This Might Cheer You Up

It’s safe to say that we’re collectively going through a difficult time right now. I thought I would share with you a fun father/daughter project that can bring a little joy to your day.

A friend of mine in the golf world, Lou Stagner, created a complete lego replica of the 12th hole at Augusta National with his daughter. The reproduction took 20,000 individual lego pieces and more than 60 hours of work to create in their basement. His daughter, who is in 4th grade, wants to partner with a pro golfer to help a homeless charity with the proceeds of the sale.

Take a look at this time-lapse video to see it come to life, it’s incredible:

If you’re interested in helping Lou and his daughter spread the word, and hopefully find an eventual donor, please contact him on Twitter here. Check out some more photos below:

 

 

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source https://practical-golf.com/this-might-cheer-you-up/

A Guide for Practicing Golf at Home

A lot of us are going to be spending more time at home than ever. In an attempt to help many of you keep busy, I created a guide with various ways you can practice golf at home. I’ll focus on three main categories – putting, full shots, and wedge play. Not everyone will have the ability to work on all of these due to size constraints, but my hope is that you’ll get some good ideas with whatever methods you can practice. Also, I’ve linked to other articles I’ve written to help explain certain concepts in more detail.

Also, if you have any tried and true methods please feel free to add them in the comments section!

Putting

While all of you may not be able to do each of the practice methods I’ll outline, putting is the one thing that almost anyone can practice at home.

There are three critical putting skills:

  • Speed control
  • Green reading
  • Starting the ball on your intended line (stroke quality)

Unfortunately, you can’t practice all of them at home. For most of you, your best bet is going to be working on the quality of your stroke.

What You Can Use

When I was a teenager, I used to putt on the carpet in the hallway with a glass cup. There’s nothing wrong with going as basic as that. A fun, rather inexpensive product, called PuttOut is also a great tool if you do have an existing surface and want to give yourself more of a challenge. You can read my full review here.

practice golf at home
PuttOut is a fun tool that you can use on an existing surface in your house

Many of you already have putting mats at home. If you don’t, a premium option that I recently wrote about is the Perfect Practice Putting Mat. I just contacted the owners, and they have a strong supply at the moment still. You can purchase it directly from them on their website here – using code PRACTICAL10 will get you a 10% discount.

perfect practice mat
A few examples of how I’ve been practicing on the Perfect Practice matt

Alternatively, the SKLZ accelerator is a good choice if you want to keep your cost down.

The Distances That Make a Difference

Practicing your putting inside of 10 feet is very important. These are the distances where golfers have a decent chance of making putts.

I often bring up these stats to give people perspective on putting and its difficulty:

putting stats
Source: Mark Broadie

Using these percentages as a guideline can help benchmark your progress. There are plenty of different games you can play to keep yourself engaged and challenge yourself to build your putting skills. Here are a few you can try out:

  • Line up six balls roughly a foot apart. If you make the first putt, move on to the next one. Each time you miss, you have to start all over again. See if you can make it to the last putt. To add a challenge, you can keep going with the smaller hole, or add to the number of putts you have to make on each station (2, 3, or 4 in a row).
  • A variation of this game is to slightly change the position (moving it to the left or right) of each ball to force yourself to re-align before the next putt.
  • Pick a distance, and see how many putts you can make in a row. Have a leaderboard to keep track of your best scores from each distance.

If You’ve Got Some Room

Let’s say you do have a stretch of carpet that is longer than 10-20 feet in your house, perhaps in your basement; you could do some speed drills. While a carpet isn’t the perfect surface, it’s better than nothing!

A great way to work on your speed control is to make small windows to land the ball in. For example, if you’re as little as 10 feet away you can try to keep the ball within a 6-12 inch area (you can use golf balls or coins to mark these out). As you get further away, say to 20 feet, you can expand the window to 18-36 inches based on your skill level. Try to challenge yourself with games where you have to land a certain amount of balls within the target area before you can move backward.

Here is another example of a game you can play:

 

Practicing Into a Net

I realize not everyone has the space in their apartment or house to hit full shots into a net. But if you do, there are plenty of ways to make this practice meaningful. I’ll break this section into a few parts, depending on whether or not you have any feedback on your shots from a launch monitor. I’ll also link to articles that explore each method in further detail.

Impact Practice

Anyone who has read Practical Golf for any amount of time knows that I am a huge proponent of tracking your impact tendencies. This would be my number one recommendation for anyone who is hitting balls into a net at home, especially if they have no way of knowing how the shot turned out.

golf ball speed driver
an example of impact practice

Where you make impact on the face of the club is crucial for the quality of your golf shots. I’d strongly recommend reading these two articles to understand why it’s so essential and ideas on how to practice:

The Most Underrated Fundamental in Golf

Golf Ball Speed: The King of Distance

If you get yourself a can of Dr. Scholls Foot Spray, you can start to understand where your tendencies are, and improve them.

Tempo Practice

Another favorite practice method of mine when hitting balls into a net is working on your swing tempo. Most of the readers of this site come back to me with fantastic results when they do it.

To understand why the concept is so important, and how to practice effectively, I recommend reading my full breakdown of swing tempo here.

Low Point Control

One of the biggest challenges of practicing on synthetic turf is knowing where your club is bottoming out. A lot of times, mats can give you a false sense of confidence.

A critical skill of any ball striker is low point control. Ideally, you want your irons to make contact with the ball first, and then interact with the grass afterward on a downward trajectory. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to “hit down on it” that much; most golfers would benefit from a relatively shallow angle of attack with their irons.

This video gives a great drill with a towel that can be performed on a mat:

ADD VIDEO

Launch Monitors

Launch monitors have become a popular way to give feedback when practicing into a net. I’ve covered this topic extensively on the site, and many of you know that I use a SkyTrak launch monitor myself.

golf practice at home
The SkyTrak and PRGR launch monitors

Whether your budget is as little as $200, or in the thousands, there are plenty of ways to use these devices to practice effectively. Here are links to all of the relevant articles I’ve written on launch monitors:

How to Practice With a Launch Monitor

Guide to Home Golf Simulators

How I Practice with SkyTrak

Here are reviews of popular launch monitors:

Wedge Play

If you have a yard at your house and are willing to tear up the lawn a little bit (don’t say I didn’t warn you), there are plenty of ways to sharpen your wedge game. Since your lawn size will be a constraining factor, you will likely be working on shorter chip or pitch shots (read this article to see the difference between the two).

There are three skills you can work on, which primarily dictate success on the golf course:

  • Distance control
  • Trajectory
  • Turf interaction

I’ll give you a few ways to practice each of these in this section.

Distance Control

How well you can land the ball within your intended distance is perhaps the most essential wedge skill. If you can land the ball on the green and keep it there, with regularity, you will conquer one of the most significant challenges in golf – preventing bogeys and double bogeys. Of course, you want to save pars more often, but avoiding wedge shots that don’t make it on the green is a skill within every golfer’s reach.

So whenever you are hitting wedge shots in your yard, always have an intended target. It could be a tree, a bucket, or even a baseball cap. If you want to put pressure on, just put one of your kids out there and try and land the ball just short of them (I’m kidding). Overall, you can’t hone your distance control unless you are actively trying to land the ball within a reasonable distance around your target. Also, don’t expect perfection.

I also prefer simplicity when it comes to wedge play. Get good at controlling your distance with only one or two wedges, so you know what to expect on the course. I do 95% of my practice on these shots with my 56-degree and 60-degree wedges.

Lastly, you should mix up your practice between repetitive and random targets, which I discussed in this post recently. Here are a few examples:

  • Choose one target and hit 5-10 balls repeatedly, paying close attention to the overall proximity. Keep track of your progress and get competitive with yourself.
  • Play a game of “leapfrog.” Hit the first shot to a shorter distance, and then try and progressively land the next series of balls one step farther than the last. You can also do this in reverse order.
  • Randomly test yourself. Set up 4-5 targets around your yard at various distances and randomly cycle through them.

Trajectory

How low or high your wedge shots travel through the air is also very important for scoring. As you have noticed, a shot on a lower trajectory tends to roll out more on the green, whereas a higher-lofted shot will stop a little faster.

Without getting too complicated, there are two primary ways to control your trajectory. The first is with club selection. All things being equal, chipping with an 8-iron will get the ball started on a lower trajectory versus a sand wedge. The second way to control trajectory involves how you deliver the club. Some players are more skilled at using their hands and set up to add or decrease loft with the same club.

I believe loft control is an area of wedge play where a little experimentation can help most players. What I like to do is pick a target and try to land the ball at the same distance with a low, medium, and high trajectory. You can do this with the same club, and experiment with ball position, opening or closing the face, or altering your technique. Conversely, you could also choose different clubs to achieve those different trajectories. Going through this exercise will give you a better sense of what’s required to keep the ball a little lower or higher.

My only warning is that you don’t need to get too fancy with things. For the most part, you can hit very similar wedge trajectories and get good results on the course. Phil Mickelson flop shots aren’t required. But experimentation is a very helpful exercise to build your skills, which will make you more proficient on your “stock wedge shots.”

Turf Interaction

Another critical wedge skill is reading your lies. Not every ball will be sitting perfectly in the fairway. When your ball lands in the rough, you’ll be dealing with a spectrum of lies ranging from buried to being “fluffy” and on top of the grass. Your technique and club selection need to adjust accordingly.

Your yard might suffer a little bit, but if you are willing, you can experiment with different lies and see how the club reacts. A general rule of thumb to go by is the following:

If your ball is buried, it’s best to get a little steeper with the delivery of the club. Think of it like a plane that is taking a nosedive. Also, use a club with more loft and bounce (like your sand wedge). You want to limit the amount of time the golf club interacts with the grass because it will slow your club down and twist the face, making it harder to control distance and trajectory.

Conversely, if your ball is laying up nicely on top of the grass, you can do the opposite. Instead of the imaginary plane making a steeper descent, you can make a more shallow approach to the ball, like a gentle landing on the runway. Sometimes I like to think of it more as a putting stroke and just gently rock my torso back and forth without engaging my hands much.

This is another area of wedge play where experimentation pays off. Give yourself a variety of lies, and see how slightly altering your technique or club selection can change your results. When you’re presented with those lies on the course, you’ll have a much better understanding of how the ball will react, and how to play those shots.

Wrapping It Up

Thanks for reading, and hopefully golf can be a meaningful distraction during this challenging time. I’d love for you to contribute any fun ways you’ve managed to practice at home, so please feel free to add them in the comments section below.

The post A Guide for Practicing Golf at Home appeared first on Practical Golf.

source https://practical-golf.com/practice-golf-at-home/

This Video Will Help Lower Your Scores [DECADE Foundations]

Anyone who reads this website frequently knows that I am committed to helping golfers find ways to increase their performance on the golf course without using swing advice. The golf world has focused almost exclusively on technique. I always felt that the rest of the game was being ignored. That’s why I concentrate on topics like expectation management, strategy, practice habits, and the mental side of the game.

A fellow coach in this crusade is a guy by the name of Scott Fawcett. His DECADE system has taken the golf world by storm over the last several years in the college and professional ranks. Recently, you may have seen him appear on Chris Como’s show on the Golf Channel.

I think Scott is one of the great communicators in all of golf coaching, and I’ve learned quite a few things from him. Recently, he announced a new portion of his app called DECADE Foundations – which offers content and statistical analysis geared towards recreational players. I asked Scott if he would be willing to share one of the videos from his app (it is behind a paywall), and he agreed. I think a lot of you will get a ton of useful info from watching, and I’ve also got an exclusive discount for Practical Golf readers who are interested in signing up.

What is DECADE?

Several years ago, I wrote this article about my experience with DECADE. In short, it’s a strategic system that gives a framework on how to make decisions on the golf course. On top of that, there is a lot of psychology and practice philosophy baked into it. In the beginning, Scott mostly gave the information out through a four-hour seminar to college teams. After the extraordinary results, the NCAA banned him from giving the seminar directly to players because it was deemed an unfair competitive advantage.

decade foundations
Bryson DeChambeau was one of the early adopters of DECADE and went on to win the NCAA individual title and US Amateur in 2015

Because Scott couldn’t give the seminar to everyone, he decided to build an app. Over the past few years, he’s created many videos explaining how to make strategic decisions in various parts of the game along with mental and practice advice. Additionally, the app features a robust shot-tracking feature that allows golfers to track all of their shots and get personalized recommendations on where they need to improve. The system is used at all levels of professional golf, and amongst elite amateurs.

I’ve used a lot of fundamentals from DECADE in my own game (particularly on tee shots). This article on tee-shot dispersion gives a glimpse into the decision making process.

However, I’ve been hesitant to recommend the app to readers of Practical Golf because much of the information is a bit advanced, and geared towards “elite” golfers.

Recently, Scott decided to create content that is intended for recreational golfers, called DECADE Foundations. The goal of the simplified version of the app is to provide users with drips of content for six months to help establish foundational philosophies on strategy, the mental game, and practice techniques. Additionally, he’s added a stats portal that tracks five parameters he believes are core areas of the game holding players back from improving their scores.

The Video

I’ve had access to the Foundations app for several weeks now, and the beginning collection of videos is excellent. Scott isn’t hitting golfers with 100 videos at once, but instead carefully revealing fundamentals on different parts of golf as time goes on. The goal is that after six months you will be well versed in a framework that can help you make smarter decisions in your game (and, of course, lower your scores). Additionally, the stats entry is far less complicated for Foundations than it is for the Elite version of the app.

Scott has agreed to share the first video free of charge. I think you’ll learn a ton in the 25 minutes, and I encourage all of you to watch the entire thing. You’ll hear about:

  • Understanding shot dispersion
  • Why birdies are overrated
  • Learning the strokes gained statistic
  • Why avoiding bogeys (or worse) is the key to successful golf
  • The real secret of putting
  • How luck plays such a significant role in golf (and winning)

Here is the video:

 

Signing Up (and a discount for readers)

If you’re interested in purchasing DECADE Foundations, I’ve arranged for a $25 discount for Practical Golf readers using this link (no coupon code necessary). Instead of $99.99 for six months, you can get it for $75.

Here is a visual representation of how the content will be given to you over six months:

decade foundations

 

The post This Video Will Help Lower Your Scores [DECADE Foundations] appeared first on Practical Golf.

source https://practical-golf.com/decade-foundations/

4 Ways To Start Your Golf Season Successfully

The start of every golf season is always exciting. But I want to make sure all of you have a successful start! Golfers tend to fall into similar traps, and it can hinder their performance, but more importantly, their enjoyment of the game. Here are four ways to get yourself ready…

Get Your Expectations In Line

One of the hardest things to do after a long layoff is to keep your expectations in check. Golfers spend their offseason doing all kinds of different things. Some put their bags away and don’t think about the game or even swing a club for several months. Others are practicing at home or hitting balls at the range weekly. Lastly, some take that time to consume tons of information in the form of YouTube videos, books, or even articles on this site 🙂

Whatever the case may be, you have to throw out all expectations if you haven’t played for quite a while. Certain golfers will come out and have a great round, only to be disappointed by follow-up outings. I call those early successes “fools-gold golf.” Your game might be in shambles from the get-go. Either way, it doesn’t matter (as hard as it is to think that way).

As I stated in this article, if you have not been on a golf course playing that much, it is tough to maintain or improve your level of play from the prior season. Reading all of the golf books in the world won’t change that scenario. The best thing you can do is to go out with almost zero expectations. Understand that plenty (or all) parts of your game are going to be rusty.

Establish Your Feels

In my experience, long layoffs are most detrimental to “feel” shots in your short game. Your full swing might not be in total hibernation, but your ability to control your wedges or putting speed might be atrocious.

For most of you, I think it makes sense to spend a little more time practicing with your wedges or on the practice green. Your body and mind need to go through a calibration process of sorts.

For example, despite hitting balls all winter long in my net, I went outside this weekend for the first time to hit short wedge shots in my backyard. As usual, it took a while to start seeing and feeling what a 5, 10, or 15-yard pitch shot felt like despite seeing those numbers on my launch monitor during the winter. This part of the game requires a little more patience and time compared to your full swing for a majority of golfers.

Setting Goals (But Really Changing Habits)

When it comes to goals, most golfers usually say, “I want to drop my handicap from 12 to an 8 this season!”

Great! But what does that even entail?

Last year I read a book called Atomic Habits that changed my thinking on setting goals. The author, James Clear, has a very clever way of getting people to stop thinking about tangible results. Instead, he gives readers an alternative suggestion. To achieve whatever goals you want in any endeavor, it’s more about changing your identity and habits. The results tend to follow.

So rather than saying you want to drop your handicap several strokes, think more about what kinds of habits you can change in your game. Can you commit to making smarter strategic decisions on the golf course? Will you be more analytical about what parts of your game need help and focus more effectively during practice to fix them?

Also, give thought to what kind of golfer you want to become. Let’s say you have a temper issue on the course. Can you become the guy or gal that keeps a level head no matter what happens?

I find it’s far more productive to break your game down into smaller pieces like these rather than giving yourself blanket goals that revolve around your score. Here is an article that explores what kinds of productive habits golfers can adopt.

Enjoy Yourself

Perhaps the most important thing you should do is the simplest. Just have fun and enjoy being back on the course.

For those of us who go through winters and being stuck inside, it can damper our moods a bit. Getting outside in the sunshine is one of the great gifts golf gives us, and it would be a shame to lose sight of that while you play.

The post 4 Ways To Start Your Golf Season Successfully appeared first on Practical Golf.

source https://practical-golf.com/golf-season-start/

SuperSpeed Golf Counterweight Trainer Review: A New Addition to the Overspeed Family

Over the past few years, SuperSpeed Golf has become one of the best-selling training aids in the entire golf industry. Their Overspeed training system has been embraced by more than 700 touring professionals and thousands of amateur golfers around the world. They have also done a ton of research into how golfers can add speed to their swings.

Recently, they introduced their second product called the SuperSpeed C. The singular speed stick focuses more on hand and arm speed using a concept called counterweight training. It can be used by itself or in conjunction with their traditional set, which features three clubs that have different weights.

superspeed C review

The product description on their website reads:

Counterweight training alters the physics of your golf swing by significantly changing the balance point of the golf club and moves mass behind your hands. This allows for significantly faster release speed of the golf club which produces much faster hand and arm speed in your golf swing.

Ever since the SuperSpeed C debuted at the 2020 PGA Show, there’s been a lot of interest and questions surrounding how it works, and what makes it different from the original release. I’ll try to answer some of those questions in this review, and give you my thoughts on how it could potentially fit in for those of you who are serious about adding clubhead speed to your game.

Why Counterweights?

The idea of counterweighting golf clubs is not new. Interestingly, Jack Nicklaus played them almost his entire career. His clubmaker, Jack Wullkotte, used to add hot lead into the butt end of his shafts because Jack felt that the added weight in the handle allowed him to “stabilize his hands for steady acceleration through the ball,” according to a Golfweek article. Additionally, the club manufacturer XXIO has just announced a set of clubs that have counterweighting.

SuperSpeed Golf was first introduced to the idea by an industry colleague named John Marini. John had developed a prototype for a clip-on weight that could be attached to a club to add weight in the handle. At first, the team at SuperSpeed couldn’t seem to make it work because there was too much overall weight with their current speed training set (which has weights concentrated at the end of the shaft). After analyzing swing speed, release speed, and some other data, there were no noticeable gains with their traditional set of Men’s speed sticks.

When they started experimenting with the lightest model they had from their Ladies and Senior Set, that’s when they began to see some significant results. Adding weight in the handle with a very light weight at the end of the club showed more gains in arm and hand speed than they had usually seen in their other product. So they developed a prototype and eventually brought it to market based on those results.

superspeed c review
The SuperSpeed-C (left) features a smaller weight than the traditional set (right)

Understanding Arm and Hand Speed

SuperSpeed Golf has done a ton of research over the last few years to understand what creates speed in the golf swing, and where players lose it. To simplify things, they usually refer to this pyramid:

superspeed pyramid

Their first product targets all three of these factors. What they found, though, is that most golfers experienced more significant gains with ground mechanics and the sequencing of their swing. In other words, players who used SuperSpeed typically learned to use the ground more efficiently and turn their pelvis and torso faster. The third element, lag, which deals more with hands and arms, usually did not see as big of a jump.

The SuperSpeed C targets the hands and arms more efficiently through an extra weight in the handle, and lighter weight at the end of the shaft. For players who are not as effective with that part of their swing, training with the club can help them “feel” that speed more efficiently.

superspeed c
A closer look at the weight used at the end of the grip

If you take a few minutes to watch this video, it can help explain how golfers can generate more clubhead speed with their hands and arms to help illustrate the concept:

How They Fit Together, Or Separately

When I first heard about the SuperSpeed C release, I had a similar reaction to a lot of other people who have trained with the original product – how does it fit in?

I spoke with co-founders Kyle Shay and Mike Napoleon to get a little more clarity on that topic.

To make things simple, the traditional SuperSpeed set and the new product are designed to work separately or together. If you go to the training protocol section of the SuperSpeed site, you can find separate workouts for either product. There are also instructions on how you can add the counterweight trainer into your current workout regimen with the original set.

superspeed c review

While every golfer might experience different results based on the speed leaks in their swing, here are a few guidelines Kyle and Mike gave me:

  • Both products will address all three parts of the swing-speed pyramid
  • The traditional set will usually lead to more gains in ground mechanics and rotational sequencing
  • SuperSpeed C will focus more on creating arm and hand speed

So, in theory, they’ve created a “good, better, best” scenario. SuperSpeed C costs $100, and the traditional set is $200. The likelihood is that you’ll have some gains with the counterweight trainer, but perhaps not as much added speed as you would with their original set. If you use both of them together, you’re giving yourself the best chance at addressing all three areas of increased swing speed. As always, it’s impossible to predict how each golfer will respond because everyone’s technique and abilities are variable.

If you want to take a deep dive into the concept, you can watch this webinar that co-founder Mike Napoleon hosted recently.

My Impressions

I’ve only had a chance to train with the SuperSpeed C trainer for a few weeks, but I’ll give you some instant reactions.

First, it’s considerably lighter than the traditional set. I’ve been following the level 1 training protocol, which lasts six weeks. You can view the training by watching this video:

Also, I’ve been keeping track of my speed in each session with the help of the SC200 Plus and PRGR Launch Monitors as a cross-reference tool. Both of these launch monitors allow you to track swing speed without hitting balls, which makes them nice companions in your training.

superspeed c review
OK, I’ve got a lot of launch monitors

In the first sessions, I was topping out at about 110 mph but saw increases along the way. Several weeks later, my last session saw a peak speed of 124 mph. I’d say that has transferred about a 1-3 mph jump in driver speed so far, but it’s still early.

superspeed c review
My top speed in one of my latest sessions

I sense that the SuperSpeed C trainer is definitely helping, but perhaps not as dramatically as my training did with the original set. Eventually, I’d like to combine the two to see the multiplier effect it might provide.

One thing I have learned from training with SuperSpeed over the years is that the longer you do it, the more gains you will see, and they will stick with you longer. One question I often get is what happens if you stop using their products – will your swing speed drop? It depends on a few things. This chart from SuperSpeed is a good guideline to use:

superspeed training cycles

It’s no different than any other fitness regimen. If you start to lift weights, bike, or run, it takes a while for your body to adjust. If you quit early, then you can’t expect too much. If you’re committed and follow a smart training regimen, then you’re giving yourself a much better chance of increasing your fitness and strength for the long haul. But eventually, if you don’t use it, you will lose it.

Final Thoughts

I think SuperSpeed Golf was smart to release this product. It will allow for people who are on the fence for Overspeed training to start at a lower price level with perhaps a less intimidating program. Additionally, it allows thousands of hardcore fans around the globe to enhance their current training by focusing more on hand and arm speed.

SuperSpeed quickly sold out of the first batch of counterweight trainers when they initially released it (they are now back in stock) – so there’s a lot of interest in the marketplace for the concept. While I don’t think speed training is appropriate for every golfer, if you’re serious about adding swing speed, I don’t think there is a better product out there.

Much of the competition is cheap infomercial offerings that don’t have any proven system that guides you through the process. Remember the SuperSonic X10? Or similar products you see on TV- well I bought one, and it didn’t even work.

supersonic x10 review
My advice is to stay away from this product, or similar ones

With SuperSpeed, you can access up to two years of training protocols, and there is plenty of proof around the golf world that their product delivers on its promises (if you put the work in). I would say the main challenge is not the efficacy of the program; it is whether or not a golfer will stick with it.

You can purchase the SuperSpeed C trainer on their website here for $99. You can receive a 10% discount at checkout using code PRACTICALGOLF.

The post SuperSpeed Golf Counterweight Trainer Review: A New Addition to the Overspeed Family appeared first on Practical Golf.

source https://practical-golf.com/superspeed-c-trainer-review/

Want to Become a Better Golfer? This Is a Prerequisite

A common trap that many golfers fall into is that they’ll spend countless hours practicing and assume that alone will entitle them to lower their scores. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. As a junior golfer, I used to get frustrated after hitting hundreds of balls and not seeing any real improvement. I think all of us can relate to this in some way.

There needs to be some balance between being on a golf course and spending time working on your game. While everyone’s schedules and time commitments are different, I want to help you understand something critical about what it takes to become a better golfer.

Better Golf Requires Experience

A lot can happen in 18 holes. You can go through periods of great play, and then abruptly forget how to swing a club two holes later. The emotional “swings” that occur are part of what makes the game so unique and frustrating at the same time.

One thing that golfers lose sight of is that you need to be on the course going through all of those trials and tribulations to gain experience. Most players who progress in their game will tell you the same thing; you need to be out on a course playing. In a way, playing is the best form of practice.

Simply put, you need to be comfortable on a golf course. There are so many little elements to this game that require a certain amount of experience, and if you can’t play enough, then it’s hard to develop them.

What Is A Reasonable Balance?

I can’t possibly quantify the number of hours, or what kind of ratio you need to divide between practice and playing time. What I can tell you is that at a certain point, spending more time practicing at the expense of playing will likely yield diminishing returns. I know most of you reading this have work, family, and all other kinds of time commitments that seem to get in the way of golf. That’s part of the reason why I talk about managing expectations so much, and why golfers are usually too hard on themselves.

Many of us don’t have unlimited time to work on our games and play as much as we would like. However, if you use that time effectively, you can see improvement.

I’ll discuss three hypothetical scenarios to illustrate my point:

Scenario #1 – Practice With Little Play: If you are a golfer who can get plenty of 30-60 minute practice sessions in but can only play one or two times a month – it usually makes sense to temper your expectations. Some players are more naturally talented than others. Still, I often find that if you are not able to test your skills and learn from them often enough, it’s challenging to gain any meaningful return on your preparation. Overall, if you can’t play enough, I wouldn’t expect too much.

Scenario #2 – Practicing Instead of Playing: If you do have more time to get on the course, but are choosing to practice more instead of play – I would urge you to find more of a balance. Every time you tee it up, it’s an opportunity to learn and challenge yourself. The things you’ve been working on at the practice facility, or your backyard, need a chance to be tested out in live-action.

Scenario #3 – All Play No Practice: Some golfers don’t want to practice at all, and use all of their free time to play. I get it. While I do think you still can learn and improve by playing plenty of golf, you are likely forgoing an opportunity to get better if you aren’t working on your skills off the course. All of the clues about your game are hiding in your on-course performance. If you can take time to analyze what is happening during your rounds, and use that information to work on some of the elements of your game that are lacking, there are usually some low-hanging fruit waiting to be picked.

It’s All About Comfort Level

Speaking anecdotally, the best golf I have ever played in my life has always been when I can get on the course often. I’ve also had the opportunity to learn and be around plenty of golfers who I have seen make significant breakthroughs in their game. They also were playing enough to allow those positive changes to occur. Better golf requires a certain amount of comfort level of actually being on the golf course. That’s almost impossible to replace during practice.

If you can’t play enough golf, that’s OK – there is still an opportunity to get better at this game. I would caution you to be a little more patient with yourself, though. If you only get to play once a month, don’t use that one round as a litmus test of your game. Playing once every 30 days is not enough to get any reasonable measure of where you stand. Please try to enjoy your time outside away from the distractions of the world and not put too much pressure on yourself.

The Best Kind of Practice

Not all of you will be able to do this, but if you can practice on the course – do it!

If my course is empty on the weekdays, I’ll often go out for 2-4 holes. On each hole, I’ll try to hit several tee shots and approach shots. I’ll also throw a few balls down around the greens and hit wedge shots from various distances. This form of practice is extremely valuable, and if you can find small time windows to do this on a course without disturbing other players, I highly recommend doing it.

Wrapping It Up

Let’s say you have an opportunity to play once a week. I think that’s a much more reasonable opportunity to test what you’ve been working on in your practice sessions and strike a balance between playing and preparing. Indeed, there’s no right answer for every golfer. But the two main points I would like to get across are:

  • You can only capitalize on your practice if you play enough
  • A large part of golf improvement is comfort level on a golf course

Keep this in mind as you enter a new golf season. It’s impossible to find the perfect balance, but using some of these guidelines can help you make adjustments on how you spend your time and have healthier expectations for your game.

The post Want to Become a Better Golfer? This Is a Prerequisite appeared first on Practical Golf.

source https://practical-golf.com/better-golf/

Perfect Practice Putting Mat Review: The New Sensation

Putting practice is one part of golf that almost every player can do at home. As such, there are TONS of putting mats and training aids available now. So much so, that it’s hard to sort out what’s worth your money and what isn’t. Over the past year, a new product called the Perfect Practice Putting Mat has risen above the noise and taken social media by storm.

After meeting with the co-owners of the product at the PGA Show recently, I discovered a cool story of entrepreneurship. A couple of guys were sick of the poor quality of putting mats on Amazon, so they set out to design a product that addressed all their flaws. With the help of a clever social media strategy involving pro golfers, they now have one of the more coveted putting products out there.

perfect practice putting mat

After spending hours putting on the Perfect Practice mat, I’m impressed by its quality, challenge, and addictiveness. In this review, I’ll address all of its key features and help you decide whether or not it’s worth spending a little extra money on compared to other products out there.

The Buzz

It’s not too often that a putting product gets a lot of attention on social media. The only other brand that’s “blown up” recently has been PuttOut Golf.

If you’re on Instagram, you may have seen a video of the Perfect Practice Putting Mat; that’s how I first heard about the product. In the short time that it’s been out, they’ve managed to rack up some nice testimonials from professional golfers. March Leishman, Vijay Singh, Charles Howell III, Lydia Ko, Joaquin Niemann, and Jimmy Walker are a few of the names that have come out with positive testimonials.

perfect practice putting mat
A collection of their public testimonials from tour players

As you know, tour validation is one of the key selling points of just about any golf product. Most of the time, it is through endorsement deals. When I stopped by the Perfect Practice booth at the PGA Show I asked the co-founder Oren Kantor how they managed to get all of the testimonials from tour players. He told me it was just through a lot of hustle. They kept reaching out to pros to see if they’d be willing to try out the product.

Smylie Kaufman was the first player to post a video to his 200k followers, and they managed to keep getting it in the hands of other players. Oren said all of the messaging from tour players is unpaid and 100% authentic.

I can tell you what they’ve managed to do is extremely hard. Whatever small amount of notoriety this website has managed to garner, I continuously get offers from inventors of training products. I can’t imagine how often tour players get badgered. The fact that so many have been willing to try the product, posted videos of themselves using it, and allowed the company to use their testimonials publicly, speaks volumes.

perfect practice putting mat review

The strategy has succeeded pretty quickly. Since launching in January of 2019, they’ve sold out several times, according to co-owner Ed Mileto. Whoever gets the product, whether they are a tour pro or a regular golfer, seems to enjoy putting on it and keeps spreading the word.

My curiosity was peaked, so I just had to try it for myself.

What I Like About the Mat

There are a lot of subtle touches about the Perfect Practice Putting Mat that make it a viable at-home practice aid. I’ll summarize the main features I noticed after spending many hours putting on it.

Here’s a quick video of several putts so you can see how it functions when you make, or miss putts:

The Surface Gives a True Roll

Perhaps the most crucial part of this product is the quality of the surface they used. Compared to budget putting mats I’ve tried, the artificial turf on the Perfect Practice is a much higher quality. You can expect a faster, more true roll, which is essential when you’re working on your putting stroke.

One thing you should know is that it will take about 24 hours for the mat to flatten out. You can make that process go a little faster if you use an iron (not the golf kind).

perfect practice putting mat review

Another thing I noticed is that it works well on either a carpet or a hardwood floor. The material is quite thick and resists slipping, which makes it viable on multiple surfaces.

While I would say both surfaces will give you relatively fast speed, a hardwood surface will quicken the pace.

perfect practice putting mat review

Also, you should know that there might be subtle breaks based on where you place it. On my carpet in the basement, depending on where I put it, there would be a small break in either direction, which honestly is not such a bad thing when it comes to practice. You can probably expect to get little or no break on hardwood, but that depends on your floors (not every floor is perfectly level).

It’s Challenging and Fun

My number two observation after hours of practicing on the mat is the level of challenge it provides. The combination of the faster speed along with the option to putt to a smaller hole increase the difficulty.

Years ago, when I had the SKLZ Accelerator mat, I eventually lost interest in using it because it got monotonous. The lack of speed made it easier to sink putts over and over again continually, and ultimately, I lost interest because there was no way to make it harder.

perfect practice putting mat review

No matter what level of putter you are, I think you’ll find it is hard to make many putts in a row either on the conventional-sized hole, or the smaller one.

For example, I had my wife (not a golfer) try out 10-20 putts from the longest distance on the mat (around nine feet). She only made a couple of them. Because the surface is faster, you have a smaller margin of error on your start line.

During my sessions on the mat, I found myself going back and forth between the larger and smaller hole, depending on the distance I was putting from. For whatever reason, when I tried to stop, I kept having that “just one more putt” feeling come on – similar to an addictive game on your phone that’s hard to put down. Overall, I think that’s the product’s strongest feature; it’s engaging and fun.

The Ball Retrieval Is Nice

I’ll confess; when it comes to putting practice, I can get lazy. Despite having a nice platform set up in my basement that resembles a real green, I still invested in a small gadget that spits the ball back at me. For me, one of the best features of the Perfect Practice mat was no matter what kind of putt I hit (short, in the hole, or missed long), I could retrieve the ball within an arm’s length of where I was standing.

Some of the other premium putting mats out there do not have any ball retrieval system or any type or border. So if you’re practicing on a hardwood floor, and putt off the back end of the mat, you’ll be chasing your ball down the hallway. Or, once you’ve gone through your 3-6 balls of practice, you have to walk to the other side and pick them all up.

Other cheaper mats do feature a similar retrieval system to the Perfect Practice Mat, but they don’t function quite as well, and you’d be putting on a less realistic surface.

I think the combination of the retrieval system and the quality of the surface is what makes this product reasonably unique in the current marketplace. You’re able to get both. If you keep anywhere between 3-6 balls in the tray, you can keep putting on repeat for as long as you want without having to bend down and pick up a ball.

The Design

When you’re working on putts inside of 10 feet, you’re alignment and ability to start the ball on your intended line become even more critical.

Like some of the other premium mats out there, I think the Perfect Practice has some excellent design features. Having the distances marked, along with the various alignment lines and borders, helps give more structure to what you’re practicing.

perfect practice putting mat review

I would recommend experimenting with putting outside of the lines as well. For example, I found it even more challenging to putt across the mat to the hole on the opposite side. So if my ball were on the left side, I would aim at the smaller hole on the right, and vice versa. You’ll challenge yourself to align yourself properly without the help of the lines.

perfect practice putting mat review

Premium Appearance

Aside from the functionality, another thing the Perfect Practice Putting Mat has going for it is its appearance. How it looks may or may not be a big deal for you, but it could be for your significant other.

The combination of the finished wood on the exterior, and the grass design on the turf, make it look a lot nicer than black plastic and the deep green you’ll find on budget mats. So if the mat will be prominently displayed in your house or apartment, it will fit in a bit nicer in the room.

perfect practice putting mat review

Again, this might not be a vital feature for some people, but after the product sat in my house for a couple of weeks, I did notice it was less of an eyesore than some other products I’ve tried.

How I Would Use It

Practicing your putting inside of 10 feet is very important. These are the distances where golfers have a decent chance of making putts.

I often bring up these stats to give people perspective on putting, and its difficulty:

putting stats
Source: Mark Broadie

Using these percentages as a guideline can help benchmark your progress. There are plenty of different games you can play to keep yourself engaged and challenge yourself to build your putting skills. Here are a few you can try out:

  • Line up six balls roughly a foot apart. If you make the first putt, move on to the next one. Each time you miss, you have to start all over again. See if you can make it to the last putt. To add a challenge, you can keep going with the smaller hole, or add to the number of putts you have to make on each station (2, 3, or 4 in a row).
  • A variation of this game is to slightly change the position of each ball to force yourself to re-align before the next putt (pictured below)
  • Pick a distance on either the standard cup, or the smaller one, and see how many putts you can make in a row. Have a leaderboard to keep track of your best scores from each distance.

 

perfect practice mat
Variations you can do to challenge your alignment and stroke

Is It Worth The Price?

Like most reviews I do on premium products, the question always comes up, “Is this thing worth the money?”

In a random coincidence, one of my friends randomly sent me this text message a few days before I even got the mat.

perfect putting mat review
Let’s get straight to the point! But who’s Matt?

The Perfect Practice Putting Mat retails for $150 on their website. They’ve given me a code for Practical Golf readers, so you can get 10% off using code PRACTICAL10 at checkout to help a little with the cost.

But $135 or $150 for a putting mat isn’t exactly cheap. There are plenty of products on Amazon for $40 – $70 that have similar features. Those mats were the inspiration for this product, and I believe that they made a better version.

While I can’t account for all of your budgets, I think if you invest the extra money, you’ll get a better overall experience. My hunch is you’ll get to practice more effectively, but more importantly, you’ll stay more engaged and use it longer. If your goal is to improve your putting at home, investing a bit more could be worth it. That’s not to say the budget mats are entirely worthless, though; this is just a better mousetrap.

Also, there are some other considerations from other premium mats. There are a lot of mats that have a similar quality turf in the $80 – $100 region. But some don’t have a real hole or a ball-return feature. I think the primary considerations are the ball return element and having a “safety net” for your putts. If you don’t feel like walking to the other side of the mat to retrieve your balls, or if you are putting on a hard surface and don’t want to chase a golf ball down the hallway, then investing the extra money could be worth it for you.

Overall, I think the Perfect Practice mat combines many of the features missing from some of its competition into one product. You’ll pay more for them, but I suspect that is the main reason why this product has been so popular as of late.

You can purchase the Perfect Practice Putting Mat on their website here. Using code PRACTICAL10 at checkout, will you get you a 10% discount.

Also, they have just announced pre-orders for their Compact Edition here. A larger version that is about 14 feet is on the way as well.

The post Perfect Practice Putting Mat Review: The New Sensation appeared first on Practical Golf.

source https://practical-golf.com/perfect-practice-putting-mat-review/