“There isn’t enough daylight in any one day to practice all the shots you need to.”
– Ben Hogan
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?
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)
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
Greenside Shots < 30 Metres
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
Full Swing Practice - Technical Verses Targeting
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
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