The Fun of Competitive Golf Practice


Ssu Chia bunker shotImagination and fun is for pros as well as juniors.  Yet somehow that seems to get lost in the seriousness of competitive golf.

Royal Melbourne is the venue for this week’s Women’s Australian Open.  The course has hard, fast and undulating greens which provide the players with the types of challenges that they may only encounter once or twice a year.

How do players prepare to meet these challenges if they face them only infrequently, especially when one of the key coaching messages is to avoid experimenting during a tournament?

The best way to prepare is to experiment in practice away from pressure and begin that experimentation very early in your golf.

Regardless of your level of play, practice shots you think you may never encounter on the course, just in case you do one day.  These can be playing left handed shots (if you are a right-handed golfer), playing off poor lies and severe slopes, manufacturing short game shots … the list is endless.

During practice rounds at Royal Melbourne you will see players practicing different types of shots, such as putting from well off the green, playing chip and run shots with woods, and landing the ball well away from the pin and allowing the slopes of the green to bring the ball close to the pin.  Most players will have played these different shots many times in practice.

Practicing this way is actually great fun.  Countless times at golf camps I’ve watched players begin a short game competition and then watched as it progresses to the players creating more and more difficult shots, trying to outdo one another.  This is brilliant for learning variety and building imagination for shots that they might one day have to play.

Those types of competitive games can go on for hours with the fading daylight often spelling out the end of the game.

Learning to play really difficult shots is the best way to develop creativity.  If you are competing with another player – or group of players – you can learn from their attempts as well.  The more you incorporate this type of practice into your everyday practice, the more familiar and comfortable you’ll be on the course playing shots under difficult conditions.

I’ve written before about developing creativity through repetition.  If you have been doing this and adding lots of variety as well, you will already recognise the benefits of practicing this way. If you haven’t been adding variety to your practice, now is the best time to start.


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