Ivan Morris – Proper practice makes perfect

Ivan Morris

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Ivan Morris

Ivan Morris – Proper practice makes perfect

Think about it. Par means nothing. The only function of "par" that I can think of is it allows players and spectators to know the state of play.

Other than that, par is just a mind game.

Imagine if Augusta National, before last year's Master's tournament, decreed that holes 2, 8, 13, and 15 were no longer par-5s and had been reduced to par 4's.

Everyone would have been 'up in arms' screaming how difficult those holes are but in reality, the holes would be exactly the same.

Instead of Jordan Spieth's winning score being -18, it would have been -2 but it would have been the same winner and he would have played every shot exactly the same. Par is meaningless.

Par for an individual hole means even less than setting a par figure for the whole course. Which brings me to the heart of my argument: par would be more meaningless still if we all played more match play golf.

We would all learn to win or to lose and we would all enjoy the game more because we would not be keeping score and counting all of our strokes; probably the most dreadful inconvenience foisted upon us innocent, susceptible golfers.

 

The Pros & Cons of Practice

If top professionals practice so much, wouldn't it make you wonder why the rest of us do not practice a little? But, there is a catch. There's both a right way and wrong way to practice.

It isn’t so much a lack of talent; it’s a lack of being able to repeat good shots consistently that frustrates most players. Nobody – but nobody – has ever become really proficient at golf without hitting a lot of shots.

Christy O'Connor Senior becomes very cross when somebody eulogizes him as 'a great, natural golfer.' Christy says he worked his socks off in developing his much admired golf swing.

When golfers go to the practice ground or driving range, they usually adhere to the pattern of starting off by hitting a few soft wedges, working quickly through the iron clubs, before impatience wins and out comes the big stick - boom, bash, crash, wallop!

That's how a lot of golfers practice, and it's not worth a damn.

Some golfers toil away hitting 6-iron after 6-iron at the same target. They think that they are 'grooving' their swing.

As soon as they have that 6-iron shot down pat they think they have the swing 'grooved.' Wrong! If golf was that easy we'd all be a lot better than we are.

The problem with such repetition is after a while our brains switch off, lulled into a false sense of security. We might feel that 12 consecutive, perfect 6-irons in a row is pretty good but it only is at the time. Hitting a bunch of the same shots with the same club is not golf.

Peter Thomson, 5-times Open Champion, is an advocate of "random practice" in which you must constantly adapt and re-adapt to the circumstances that arise. When at the driving range, you must imagine you are playing on a golf course.

Hit your driver first and based on how well you hit it you should now know the type of second shot you would be faced with - play that one and so on. Don't stand there just hitting the same shot one after another.

Although nobody ever told me to practice, I have always been assiduous about it because not only do I want to improve but I actually enjoy it.

It was, perhaps, a little too late when I realized that it was as important to be mentally prepared and composed as having one’s golf swing in smooth working order.

When the heat is on your swing will revert to what comes naturally and what comes naturally depends on the quality and quantity of the mental preparation that took place in the weeks, months and years prior.

Matthew Syed, the author of a fascinating book called, BOUNCE, subtitled “How Champions Are Made” comes to the conclusion that nobody has ever reached the summit in any sphere without undergoing vast amounts of practice.

Would you believe a minimum of 10,000 hours? Syed further concludes that golf involves such complicated and diverse skills that it may take up to 20,000 hours to become proficient, let alone becoming a champion.

He argues convincingly that anybody who puts in such significant amounts of the correct practice at any endeavour would be ‘certain’ to see some success at the end of it.

The primary reason why the vast majority of golfers find it beyond them to have ever broken 90 for 18-holes, an eminently achievable average of five strokes per hole, is because they have never bothered to apply themselves to the task by learning the fundamentals and committing to a regimen of purposeful practice.

That such practice has to be constantly and consistently undertaken would simply never dawn on some golfers.

Perhaps it is because it is too easy to keep turning in bad scores, allow your handicap to rise to the point where you can win the captain's prize without ever hitting a good shot of any description?

Words of the Wise

Change is always good. There can never be a status quo. You always have to be upgrading, if you don't you will be left behind sooner or later - Billy Beane