How to Practice Golf: The Real Reason Why Tiger Woods Has Won So Many Golf Tournaments on the PGA Tour
Watch the PGA Tour or European Tour any week and you quickly notice that the guys playing the best that week are the ones making lots of birdies.
Most weeks the four round winning total will be 15 under or better, and to finish in the top 20 you will have to shoot under par nearly every day.
Tiger Woods is a case in point recently winning the Farmers Insurance open at Torrey Pines. Of all the statistics that make up his performances over four days the one that continually stands out to me is his ability to play the par 5’s as par fours.
Over four rounds played on the South Course and the North Course at Torrey Pines Tiger had 9 birdies, 2 eagles, 4 pars and 1 bogey out of the 16 par 5’s he played.
Now that’s a pretty impressive effort.
Now you might think that he hits lots of par fives in two shots and two putts for his birdies (or eagles) but this is simply not the case.
In-fact what Tiger Woods does better than most professional tour golfers week in and week out is hit his approach wedge shots with a high degree of control both in terms of accuracy and more importantly distance.
Quite simply, he gives himself many chances to make birdies on par 5 holes because of his exceptional ability to hit his approach wedge shots close to the hole. A number of times in the tournament he layed his approach shot up to very specific distances from the pin on par 5 holes and then proceeded to hit his wedge shots to within 6 feet of the hole.
Quite often he was hitting his wedge shot from around 100 to 110 yards from the pin and would hit his shot time and time again next to the flag.
So how does he do it? How does Tiger control his distances so well with a wedge in his hand? Well, I can’t tell you specifically how Tiger actually practices his wedge shots because he’s pretty guarded about sharing the way he goes about practicing and improving his skills, but through his actions on the golf course he lets us in on some of his secrets.
Firstly he values his short-game ability very highly and when asked during the tournament how his game was he explained that his short-game was where he wanted it to be which might suggest that he had a goal to get it to a certain standard leading into the event at Torrey Pines.
There is so much discussion about what he’s doing with his full-swing technique but the truth is that he is a lot better with his approach wedge shots and greenside skills than he is with a driver or long iron in his hand.
Tiger's putting average is also low the weeks he’s in contention in a tournament because he hits his approach shots and greenside shots to within a range of the hole where the probability of making the putt is higher.
From 5 feet to fifteen feet during the tournament he made 50 percent of the putts he faced and if you think about it; many of the shots he hit within this range were played from inside 120 yards of the hole.
The challenge that most golfers face is managing the limited amount of time they have in a week to work on the many different aspects of their game to become a more competitive golfer. And if you’re serious about lowering your golf scores then greatly improving your wedge approach shots will make a big difference to your scores.
Having a limited amount of time to practice might seem like a good reason not to work as hard on your game as you need to but with the simple practice routine I’ll share with you in this article you’ll be able to extract a lot more from your wedge game on the practice ground.
Pro Tour Golf College Student Measuring Distance to Flag
Feel to Finesse Drill
The key to becoming a great wedge player is to develop specific feels for distances within 100 yards of the hole.
At Pro Tour Golf College we teach our students a routine we call “The Feel to Finesse Drill” which is a practice routine that shows them how to develop their feel for various distances within 100 yards of the flag.
This practice routine develops their wedge capability so they can compete with confidence because they can control their wedge distances more effectively.
To start with you’ll need a couple of people to help you (your golf coach and one other) to perform this training routine properly, and an area of ground that would allow you to hit golf shots out to 100 yards. In this routine you will hit 5 sets of 10 golf shots (50 shots) with the objective of hitting them specific distances (with no targets to hit to, just open ground) that are randomly generated by your assistant.
This means that before you walk in to hit each approach wedge shot your assistant will call out a distance between say 30 yards and 100 yards (47 yards, 33 yards, 65 yards…) and your job is to hit the shot that distance. Each time you hit the shot someone waiting on the side of the practice area will walk across to spot where your golf ball hit the ground and standing on that spot they will measure the distance back to you with a laser and then call out the distance you hit it.
You will write the original distance down (See table below) and the actual distance you hit the shot (47/49 = + 2) to gauge your ability to hit random distance shots the correct distance by relying purely on the feel in your swing for the distance. Hit 50 golf shots and then evaluate your performance by measuring how many of your shots landed at the correct distance.
Then measure how many of your approach shots were within 3 feet, 6 feet, 9 feet etc. of the specific distance. The objective of this practice routine is to hit your golf shots as close as you can to the random distance called out. Remember there should be not target to hit to as you're relying just on your 'feel for distance' to achieve your goal.
Practice The Feel to Finesse Drill often and you will quickly discover that this is one of the very best practice routines to teach you how to hit accurate wedge shots close to the hole just like Tiger Woods, giving you your best chance of converting the putt and lowering your golf score average.
You don't need a lot of time to practice golf skills correctly. But you do need to design your practice to achieve highly specific outcomes if you want to develop into a competitive amateur or professional golfer.
Lawrie Montague and David Milne - Pro Tour Golf College
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