Playing and Scoring (and competing) without practice.

Playing and Scoring (and competing) without practice.

Joined: October 11th, 2001, 7:22 pm

August 26th, 2008, 3:57 pm #1

How well can one play without practicing? That depends on a lot of things. First, what is your definition of playing well? Second, is your swing one that is “grooved, a habit, requires little maintenance”. Third, do you subscribe to the notion and philosophy that, “when it’s built, it’s built”, or do you believe that there is always “work to be done” in order to “keep your swing in shape”. How much do you (can you) trust your swing?

For me, I have answered all those questions. I have just concluded playing in my first evening golf league in over 10 years. In a sort of paradox of scheduling, I finally had a job that allowed me to have evenings off so I could play in the weekday evenings, but due to many personal issues, was not able to spend hardly anytime practicing anything – even my Bertholy drills. Pretty much limited to swinging a weighted club while I took a ½ hour walk during my lunch period. And except for a handful of full rounds, my actual playing was limited to the 9 hole match on Wednesday league night.

In other words, I was forced to play without practice. So how’d I do? Just using the swing I’ve built and trained over the last 5 years or so (has it been that long?)? Just me, my swing, and my Clearkey? Only the best golf of my life – I finished as a 2 handicap ( 9 holes ). I won the prize twice for long drive and my younger opponents are always surprised to learn that I am 51 years old. They don’t believe when I tell them the only golf I play is on league nights, and that I don’t practice. Interestingly, two of my worst rounds, a 48, and a 44 came on nights when, LOL… I “practiced” at the range prior to teeing off! (guess I wasn’t trusting it!) The nine hole handicap probably would translate over to a 4 or 5 for 18 holes – if my full rounds are an indicator. I had rounds of 82, 74, 76, and 75.

Some will say “You could’ve been scratch or better with practice”… Perhaps, but I think I could have been scratch or better if I sank more putts for birdies and eagles! All in all, I’d say I played about as well as I could, and any additional scoring improvement will come from refinements to the scoring game – chipping, pitching, and putting.

So just a bit of a brag for sure, but also an encouragement to stay the course – it is possible to play well without practice - if you have a swing you can trust! And, I am human, chugging along with rounds in the 30’s then BAM…a 48..it happens. But it doesn’t happen much anymore

Stan answered this question too I think – “OK, I am finally at peace with my golf swing.” That’s the real key and the best starting place. If you always are tinkering, you will always be tinkering. Find your swing, then find a way to let it play.
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Joined: December 5th, 2002, 1:33 pm

August 26th, 2008, 5:35 pm #2

Well, I suppose there are a gifted few who can play excellent golf without much practice. In fact, I know such a person. But I think that's a rare thing and that most of us require quite a bit of practice to get good and to stay good. Good, of course, is a subjective word like you said. I play to an index of 8 and have stayed in that area for several years except for a period of time when I didn't play much and practiced even less. My handicap went up a few strokes then. I seem to be stuck where I'm at so now I'm working really hard on my short game, an area I have always neglected more than I should. It does seem to be paying off. One thing to remember though is that the lower your handicap goes, the harder it becomes to get it even lower. My personal feeling is that it's much easier for a 20 handicapper to get to a 10 than it is for a 5 handicapper to get to scratch. jmo. Another thing I'll point out, and this is certainly not meant to be taken as questioning your golfing abilities, when playing an 18 hole round, one nine will usually be more difficult than the other. For me, where I play most, it's the front nine. This could possibly be because I don't take the time to warm up but I do feel the front is harder than the back. Anyway, back to the topic. If Ben Hogan felt like practice was important then it must be. Same with VJ. I don't know of anybody today who works more at it than he does. But people are different and some just probably really like to practice. I think how you practice is probably more important than how much. For some getting on the range and beating the ball with only the driver is considered practice but it won't really do much for their game. btw, I'm 62 so maybe I'm just starting to find out that chipping and putting are actually fun and relaxing as well as the best way to improve my scores.
Jerry
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Joined: October 26th, 2007, 12:53 am

August 26th, 2008, 6:24 pm #3

How well can one play without practicing? That depends on a lot of things. First, what is your definition of playing well? Second, is your swing one that is “grooved, a habit, requires little maintenance”. Third, do you subscribe to the notion and philosophy that, “when it’s built, it’s built”, or do you believe that there is always “work to be done” in order to “keep your swing in shape”. How much do you (can you) trust your swing?

For me, I have answered all those questions. I have just concluded playing in my first evening golf league in over 10 years. In a sort of paradox of scheduling, I finally had a job that allowed me to have evenings off so I could play in the weekday evenings, but due to many personal issues, was not able to spend hardly anytime practicing anything – even my Bertholy drills. Pretty much limited to swinging a weighted club while I took a ½ hour walk during my lunch period. And except for a handful of full rounds, my actual playing was limited to the 9 hole match on Wednesday league night.

In other words, I was forced to play without practice. So how’d I do? Just using the swing I’ve built and trained over the last 5 years or so (has it been that long?)? Just me, my swing, and my Clearkey? Only the best golf of my life – I finished as a 2 handicap ( 9 holes ). I won the prize twice for long drive and my younger opponents are always surprised to learn that I am 51 years old. They don’t believe when I tell them the only golf I play is on league nights, and that I don’t practice. Interestingly, two of my worst rounds, a 48, and a 44 came on nights when, LOL… I “practiced” at the range prior to teeing off! (guess I wasn’t trusting it!) The nine hole handicap probably would translate over to a 4 or 5 for 18 holes – if my full rounds are an indicator. I had rounds of 82, 74, 76, and 75.

Some will say “You could’ve been scratch or better with practice”… Perhaps, but I think I could have been scratch or better if I sank more putts for birdies and eagles! All in all, I’d say I played about as well as I could, and any additional scoring improvement will come from refinements to the scoring game – chipping, pitching, and putting.

So just a bit of a brag for sure, but also an encouragement to stay the course – it is possible to play well without practice - if you have a swing you can trust! And, I am human, chugging along with rounds in the 30’s then BAM…a 48..it happens. But it doesn’t happen much anymore

Stan answered this question too I think – “OK, I am finally at peace with my golf swing.” That’s the real key and the best starting place. If you always are tinkering, you will always be tinkering. Find your swing, then find a way to let it play.
Wow -- what a great post. Personally, I find that if I don't practice for long periods of time, my short game goes bad, and the long game stays pretty good. The worse thing I can do is go to the driving range and "bang" a couple buckets of balls. About 1/2 way through one of these extended practices sessions, my long game goes south and it takes me several days to get back on track. My present practice routine consists of hitting a few balls on the driving range, and then spending the bulk of my time chipping and putting. Works much better for me.

Thanks again for your inspiring post.

Allen
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Joined: December 2nd, 2002, 7:44 pm

August 26th, 2008, 7:53 pm #4

Well, I suppose there are a gifted few who can play excellent golf without much practice. In fact, I know such a person. But I think that's a rare thing and that most of us require quite a bit of practice to get good and to stay good. Good, of course, is a subjective word like you said. I play to an index of 8 and have stayed in that area for several years except for a period of time when I didn't play much and practiced even less. My handicap went up a few strokes then. I seem to be stuck where I'm at so now I'm working really hard on my short game, an area I have always neglected more than I should. It does seem to be paying off. One thing to remember though is that the lower your handicap goes, the harder it becomes to get it even lower. My personal feeling is that it's much easier for a 20 handicapper to get to a 10 than it is for a 5 handicapper to get to scratch. jmo. Another thing I'll point out, and this is certainly not meant to be taken as questioning your golfing abilities, when playing an 18 hole round, one nine will usually be more difficult than the other. For me, where I play most, it's the front nine. This could possibly be because I don't take the time to warm up but I do feel the front is harder than the back. Anyway, back to the topic. If Ben Hogan felt like practice was important then it must be. Same with VJ. I don't know of anybody today who works more at it than he does. But people are different and some just probably really like to practice. I think how you practice is probably more important than how much. For some getting on the range and beating the ball with only the driver is considered practice but it won't really do much for their game. btw, I'm 62 so maybe I'm just starting to find out that chipping and putting are actually fun and relaxing as well as the best way to improve my scores.
Jerry
i think you have to start young. In fact it even says that in the bertholy book. that it is much harder to learn at an older age. I know people who started golfing as a kid who can never practice and go out and shooting the upper 60's or low 70's because they have been golfing since they were young kids and became good golfers then.
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Joined: October 11th, 2001, 7:22 pm

August 27th, 2008, 3:27 am #5

because children learn by mimic....Bertholy maintained we lose this ability as we get older, and thus the need to develop his method to "feed the fine swing into the nuero muscular structure".

However we still learn and develop habits as adults. If we do something enough times that it becomes a habit, then wen can draw on that habit without consciously thinking about it - driving a car is a good example.

Bertholy also said that a player could get to the point that he played a golf shot with no more mental effort than smoking a cigarette or singing a song. Once a habit is there it is there, never to be lost. True, our golf muscles may atrophy if not used, but with just a little bit of golf exercise they are kept in top shape. If they have been inactive for awhile there will be "some rust that needs to get knocked off", but the swign you ahve as a habit is still there.

Oh and one other thing, just becasue Hogan thought practice was important doesnt mean it is....practice may or may not be important. Depends on what, how and why you practice. Did you drive around the block several times this morning to practice before you drove to work? Do you practice shaving your face? How bout making love to your wife...do you practice that first? Didn't think so!

And just because I played the best golf of my life wihtout practicing - it doesn't mean my girlfreind, who just took up the game, can play the game as well as I can without practicing...we all must put in the work to get the swing we desire.

I was just relating my experience in playing without practicing. Most people feel they must practice because they are always tinkering and never sure of their swing. They are still operating in the mechanical realm of golf swing. Swing Like Moe has come to rest with his swing quest, others Im sure have also. It is a fun way to play the game, not having to think about your swing while you are playing. It is wretched to play with all kinds of swing thoughts and concerns about how you are swinging. I know becasue I have been there. Driving to the course wondering "who will show up" and if I "will have my swing today". Now I get to the course about a half hour before tee time, chip and putt to get a sense and feel for grenn speed and ball reaction. And every five minutes or so swing my weighted 5 iron to loosen up. I stretch my hammies a bunch, and go to the tee and play.

If you feel the need to practice go ahead...but what are you praticing? Are you buidling a habit, or still trying things? If you are not building a habit, you will always be practicing.
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Joined: January 13th, 2001, 8:30 am

August 27th, 2008, 4:31 am #6

Practice???
Practice???
We talk’n about practice???
Not the game where I go out and kill myself

Oops wrong sport!

Hogan's practice habits are interesting. From what I have read he spent a lot of time thinking and not so much hitting balls. He hit every practice shot with a purpose. Since he said that he never hit more then two or three shots that came off exactly like he wanted during a round it is perhaps easy to see why he felt that there were not enough hours in the day to practice. Practice with a definite purpose of strengthening weakness and honing required shots certainly paid off for Hogan. I am not sure that many of us have the swing or the smarts to practice at that level.

I think that if you really want to improve then you can make practice time very valuable by practicing with a purpose. Practice the shots that you have trouble with. Practice hitting shots high, low and left to right and right to left. I think McIrishman that if you want to improve further that is probably the sort of practice that you would want to do. You don't need to practice the swing since it is a habit. To get to next level I think that you would need to practice with a purpose. LOL, probably not what you want to do though since you are at level that is very enjoyable and I think that you might find that sort of practice to be more like work???

Hogan did say that he loved to practice and I think that the heavy mental side was a big part of what kept him interested. He was reported to be extremely intelligent, a roomate of his estimated his IQ at about 150 based on test questions that he asked Hogan without Hogan realizing what he was up to.

Regards, Herbert
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Joined: January 13th, 2001, 8:30 am

August 27th, 2008, 5:29 am #7

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Joined: September 22nd, 2006, 11:35 am

August 27th, 2008, 3:15 pm #8

How well can one play without practicing? That depends on a lot of things. First, what is your definition of playing well? Second, is your swing one that is “grooved, a habit, requires little maintenance”. Third, do you subscribe to the notion and philosophy that, “when it’s built, it’s built”, or do you believe that there is always “work to be done” in order to “keep your swing in shape”. How much do you (can you) trust your swing?

For me, I have answered all those questions. I have just concluded playing in my first evening golf league in over 10 years. In a sort of paradox of scheduling, I finally had a job that allowed me to have evenings off so I could play in the weekday evenings, but due to many personal issues, was not able to spend hardly anytime practicing anything – even my Bertholy drills. Pretty much limited to swinging a weighted club while I took a ½ hour walk during my lunch period. And except for a handful of full rounds, my actual playing was limited to the 9 hole match on Wednesday league night.

In other words, I was forced to play without practice. So how’d I do? Just using the swing I’ve built and trained over the last 5 years or so (has it been that long?)? Just me, my swing, and my Clearkey? Only the best golf of my life – I finished as a 2 handicap ( 9 holes ). I won the prize twice for long drive and my younger opponents are always surprised to learn that I am 51 years old. They don’t believe when I tell them the only golf I play is on league nights, and that I don’t practice. Interestingly, two of my worst rounds, a 48, and a 44 came on nights when, LOL… I “practiced” at the range prior to teeing off! (guess I wasn’t trusting it!) The nine hole handicap probably would translate over to a 4 or 5 for 18 holes – if my full rounds are an indicator. I had rounds of 82, 74, 76, and 75.

Some will say “You could’ve been scratch or better with practice”… Perhaps, but I think I could have been scratch or better if I sank more putts for birdies and eagles! All in all, I’d say I played about as well as I could, and any additional scoring improvement will come from refinements to the scoring game – chipping, pitching, and putting.

So just a bit of a brag for sure, but also an encouragement to stay the course – it is possible to play well without practice - if you have a swing you can trust! And, I am human, chugging along with rounds in the 30’s then BAM…a 48..it happens. But it doesn’t happen much anymore

Stan answered this question too I think – “OK, I am finally at peace with my golf swing.” That’s the real key and the best starting place. If you always are tinkering, you will always be tinkering. Find your swing, then find a way to let it play.
Personal commments about range. I think most people, like Moe or Hogan or myself, who like to work the range a lot, have personality disorder, expressing itself through mild compulsive/obsessive. I go to lunch everyday and hit 80 range balls, and schmooz with other range rats.

I think the other thing that range does for you is to make you strong, from the repetition of swinging. For my age, I am VERY strong, and this, definitely, helps my golf game. Many people have a game that falls apart after the 14th hole or so, and, to me, that is a strength issue.

I like range. If they ever make a game out of it, I'm turning pro
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Joined: October 11th, 2001, 7:22 pm

August 27th, 2008, 6:20 pm #9

Practice???
Practice???
We talk’n about practice???
Not the game where I go out and kill myself

Oops wrong sport!

Hogan's practice habits are interesting. From what I have read he spent a lot of time thinking and not so much hitting balls. He hit every practice shot with a purpose. Since he said that he never hit more then two or three shots that came off exactly like he wanted during a round it is perhaps easy to see why he felt that there were not enough hours in the day to practice. Practice with a definite purpose of strengthening weakness and honing required shots certainly paid off for Hogan. I am not sure that many of us have the swing or the smarts to practice at that level.

I think that if you really want to improve then you can make practice time very valuable by practicing with a purpose. Practice the shots that you have trouble with. Practice hitting shots high, low and left to right and right to left. I think McIrishman that if you want to improve further that is probably the sort of practice that you would want to do. You don't need to practice the swing since it is a habit. To get to next level I think that you would need to practice with a purpose. LOL, probably not what you want to do though since you are at level that is very enjoyable and I think that you might find that sort of practice to be more like work???

Hogan did say that he loved to practice and I think that the heavy mental side was a big part of what kept him interested. He was reported to be extremely intelligent, a roomate of his estimated his IQ at about 150 based on test questions that he asked Hogan without Hogan realizing what he was up to.

Regards, Herbert
I would practice, and do practice when I am able. I picture the course, or hole in mind, etc. And the shot required. Say for example I pretend I've short sided myself and have to hit a flop shot over a bunker to a tight pin. I then execute the shot using an eight ball "set" - 4 thinking about it, and then 4 more on Clearkey. In this way, I am "practicing playing", going through the same process I would if I was in a match.

My ball striking could, with spcific work, be better. But as someone posted, the improvement from here on out wont be much - I am averaging about 290 of the tee, 60% ish GIR...for me and where I am at...thats good enough....or as Stan said...good enough is good enough.

For me now, the thing that needs the most "work" is the art of playing. Im done with "golf swing" -until the time when I am able to play some real competetive golf on a regular basis, there is no need. Hopefully, as things get less crazy on the persional front, I can find some time this fall before the snow flies - cause I do love to "practice"!
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Joined: October 11th, 2001, 7:22 pm

August 27th, 2008, 6:34 pm #10

Personal commments about range. I think most people, like Moe or Hogan or myself, who like to work the range a lot, have personality disorder, expressing itself through mild compulsive/obsessive. I go to lunch everyday and hit 80 range balls, and schmooz with other range rats.

I think the other thing that range does for you is to make you strong, from the repetition of swinging. For my age, I am VERY strong, and this, definitely, helps my golf game. Many people have a game that falls apart after the 14th hole or so, and, to me, that is a strength issue.

I like range. If they ever make a game out of it, I'm turning pro
range....sigh...when I have the time I will purchase the "all you can hit" for $15. The hours pass quickly and when they turn out the lights it seems like only minutes ago that I had started hitting. I get totally lost, sometimes playing whole "rounds" on different courses - in my mind's eye. Or creating shots like I posted to Herbert above...

I get sorta lost, or mesmerized, or high, or something...

One time I went through 5 large...the clerk saw me coming for that last bucket and just rolled her eyes...

About strength...a weighted club 15 minutes a day is worth an hour and a half of range!
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