Practice secrets from the Tour

Published:

secrets

Rory McIlroy

“My favourite club is the one I practise most when I’m on the range. My 6-iron is right there between a long and a short iron. I can hit a bunch of different shots with it and over the years it’s really served me well on the range and the course. I’ve actually become pretty accurate on approach shots from 175-200 yards because I spend so much time practising with it. I’m typically inside the top-five or close to it every year in the PGA Tour proximity to the hole stat from 175-200 yards.”

secrets

Jack Nicklaus

“All my life I’ve tried to hit practice shots with great care. I try to have a clear-cut purpose in mind on every swing. I always practise as I intend to play. And I learned long ago that there is a limit to the number of shots you can hit effectively before losing your concentration on your basic objectives. I have to believe that some of the guys who virtually live on the practice tee are there because they don’t have anything better to do with their time. And I have to believe they often weaken their games by letting their practice become pointless through sheer monotony or fatigue.”

secrets

Nick Faldo

To keep practice entertaining, Faldo would often replicate entire rounds on the range, never hitting the same club twice in a row. According to his former coach David Leadbetter, he played that game on the range at the 1996 Masters. “He was working on every shot he’d face on the course, saying things like ‘the flag is 10 paces right, five from the back’. This routine made Nick work the ball instead of hitting it dead straight. It made the course more familiar.”

secrets

Matt Kuchar

“I start with wedges and work my way through the bag, but I won’t hit every club. Play to your strengths, use the clubs and shot shapes that you’re going to use most frequently out on the course. For example, I’m not going to spend ages trying to hit a draw if I’m struggling to do it or unlikely to use it too often that week. My sessions are really geared towards trying to eliminate any clubhead rotation. If the club comes into impact open and exits closed it’s almost impossible to deliver the head perfectly square at the ball.”

secrets

Tiger Woods

“At a tournament, I don’t really spend a whole lot of time on the range, or even on the putting green or anything like that. When I get to a tournament site, I feel like my game should be ready. That’s one of the reasons why I don’t play as many weeks as a lot of these guys do, because I spend a lot of time practising at home.

I do most of my preparation at home. Once I’m at a tournament site, I’m there just to find my rhythm, tune up a little bit, and get myself ready to go play the next day.”

secrets

Henrik Stenson

“Whenever I’m on the range I always use the ‘left-arm-only’ drill with a range of clubs. I’m actually left-handed so have lots of feel in my left side. I start by hitting full shots with just my left hand on the club, then hit shots where I take the club back with my left hand to about halfway in my backswing. From there I pause and put my right hand on before completing the swing. This helps me find a good position on the way back and really turn my shoulders. From there my body and arms stay in sync through the swing, which improves striking and power.”

secrets

Jim Furyk

“If you want to hole lots of putts you have to keep the ball on line and that becomes even more important the quicker the greens are. I always start my putting sessions by using a ball with a line drawn all the way around the middle. I’ll then roll a series of putts on a flat lie to around 10 feet. The key is to make the line roll perfectly straight. If it wobbles you’re putting sidespin on the ball which means your putts won’t hold their line. I’ll work on this until the line stays straight every time.”

secrets

Phil Mickelson

"I like practising either in my yard at home where I built a facility or at some of the local clubs when I’m on the road at tournaments. I practise flying my wedges to a specific yardage three days a week. I hit over 1,500 golf balls in that time and try to land each one within a yard of the target – or hit the target. For the most part, I’m able to do that 90 per cent of the time. It’s not an accident that my wedge game is what it is, because I stand there and work on it.”

secrets

Adam Scott

“Before a round I work my way up the set. I start by hitting 10 wedges to 75 yards and 10 to 100 yards. This sharpens my distance control in the scoring zone. I’ll then hit 10 shots to 150 yards before resting for a couple of minutes. I then go to 175 yards and 210 yards, 10 shots to each. I finish the irons with 10 3-irons to 240 yards before ending the session with the woods. I hit five with the 3-wood and five with the driver.”

secrets

Billy Horschel

“I start with putting and try to lag putts to get the speed of the greens. Then I’ll hit straight putts using a chalk line as this helps me make sure my eyes and putter are matching up. Then it’s off to the range. I start with a lob wedge and hit 40-50-yard shots. Then I grab my gap wedge and hit 90-100-yard shots. After that I go 9-iron, 6-iron, 4-iron, 5-wood, 3-wood, and driver. Then I hit one or two balls with a pitching wedge to exactly 115 yards. When I’m hitting balls, I’m just trying to get in a good rhythm. I’ll hit draws, cuts, low shots, three-quarter shots.”

secrets

Ernie Els

“It depends how much time you’ve got, but whether it’s 20 minutes or 90 minutes, don’t rush. Too often I see golfers go through a bucket of balls in double-quick time, mostly with driver. Hit half as many balls and take a moment between shots to think about what you’re trying to achieve. Visualise the ballflight and mix up your targets. Always start with the wedge – just gentle pitch shots – and gradually work your way up through the bag. Don’t use every club; go with 9-iron, 7-iron, 5-iron, fairway metal and then driver. At the end of the session, wind down with a couple of easy pitch shots. Then make sure in your next session you ignore your long game and work exclusively on your chipping and putting.”

secrets

Edoardo Molinari

“I always start with the 60-degree lob wedge. I then go through the set, with the odd numbers one day and the even numbers the next. The 6-iron is probably the club I use the most, though. Alignment is very important and I probably work on that more than anything by putting one cane or club the other side of the ball and one just in front of my feet to make sure I’m aiming at my target.”

secrets

Jordan Spieth

“I can leave lots of putts short so on the putting green I find two holes that are a good distance apart, maybe 40 feet. I place a club three feet past the back edge of both holes. If they don’t go in, the putts must finish in this zone between the hole and the club. I start 10ft from one hole, leaving 30ft to the second hole from the same spot. I putt three balls to the 10ft hole and, if all three stop within the zone, I putt three to the longer hole. I only stop once I’ve got three consecutively in the zone at both ends.”

secrets

Bubba Watson

“The range for me is really all about loosening up. I’m not too worried about my swing or where the ball ends up. I’ll start with a sand wedge and then go right up the set to finish with a couple of drives. I’m really just making sure my body is ready to play and that I’m loosening those key areas. Everybody’s different but I don’t have any drills because that makes it a job!”

secrets

Lee Westwood

“I probably spend 60 per cent of my time on chipping, putting and bunker play. Variety in your practice is the key with these areas. A drill I use a lot on the chipping green, for example, sees me hit five chips from a range of lies and distances, but to the same flag. I have to get all five balls within a total of 10ft from the hole or I start again. In terms of my long game on the range I’ll mostly work on making sure my basics like ball position and alignment are correct. Lots of amateurs work on their swing, but they’re aiming 20 yards right or left which isn’t a great start!”

 

secrets

Ian Poulter

“Use an alignment aid every time you’re on the range. These tools install it in your brain that you’re standing square to the target. You can groove stance, posture, hand and ball position with one of these tools and if all those things are right then all you have to do is swing the club. Once I’m comfortable with my set-up I work on my scoring clubs. I’ll usually have four wedges in the bag which can hit every yardage from inside 140 yards. I finish by hitting random yardages within that mark one after the other.”