Practice with a Purpose

I have worked with many different types of students and they all ask the same question: “Why do I hit the ball better at the driving range than on the course?” How many times do we hit a bad shot on the golf course, drop another ball and then hit the shot of the day. Another comment I recently  heard at one of our Florida Golf Schools was: “I wish I could take a second shot all the time. My second shots are always much better.” There is in fact a reason why we always seem to improve when we take that mulligan.

The reason is that many of us do not practice with a purpose. Every time I go to the local driving range to work on my game, I see someone hitting driver after driver trying to hit the ball farther and straighter. When I surveyed some of the customers hitting balls at the range at one of our Orlando Golf School locations, many of them said they were working on their driving swing. In golf it is important to remember that we have the same swing with every club, unless were working on our short game. We need to keep in mind that the only thing we need to change when hitting different clubs is our ball position. We need to practice how we play and have a good pre-shot routine.

It doesn’t help our game if we are focused on the course and have a great pre-shot routine but then go to the driving range and hit 100 drives without having any focus, pre-shot routine or target in mind. I discussed with many of my students how often they practice before they play and it was a split. Some of my students hit around 30 balls before they go to the course and some hit none. I recommend for the player who gets to practice before they play to start with some stretching and then work with a wedge and progress to a driver to get warmed up. The player who does not practice before they play should start with some stretching and then warm up with a few drives.

If the driver is the first club you hit at the course it should be the club you start your practice session with. The whole theory behind practicing with a purpose is to make the time we have to work on our game valuable and more similar to the time we spend on the course. A great way to work on our game at the range is to have a great pre-shot routine.

The next and last important piece to practicing with a purpose is to simulate golf on the range. Take a score card from a course that you have played and play the course while you’re practicing. Example; the first hole on your home course is a par 4, Hit your driver for your first shot, (remember have a fairway, green or target in mind for each and every shot.) On your next shot, hit one of your irons. The next hole might be a par 5: For your first shot hit your driver, next shot hit a 3 wood and then a pitch shot with your wedge.

By practicing with a purpose you will start shaving shots off your game and understand why you hit the ball better at the range than at the course.


Jeff Carreira
PGA Award Winning Teaching Professional
VP, National Golf Schools

How to Make a Successful Swing Change!

The amount of time it takes to change our golf swings is equivalent to the amount of time it takes to relax and stop resisting the change. Anytime we are fighting or resisting the “the move”, or any time we are upset about it not yet having taken effect, we are further energizing the tension and resistance to our bodies. We are actually pushing away what we are trying to attain.

Nick Faldo, the most accomplished English professional of modern times was winning his share of tournaments. However, he had not accomplished his goal winning the British Open in particular or one of the other three “Majors” in general. He went to David Ledbetter, a top five instructor in the world to develop the swing he needed to go to the next level. Faldo fought the changes at first, but his ball striking became better he finally accepted the fact “mentally” that this is the swing change that would allow him to accomplish his dream of winning “Major” championships. A year and a half of slow physical success allowed him to “Mentally” accept the changes that needed to be made and to go on to win six Major Championships including the 1987, 1990, and 1992 British Opens and the 1989, 1990, 1992 Masters.

Prior to his swing change Nick was known as “Nick Faldo” because he could not close tournaments with a win.

After Nick mentally accepted the changes to his swing from Ledbetter he became a dominate player in the 1980’s and 1990’s.

Curtis Strange stated after his swing change Nick stared a lot of guys down. He never choked. He had a way of folding is arms and looking at you as though he knew you were going to make a mistake.

Granted, a swing change can take time. I suppose it can be somewhat difficult too, but it can only be as difficult or take as much time as we tell ourselves it will take. Otherwise, with zero resistance, what we are trying to achieve would literally unfold instantaneously before our eyes.

For our swing changes, the change really happens in an instant. It is our resistance to change that ends up taking so much time.

Quote: “The game of golf is not how many good shots you hit, it’s about how few bad shots you hit’

                                                                                     Jack Nicklaus


Patrick J. Livingston, PGA
CEO, National Golf Schools
2003 & 2007 “PGA Florida Teacher of the Year”