Practice games to play at home
With golf ranges remaining closed here in the UK, why not play some games at home to perfect your technique, ready for when you can play on the golf course. With a bit of imagination, you can create some challenges, using items around the garden or house to help improve your short game. As we all know its the short game that leaves us first!
Games to improve chipping Chipping 1 - Snake trail
Take a garden hose or some rope and layout on the lawn in a snake-like fashion, as beautifully demonstrated by my goldie above, who wanted to get in on the act. What is it about golden retrievers and tennis balls?. The idea is to play your chip shot to land into each coiled area, gradually hitting shots to work up the full length of the trail and back down again. You can do this with a ladder if you prefer and aim to land the ball between the rungs. This is a great game to practice focusing on where to play your shot, as well as honing your feel skills for distance control. Chipping 2 - Into the basket
You can make this as easy, or as difficult you want, to accommodate your level of skill. Take a basket and place 10-15 feet away, further if you dare! Take 3 balls and try to chip them into the basket. To make it fun place different sized baskets at different heights and distances so that you have to use you imagery skills and feel to successfully land the ball in each one. Again you could use a ladder and place baskets up the rungs - trust me this is not as easy as you might think. Chipping 3 - Chip the coin Making a good solid strike is key to hitting chip shots well. This drill will ensure you hit more consistent solid chips. Simply place a coin on the grass or matt and try to chip it as if it were a ball. A coin is very small and requires lots of precision to strike. Mentally this is a great exercise, getting you to focus on a smaller area, thereby improving your attention. You will find after doing this exercise, hitting a golf ball will appear far easier, giving you more confidence with your chip shots.
Games to improve putting Putting 1 - leap frog Find a long stretch of carpet in the house (great place is the hall), or if you have a putting matt use that. Take 3 balls start by putting a ball out to a reasonable distance in front of you (space will dictate - 15 feet if you are able). From the same starting point take another ball and putt again, this time your aim is to pass the first ball by 1 foot. Take a 3 ball and putt - this time your aim is to pass the 2nd ball by a foot. This game will give you better control when putting, now obviously your carpet is going to be a different speed to the greens on your course. However you are training your muscle memory to putt with control Putting 2 - alignment drill
Improving your alignment in your putting stroke is well worth working on and is something you can practice and monitor whilst at home.
All you need to do is set up a path to putt along and a target to aim at.
Find a flat surface. You want a spot where the ball will not break to the left or right. A flat piece of carpet works well.
Identify and mark a target somewhere in the room. It doesn’t have to be a hole because speed is mostly irrelevant for this drill. A coin works great for this.
Set up one or two alignment lines pointing at that target. Use something straight like an alignment stick (or some string will work just as well).
Hit the ball. Take your normal set up and routine and hit the ball towards the target.
Watch the ball to see if it stays on target. Use the alignment sticks and the target to identify stray shots.
Make adjustments until you are consistently striking the ball on a straight line. Most of this will likely be setup adjustments.
By practicing this over and over again, you will get used to getting yourself into a setup that produces putts that are consistently on target. You still need to read the break correctly on the course, but you can be confident that the ball is at least starting on the line you intended.
Putting 3 - Consistent contact
To improve your putting for control and distance you need to be consistently hitting the centre of your putter face.
The best way to see where on the putter face you are making contact is to use impact tape, but if you can't get any tape use foot odour spray or dry hairspray shampoo - both will give a light coating of talc to your putter face. When you hit the ball, it will make a mark on the tape/talc to show where it made contact.
Set up a target to hit the ball towards on your floor. Like the previous drill, a coin works great here.
Set up to the ball and aim at the target. Take your normal setup to putt the ball.
Hit the ball. Make a putt towards the target.
Watch to see if the ball goes towards the target. It is important to watch your putt to see if it is on target.
Look at your putter face and see where the ball made contact with the putter face. This is the whole point of the drill. You want to see if you were able to make contact with the centre of the putter face.
Make some adjustments to your setup and/or swing until you are making consistent contact in the centre or the putter face.
Mental Tip: You should also think about how centre contact feels different from off-centre hits. Over time you’ll develop a sense of feel and be able to identify off-centre hits without impact tape/talc. This can be tremendously helpful for making corrections on the course (where you can’t use impact tape).
This drill is great to combine with the Alignment Drill above.
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