going through their routines as carefully and deliberately as they can.
We believe that to make an impact on your game you have to control the external distractions, or forget about practicing because if you can’t control your ability to focus on the task at hand you will fail at professional golf.
Pro Tour Golf College Case Study - Sam Crawford
To give you an idea of how much our students practice, I have put together some tables showing the stroke volume and improvement of one of our former students Sam Crawford who attended our Tour Bridging Program and who we tracked for 7 semesters (70 weeks).
Over the 70 week period, Sam took more than 86,500 golf strokes, not including training drills and training games.
Short and Long Putts 1 Metre to 30 Metres
The first table is putts from 1 metre to 4 metres. These putts were practiced on level to extreme slopes (uphill, downhill, left to right and right to left) and putting surfaces with a speed from 10 on the stimp metre to 12.
The next is long range putting over varying degrees of slope (uphill, downhill, left to right and right to left) and the students practice from 10 metres to 30 metres to a target with a radius of 1 metre. These putts are quite challenging at the 20 plus metre distance, and the students aim to get at least 7 out of 10 into the zone.
Greenside Shots < 30 Metres
Greenside skills are all the shots played within 30 metres of the green surface. Our students practice low to high shots from tight fairway lies to deep lies in the rough to buried lies in the sand – basically every type of surface they’re likely to face on the golf course.
They also play to every type of pin position they are likely to face on the golf course so that they are being conditioned to mentally accept every type of situation they will face in tournament competition. The target around the hole is a radius of 1.5 metres so that the only shots that are scored are those that make it into this zone.
Approach Wedge Shots < 100 Metres
The next skill set is approach wedge shots from distances within 90 metres of the flag. We set up 5 specific distances each day and the target diameter is 2 metres x 2 metres. This target is the same for a 20 metre wedge stroke through to a 90 metre wedge stroke and the aim is to get a score of 7 out of 10 from each 10 ball set.
Full Swing Practice - Technical Verses Targeting
Sam has been working primarily on his swing technique for 70 weeks and so the ratio of technical strokes to targeting strokes is much higher on the technique side however this is starting to change and over the next 6 months the ratios will reverse.
His total stroke volume for full swing targeting was 4,350 strokes and his total stroke volume for technical strokes was 24,000 strokes. When Sam is practicing in technique mode he is not concerned about his ball flight as much as his ability to perform the golf stroke as close to the stroke pattern we have designed for him.
When he’s practicing his targeting skills he is focusing on controlling his ball flight trajectory and spin.
So all of this practice is fine and dandy but how is it affecting his performances on the golf course in competition?
Well, first and foremost when he competes as a student of Pro Tour Golf College every score he has in competition is accepted.
What I mean is we don’t choose the best cards and discard the rest.
We add every score to his score average which means that his responsibility is to always do his best on the golf course because every golf score will affect his score average. We have been witness to many elite golfers who only keep their best scores to protect their competitive score average and we completely disagree with this approach.
If you want to become a successful touring professional then you have to take the bad with the good so every golf score counts! When our guys have a bad day on the golf course in a tournament they know that they will have to accept that card and learn from the day.
Sam will be the first to tell you that he hates to put his high scores in because he knows it keeps his average higher than his goal.
But it teaches you an important lesson, acceptance. You have to develop the ability to be able to accept that sometimes your best is a long way from what you want. The key is to lower your high score average more than lower your low score average.
If you can keep your high score under control it makes it easier to lower your low score.
Basic Golf Course Statistics
To discard your golf score, or not complete your round, or to not play to the best of your ability is not an acceptable practice at Pro Tour Golf College. Keeping this in mind here are a few of the basic statistics from his competitive rounds over seventy weeks.
Our golf college philosophy is built around a simple idea. Your success in golf is equal to your competitive score average, and since the very best golfers in the world are brilliant from 100 yards and in, this is also our main point of focus in developing golfers for the pro tour.
In Sam’s case, he hit approximately 84,620 golf shots and the ratio of shots played inside 90 metres to outside of 90 metres is 66.4% to 33.6%. In other words he hit 56,270 golf shots within 90 metres of the hole and 28,350 outside of this distance range.
So practicing golf to become a professional golfer requires an enormous amount of self-discipline to put in the required amount of skill practice as well as rounds on the golf course. Ideally, you will practice for a minimum of 6 hours per day for a minimum of 5 days.
If you're thinking that this is a lot of practice, you would be right but by providing you with numbers you can see where all the practice goes. The point here is that if you don't measure the quantity and quality of your work when you have to put in all this effort then you might not see the results as easily as you can in the above tables.
The ratio of effort to reward is heavily on the effort side. To extract improvement from your potential requires no less than the quantities you see above and your golf teacher or coach would I'm sure agree with us.
It's not the physical work that is the challenge; it is the mental ability to stay focused and give each set of golf balls your best effort.
So do you still want to be a professional golfer? We hope so and wish you the best of luck with it.
Lawrie Montague and David Milne - Pro Tour Golf College (Perth, Australia and Jakarta Indonesia)
The Professional Golf Tour Training College for Serious Amateur and Professional Golfers
Our Email Address is firstname.lastname@example.org Enter "I Want the Special Rate for the Tour Bridging Program" in the Header and We'll Email You Back A.S.A.P with the Special Rates for a Limited Time Offer.
16/12/2012 10:16:35 pm
Great article it certainly highlights how much practice is required to make it. I would be interested to hear your thoughts on the importance of play in learning. I am talking about unstructured play, I don't mean going out and playing 9 holes. I mean "mucking around" hitting a low shot, high lob over a tree. Tiger and Phil and host of top players grew up "playing around with shots". There is no doubt structured practice plays a huge part but there is alot of scientific research on the importance of play. Scientists studying play uniformly agree that it is an absolutely essential part of the learning process.This may strike us as counterintuitive if we assume that play is a diversion from more productive processes.Unfortunately, we often approach the practice of physical skills as a form of work, there is great value in approaching practice in a more playful manner. An improvisational approach to practicing physical skills encourages movements or techniques that are novel or unusual, which has several benefits. First, novel stimulus is more likely to get the brain’s attention and excite more neural activity in more areas of the brain. In other words, the stage is set for neural growth and new connections, which is what learning is all about.
18/12/2012 11:42:38 am
Thanks Andrew for taking the time to comment on my blog. I appreciate your feedback and enjoyed your commentary on the importance of play in learning. We are all too aware of the importance of fostering a playful approach to learning and development of golf skills and in fact our junior golf classes are all about kids learning to have fun in what we call the 'golf playground,' which essentially is a series of differing golf skill challenges that help them to develop their eye-hand coordination and creative abilities. In our college our senior students love to hit all kinds of shots that test their abilities as well as playing competitive games that test their resilience. The latest research around neuro-plasticity is exciting as it teaches us that we can continue to learn and develop ourselves so we can use far more of our awesome potential, which to my way of thinking encourages us to have more fun because we can transend technique and become one with the club, ball and target.
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