Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Perfect Practice??

We've been blessed with a generally mild winter here in the North-East: many days with temps over 50 degrees, with the occasional excursion into the 60's.

That's posed a small problem, because our practice range won't open until mid-April. In the usual winter, I don't start playing until the range opens, but this year I've been anxious to play while blocked from my usual practice routines.

That, however, has re-introduced me to the only option I had when I played and lived in semi-rural Ohio: a shag-bag and an open field. And I'm reminded that there is a strong correlation with the fact that Ohio was the last place where my handicap (however briefly) got down to 7.

Now that I've been exposed to it again, I would maintain that a shag-bag affords the very best form of practice. First, it's much more solitary; I tend to take more time and thought, and I don't have to deal with the various rhythms and frustrations coming from those around me.

But much more important is that, once you've hit out your 60-70 balls, you then have to pick them up. Even if I've hit them well, I've hit everything from my wedge to my 5-iron, so balls are scattered all over. The usual way to pick them up is to walk out with my wedge and hit every ball back toward the bag, which means that I hit every imaginable type of full and partial shot, from every imaginable type of lie. Even better, without a scorecard in my pocket (and the fear and pressure that brings) it becomes a simple game of "See the target... Hit the target."

I even take a hint from John Daly and hit some shots one-handed: both right and left handed. I think Daly's right; at the least I'm building golfing muscle, and training each arm in it's individual task just has to be beneficial. The fact that I can now hit a one-handed wedge 50 yards and on-line (when at one time I couldn't make contact) just has to be good... doesn't it?

As I do all that, whether each shot is successful or not, my brain has at least a hundred chances to observe cause-and-effect and to work out the feel of producing every imaginable type of ball flight. And, of course, I've talked often in this blog and on the podcast about the importance of shots inside 100 yards (it's ~80% of the game, including putts).

So, that leads me to a new resolution for this year. In the interests of time, my pre-round warm-up will continue to be at our formal practice area. But... my serious practice... that's happening in the solitude of the field.


At 2:25 PM, Blogger dave said...

Sounds like a very good plan, I purchased the balls two weeks ago not I need the bag and field.


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