Practice Under Pressure
By Paul Finch, Coach, International Golf Institute
When I think of practice, I used to see a basket of range balls that needed to be hit as far as possible or a 30ft putt where I could have an infinite number of attempts. However I wasn’t under pressure, something we all feel in different ways out on the golf course.
One of the biggest differences between on playing and practicing is that you only have one attempt on the course, on the range or chipping green you can have another go. Putting yourself under some pressure while practicing will help you better your scores because you will feel more prepared and this will be because you will have practiced under pressure. Here are two drills that look at practicing in such a way.
Two Ball Worst Ball:
Short Game Clubs
2 x Golf Ball ( same ball you play with in competition)
Play from 9 various positions around the chipping green (remember these positions for future use) to any flag on the green. The 9 positions should include at least 1 chip, 1 pitch, 1 lob shot, 1 bunker shot and 1 chip and run shot. Play 2 balls from each position to as close to the flag as possible. Once the worst ball has been determined, pick up the best ball and putt out, treating it as a normal round of golf. This will call for you to go through your normal pre shot routine and focus on your performance.
Example for positions around the green. Number 9 would be the bunker shot.
Record each score per hole. When you have completed all 9 holes, add up your overall score. The par is 18. You should not practice from any of the positions you have selected during a training session.
Play this game twice a week, being sure to record your scores to see your progress.
You can play on your own or even with friends, but make it fun as well as challenging.
The Pace Game
5 x Golf Balls (all the same)
7, 8 and 9 Iron
This game focuses on a player’s pace control when putting. Lay 3 clubs behind a hole to form a U Shape. Position yourself 20ft away from the hole/U shape. Hit 5 putts aiming to hole every putt. You score 10 points for every putt holed, 5 points for every putt finishing past the hole in the U and -1 point if the putt is short or long, hitting the clubs that have formed the U.
Play the game from the following positions:
20ft Straight Putt
20ft Right to Left Putt
20ft Left to Right Putt
20ft Downhill Putt
20ft Uphill Putt
Again, record your scores from each position to give you an overall score out of 50 for each of the positions. Try to better your scores each week on the putting green to hopefully improve your scores out on the course.
Having fun with these drills is key because the more you enjoy it, the more confident you will feel when faced with these shots on the course and the pressure practice will have paid off. Have a go, see how you get on and please let me know how you get on.
Article first published in NSRCC magazine Resort View, Jan/Feb 2021 issue.
Paul Finch has been a member of the British PGA for the past 10 years and has held various positions within the golf industry. He thoroughly enjoys coaching and this has been his passion throughout his career. Read more about him here!