When I talk to golfers about the things they believe they need to do to shoot lower scores, I usually get two answers – hit longer shots and more consistency. Today I want to focus on the mis-belief that players tend to have that more consistency will help them shoot lower scores.
To me consistency in golf means that you are able to repeat the same thing over and over again to reproduce the same results. To accomplish this, golf has developed into the only sport in which we don’t practice on the same field as that on which we play. Golfers stand on a driving range with perfectly flat lies, hit balls to targets that look nothing like what is on the course and face no consequences for their results like those experienced on the course. Golfers will work on swing positions and technique believing that if they can place the club in the perfect position over and over again they will then be able to reproduce that swing motion on call and hit great golf shots. This is nothing like the reality of playing golf.
Outside of tee shots, it is extremely rare that a shot on the golf course is from a perfectly flat lie. On the course every shot requires a slightly different set up to allow for variances in stance and differing lies. The target you must hit to is different every shot. Some require a higher ball flight while others a lower ball flight. Some shots require you to aim away from water or bunkers, or to hit the shot a little longer or shorter than a particular club usually flies.
There is a huge disconnect between REAL golf and RANGE golf. As a result golfers are fixated on swing mechanics and consistency, delivering mixed results in terms of transferring new skills to the golf course and shooting lower scores. If your goal is to shoot lower scores then your focus must be on adaptability and getting the ball in the hole faster.
In most sports a Coach is there to guide you through game like scrimmages on the actual playing field, working on developing playing skills within playing situations. These scrimmages are designed to challenge the player through variability. They are not easy and require attention to detail but performance certainly improves. Why should golf be the only sport not to practice in this manner? It is time for a change.
Make the decision to change the way you practice. Focus on developing skills that will be adaptable and practice using those skills in a variety of situations. Challenge your self to develop scoring skills and not simply swing positions. You may not look like everyone else on the range but then again you will not score like them either.