Practice hard or smart? My path to scratch.

Practice hard or smart? My path to scratch.

Reducing your strokes from the 100s to the 90s or 80s is “semi” easy. If you play golf for a while you know that the closer you get to scratch the harder it is to reduce your strokes.

I am currently playing in the 80s. Some days in the 90s and the reason is very simple. My mental game is off and I don’t play it smart. Taking too many risks and trying shots that I probably have a 10% success rate at. But you live and you learn. Although everyone knows the feeling when you actually pull off a shot, that you have a low success rate at. It feels like somebody just gave you a cold beer with a shot of “ego booster” in it. Taste’s delicious!

Besides avoiding beginner mistakes, a different approach has to be taken to climb down into the low 80s and 70s. You have to work on your tempo. Increase your ability to strike the ball cleaner more often. Feel comfortable on the tee box with the “big beast” in your hands. Get better at distance control. Start getting better around all the various shots from within 100 yards. And get those putts figured out.

A real practice strategy is needed.

Looking at different strategies it seems like an awful lot and very time-consuming. To be able to reach some of my goals I needed to rethink the way I use my time on the golf course. Going to the range and just pounding bucket after bucket is not the most efficient way of using my time. And the quick 10 putt warm up before a round, is also not going to make you a putting superstar.

I started to think about my practice routine and how many strokes each club or club category should have during a regular round of golf. A very basic and not 100% accurate calculation shows that on a 72 par course you should end up with the following numbers if you would play a scratch round:

  • Putting: ~36 times => 50% of strokes per round.
    • 2 strokes per hole => 18 holes x 2 = 36 strokes.
  • Driver & Woods:  ~14 times => 19% of strokes per round.
    • 18 tee boxes – 4 x par 3s = 14 strokes.
  • Irons & Wedges: ~22 times => 31% of strokes per round.
    • 72 holes – 36 putts – 14 drives = 22 strokes.

Now bare in mind that the above numbers are not 100% accurate. Everyone plays a little bit different and chooses clubs differently. Nevertheless, you can clearly see that the putter is a very important tool during a round of golf. And it can also be interpreted as, pounding thousands of balls with the driver each range session is not the best time spent during warm up or practice sessions.

Developing my practice schedule.

I created a Google spreadsheet and divided my days into practice sessions from Monday to Friday. My current calculation is, that I am able to spend about 7 hours per day on the golf course practicing. Those seven hours are divided into three practice blocks. Below is the whole week planned out.

Block #1 8:00 am to 10:00 am. Core & Fundamentals.

The goal is to work on the core fundamentals of the golf game. I ended up using my above calculation of 50%, 31%, and 19% to assign the right amount of time to each category. Block #1 has 10 hours available per week. 5 hours of putting (50%), 3 hours of wedges and irons, and 2 hours driver and woods.

I will, of course, look up or develop practice routines for each segment to enhance my skill in them. My TrackMan will be used for each session or when possible (feel free to take a look at why I bought a TrackMan).

The main focus with the TrackMan will be in distance and dispersion control. One of my goals for my irons and wedges is, to have all the distances in my head for my quarter, half, and full swings for each club in my bag. The TrackMan will be a huge help in this case and really increase the efficiency during my range sessions.

Block #2 10:00 am to 1:00 pm. Play 18 holes.

This will be a pretty straightforward block. I will play 18 holes and use the Arccos 360 tracking system to track the whole round. The system allows me to identify weaknesses during the round and shows my handicaps in driving, approach, chipping, sand, and putting for that specific round. That information will be used in the third practice block.

Block #3 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm. Learn from the round.

I will use the above mentioned Arccos 360 handicap values and choose the highest two to work on during the final block. The first two hours will go to the highest handicap value and the next highest will be used for the last two hours available to me for that day.


Each day after my practice session I will try to document my progress and assessment for the day on this website. Post the round data from the Arccos system and update individual club data gathered from the TrackMan.