Scoring. It’s what the game is all about. As the adage states, “It’s not how, it’s how many.”
Look at the Stats
During a typical golf round, nearly 70% of shots are played from within 100 yards. Based on that data, it would stand to reason that players would invest more than two thirds of their practice time perfecting those shots. Tour professionals do. But too often, I see players spending a disproportionate amount of range time hitting driver, hybrid or their favorite irons.
It’s clear that an appropriate strategy to immediately improve scoring must include a heavy dose of practice from inside 100 yards.
Work the Wedges
Here’s how to begin. Develop a practice plan that incorporates one range day where you only hit shots of 100, 75 and 50 yards. Limit your shots to 12 or 15 balls to each target so each shot is meaningful (just like if you were on the course). Move through your routine and hit each shot with purpose. As I say to my players and students, “This isn’t cardio.”
Start at the 100 yard target. Hit 10 balls with your normal club at that distance, then fire 5 more shots at that same target with one more club. For instance, if your 100-yard club is a 52 degree, hit a PW the next time to that same target. When hitting the longer club, concentrate on a slightly shorter backswing, good swing pace and full follow through. Choke up a bit to maintain good distance control.
Throughout the session, focus on good tempo. This will build consistency and repeatability in these scoring shots.
Get Comfortable with the Uncomfortable
I’ve had players tell me that those shorter shots are often an “uncomfortable distance” because it’s not a full swing and they can be played in a variety of ways. That’s correct.
The purpose of practicing shots at these distances is twofold: 1) To improve consistency and develop a better touch from those ranges (often to ensure a birdie or save a par) and 2) To increase your shot options from scoring distances.
Again, watch what the best in the world do. They will confidently pitch out after a poor drive or lay up to a distance they know they can score from. And more often than not, they do.
An Added Bonus
Here’s another benefit of working on these distances: when you’re comfortable from inside 100 yards, your confidence level improves all the way back to the tee.
So dedicate one day of your practice routine on the range hitting shots inside 100. You’ll see lower scores in no time.
Next up, we’ll look at course management strategies to continue to improve scoring.