How to Practice Golf at Home and in Your Backyard
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Unfortunately, not everyone is going to be able to go down to their club to practice as much as they would like or need to. That shouldn’t necessarily ruin your game though. There are many ways you can work on your golf game at home or in your backyard. Let’s take a look at some of them.
Practice Makes Permanent!
Remember practice makes permanent only perfect practice makes perfect.
One side of the game that you can practice almost anywhere at almost any time. There are many aspects to the mental game that you can work on away from the course. Try “Golf is Not a Game of Perfect by Dr. Bob Rotella”.
Think about the courses that you play most often in the way that you currently try to play them. Are you achieving the level of success you would like? If not then you need to think about a different approach to each hole. You don’t need to change your swing mechanics, get fit or buy an expensive launch monitor like Trackman. Think about your current tendencies and what you do most often on each hole. Would a different strategy be advised? The next few times you’re on the course give your new strategy a try and you may find that you score a little better.
For loads more tips on improving this often overlooked part of your game click here.
Work on your visualization techniques, most top golfers will try to imagine the shot they are trying to hit before they attempt to hit it. The mind is a very powerful tool and you need to learn to use it to your advantage. Work on creating a sort of mini-movie in your mind for each shot that you want to hit. You can even try visualizing your own swing and how you want it to work. All of this should stand you in good stead when you get on the driving range or golf course.
Try to work on your level of self-confidence. There are many books and instructional tapes that could help you increase your level of confidence in your own ability. You are unlikely to play your best golf if you doubt yourself.
All three of these areas can lower your scores without even touching a golf club.
The easiest part of golf to practice at home or in your yard. Even if you don’t have the room or budget for a putting mat simply working on your stroke on your carpet will pay dividends when you go out to play. Try some of the following drills or pick up one or two of the training aids to help you.
Drills To Improve Your Putting
In order to get a better swing path, you could build some form of putting station using a couple of boxes on either side of the putter head. Then work on rocking your arms backward and forwards, keeping the putter inside the boxes. This should help with the consistency of your strike and so it should also help with your distance control.
Work on your distance control. Place targets at different distances and then putt to each one at random so you don’t get too accustomed to any particular length of putt.
Try to increase your accuracy by aiming for targets that are much smaller than a golf hole. On short putts, I often spend time aiming and trying to hit a tee or small coin.
Putting mats such as the PuttOut give you a better surface to putt on than your average carpet. They will also come with lines preprinted to improve your alignment. You can get more information and check availability.
PuttOut Pressure Trainer. This device is produced by the same company as the Puttout Mat and is designed to help you improve the pace of your putting.
Putting Gates. You can also purchase a selection of putting gates to accompany the PuttOut Trainer. These will help you improve the accuracy of your putting.
Putting Mirror. A putting mirror can be a great addition to your training routine. Making sure you are lined up consistently is very important when putting.
You can also claim an e-book called “The Secrets of Golf”.
If you have space and the budget you could even install a synthetic putting green in your yard and use that to practice on. If possible get the company doing the installation to provide areas where you can practice flat putts and also putts with breaks. Reading greens and starting the ball online on breaking putts is an important skill to master and one you shouldn’t ignore when practicing.
The majority of people won’t have space to practice golf indoors. Especially if using a normal golf ball, due to the amount of damage they could cause even with short shots.
Even if you are restricted to indoor practice because of a lack of a yard or poor weather. You can still do some chipping practice if you purchase some lighter balls which won’t cause any damage to your possessions. Foam or whiffle balls are ideal for indoor work.
I’ll shortly be doing a quick review on a chipping net and foam practice balls that I’ve been using during the recent lockdown. They will probably be used again during the winter. If you are looking for some scientific data to back up the swing theories then Dave Pelz’s Short Game Bible should be on your reading list.
Drills For Your Short Game
Whether indoors or outdoors the two most important points to work on in chipping are the quality of strike and distance control.
You need to work on your quality of strike because if you aren’t striking the ball consistently you will have no chance of judging distance.
The best drills for working on your strike involve placing an object 4 to 6 inches behind the ball. Ideally something soft so you don’t damage your club. This will force you to keep your weight more on your left side and encourage a ball and turf strike rather than trying to lean back to lift the shot in the air.
Once you have improved your ball striking consistency you can then think about distance control.
Unless you have a lot of space in your house, working on your distance control will probably mean working in your backyard. Place a number of targets 5 yards apart and then try to land your chip shots into those targets. Pick random targets so as not to get too attuned to any single length of shot.
Ideally, when practicing your chipping you want to be doing it from grass rather than a synthetic mat. This allows you to work on how your wedge interacts with the turf. How much you prize your lawn will determine whether you want to use a synthetic mat or not.
Don’t forget that the lawn in your own backyard is not prepared to the same standards as the greens on a golf course. What you should be focusing on when chipping in your garden is the landing point of the ball. If you can manage to control the landing point and the trajectory of the shot then you can adjust to suit any greens that you might play.
If you’re lucky enough to have a large lawn then you may be able to practice pitch shots as well as chips. You can even spend some time working on the Dave Pelz wedge system to improve your distance control.
Make It Fun
Try to make sure any practice that you do is as fun and challenging as possible. You don’t want to turn it into too much of a chore because you will lose interest and stop doing it.
Create little games where you accumulate points for certain levels of success. Then you can always attempt to beat your best score the next time you try it.
Long game practice is going to be the most difficult to do at home. Indoor practice is going to require a decent size room in order for you to make a swing without feeling like you’re going to hit the walls or ceiling. You’ll have to spend money on netting to catch the balls and also some form of mat to stand on and hit off.
The majority of people aren’t going to have space to swing a club indoors even less so to actually hit balls. If you think you might want to build a simulator then I have an article to help you decide if you have the space.
To achieve any long game practice in your backyard you are going to need the space to set up some netting and a mat. Depending upon the amount of space you have available you might have to look at a portable solution.
If you can devote some space permanently then you can build yourself something similar to the practice nets you find at many golf clubs.
If your yard doesn’t have the space for netting but you do have the space to swing a club then at the very least you could do that just to keep your muscles loose.
One of my favorite drills used to be spending a few minutes every day working on my backswing positions and using the windows of a garden shed as a mirror. Even doing something as simple as this will help your muscle memory so that it becomes second nature when you are out on the golf course.
At this point, I think it’s only fair to highlight there are some disadvantages to hitting off synthetic turf. It can give you a false sense of security with regard to the quality of your strike. I also find when I used to practice regularly at a driving range I would tend to suffer tendinitis, primarily in my elbow. I always assumed it was due to hitting off harder surfaces as I didn’t tend to get any issues at other times of the year when I wasn’t playing off synthetic turf.
One area of improvement that the vast majority of amateur golfers ignore is fitness. It doesn’t necessarily mean lifting weights or riding on a stationary bike for hours on end, however.
Improved flexibility would greatly benefit the majority of golfers. Particularly those who tend to have sedentary occupations or who have reached senior status.
There are many types of exercise you can do. Some areas that you should probably pay special attention to would be your core and hips.
Another reason to improve your fitness is it will improve your chances of being able to perform certain moves in your swing. If you improve your range of motion and strength then your golf professional will be able to get you into better swing positions during lessons.
Poor flexibility and fitness are going to be major hurdles to improving your game. They are also likely to inhibit your clubhead speed.
One part of the game the professionals pay an awful lot of attention to and amateurs probably don’t is alignment. Even the best rifle in the world will miss the target if it’s not aimed correctly and golf balls are no different.
You can work on your alignment for all types of shots indoors and out. 10 or 15 minutes a day can greatly enhance your ability to aim at the right target.
Golf Training Aids
There are thousands of different gadgets available that claim to help your game. Many will be of little use. I have covered several of the more useful ones in this guide.
Alignment sticks can prove very useful to many golfers. When I started playing they didn’t exist so I would just use a club or a garden cane.
These days you can get those nice flexible alignment sticks that do have a variety of uses.
How to Practice Golf at Home and in Your Backyard: Conclusion
Depending upon your budget and space constraints you may be limited on the types of golf practice you can perform at home or in your yard.
Given that so much of your golf score is dependent on short game and putting these will be the two areas to focus on in terms of practice time.
Both fitness and mental improvement also shouldn’t be overlooked as both can bring significant improvement to your game.