Golf’s a wealthy man’s sport. If you don’t have very deep pockets, you’ll find yourself limited to a couple good outings a month and a few trips to the range. And with your rivals out there shooting every day, how are you supposed to keep your skills polished and competitive. Practicing golf at home is integral to your continued development as a golfer.
It’s just not practical to hit the range 6 days a week and shoot 18 every weekend. Let’s cover some tried and true drills you can start practicing today to give your game that extra edge.
Practicing Putting at Home
Putting is the easiest skill to practice at home, since you don’t need a ton of space to do it, and you can practice effectively with little more than a ball and some carpeting. If your floor has some soft spots or some frayed carpeting, all the better – you can practice dodging those tough spots out on the real green.
You’ve probably seen some of the classic putting trainers, like greens, targets with ball-return, and alignment trainers. It’s your choice if you want to invest in one of these great tools. They can help simulate the experience on the course, make practicing easier, and force you to break down your technique.
But if funds are tight, there’s plenty you can do with what you’ve got lying around the house.
Practicing Golf with Your Old Phone Books
Yep, those massive paperweights you throw out every year can be re-purposed for golf practice. Set two phone books parallel to each other on the floor, just a little bit wider than the length of your putter head.
Check Your Motion
Line up your putting stance as if you were addressing the ball, pull back, and swing through. Don’t strike the phone books – they’re there to guide your shot. If you’re even slightly off of your line, you’ll hit the books. Spend 5 minutes each day simply practicing this putting motion. Jot down how many times in a row you can swing perfectly straight, and try to beat your own best streak.
Add a Ball!
Once you’ve spent some time breaking down your putting motion, you can introduce a ball into the mix. Lay down a strip of masking tape just ahead of your phone book setup, perfectly parallel with the center lane. Use as much space as your home allows – fifteen feet or more is ideal. Putt down the line as straight as you can. Mark lines or small zones at 5 feet, 8 feet, 10 feet, 12 feet, and 15 feet (or more!) and try to land your arrow-straight putt as close to the target markers as you can.
An easy game you can play with this setup is the 3-ball putting drill. Shoot the first ball for the 5ft target, the second for the 8ft target, and the third for the 10ft target. Control your distance to land the shots in the right zones in the right order. Then, try pushing the target zones back, and get control over the longer distance.
Practicing Your Golf Swing at Home
Just like your putting motion, your swing needs to stay in shape with regular practice, or else you’ll start to lose it. This ain’t like riding a bicycle, you know. The problem with practicing your swing is finding a large, safe enough space to do so without wreaking havoc. Fortunately, practicing your swing is a great backyard activity.
This guide isn’t to teach you how to swing. For that, check out our post breaking down How to Hit a Golf Ball Like a Pro. Once you have a good idea of what a proper swing looks and feels like, you can better analyze your own swing.
That’s why even the pros use mirrors and cameras to check their swing at every stage from lining up to following through the impact.
Using Self-Observation to Improve Your Game
Put yourself on camera and line up 10 swings. Do so without a ball at first, trying to only graze the top of the grass as you swing through. Check your alignment, how far you’re rotating, your club position at the top of your back swing, and your club face during your downswing. Lots to think about, right?
Figure out what adjustment you may need to make. Then comes the tricky part.
Perform 10 more swings in slow motion – half speed or slower – without any break in your movement. Observe yourself again – are you applying the adjustments you thought about in the last step?
These kinds of changes are hard to make at the driving range. 15 minutes of practice every day will drill your swing into your muscle memory. So, if you need to tweak your swing, be diligent about practicing and criticizing yourself.
Use a Weighted Club to Practice Your Swing
Always keeping your mindfully-practiced swing technique in mind, you can work on improving your power and control by drilling with a weighted golf club.
Over time, you’ll find that it’s easier to move your body and control the club head more easily with your actual clubs. With diligent practice, you’ll even add a few miles per hour to your swing speed. This can have a major impact on your distance, and can result in a cleaner impact, since there’s less time for you to break your swing.
Shoot Golf Balls Into a Net
Some players don’t like using nets because you can’t get a read on your distance or flight path.
Sometimes, however, that’s not the point.
A golf net is a great tool because it takes away all the grandeur of a straight, long shot. Instead of focusing on where you’re dropping the ball and how pretty your flight path is, you’re forced to focus on your timing, your impact, your swing speed, your launch direction, and building your muscle memory. Not exactly the sexiest skills in the world to show off, but when they’re all in place, they’ll give you that impressive long drive that you’re yearning for.
Consistency, consistency, consistency!
These are among the most common and effective methods of practicing golf at home with little (or no) added expense. As you can see, these drills are incredibly easy to set up and take up little time or space in the house. What’ll set you apart from your competition is consistent practice.
Just like a musical instrument, your golf skills will wane without regular care and attention. Even if you do have the means to hit the range every day, you’ll only be holding yourself back if you fail to maintain a well-chiseled technique. Apply these tips for only a few minutes every day, and watch your scores start to plummet.