What's the most effective way for golfers to improve if they don't have much time to practice?

28 Professionals Contributed |
Finding time to work on your golf game can be tough, especially with a busy schedule. We asked our professionals how to get better without having to put in long hours on the driving range.

Practice Like You Play


Ladder Game

Putt golf balls from 10, 20, 30 and 40 feet from a hole. You must 2 putt or better to advance to the longer putt. Any 3 putts and you must start over. Putt until holing 100 feet of putts. The better you putt the faster you can climb the ladder.


Practice Up and Downs

Start 5 yards off the putting green and chip a ball onto the green and then putt it in the hole. If you score a 2 (up and down) or a 1, chip from 10 yards off the green. Then 15 yards, then 20 etc. 15-30 minutes of up and down practice will probe very helpful.

Golf swing

Start with the Grip

Ball Flight Law – All shots start in the direction of the club face at impact. The hands control the face.

Leap Frog Game

Place your hands on the club. Make a short swing to play a 5 yard shot. If the ball goes perfectly straight and in the air, hold the club exactly the same and make a swing that will cause the ball to fly a few yards further than the preceding shot. Repeat this process until you can play 5 shots in a row that all fly straight. Everybody wants consistency. When things are consistent, they are exactly the same. When a golfer learns how to hold the club in order to hit consistently straight shots, that is a breakthrough!

Timarron Country Club
"Practice Like You Play" Click to Tweet

Golf is a game of rhythm and balance.

Golf is a game of rhythm and balance. If a player takes the winter off or misses a week or more in the season, just visualize your motion. Be it through simple meditation (or mental preparation) that when you go to the tee you will confidently left your body flow the same direction as the club is going. For right handed players that means that the weight goes right side , left side. Back to the target, belt to the target. If you got that…swing your swing!

Don’t worry about it. You can play !

"Golf is a game of rhythm and balance." Click to Tweet

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Swinging a club in the backyard

Swinging a club in the backyard. If the golfer commonly falls off their feet, swing a club and just concentrate on finishing in the balance position. If the golfer commonly tops the ball, practice with wedge half swings in getting a small twig off of a doormat. These drills can be done in 5 to 10 minutes every evening. Educators tell us that numerous short sessions is much better for learning than long, marathon sessions. & practicing without a golf ball also allows the golfer to just think about the swing and not thinking about hitting the ball.

"Swinging a club in the backyard" Click to Tweet

Work on things that make the game a bit easier

If your practice sessions are few and far between, let’s work on things that make the game a bit easier. A simple set-up for every single club in your bag can improve consistency and make the game a lot less frustrating. Simply follow these four steps. First, grip the club and place your hands and the golf club above your head. Second, try to get your elbows to touch and let them fall onto your chest. Third, bend your knees and place your shoulders over your toes. Lastly, look at the sky and let the club fall to the ground. Where the club lands on the ground should show you where your golf ball should be. You’ll be perfectly set-up to the golf ball with every club. Try this drill and I know you’ll be shaving strokes off of your game, even with very little practice. Follow the video link and don’t forget to submit your golf swing today at www.SwingEssentials.com for your free virtual lesson. Have fun on the golf course!

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PGA Golf Pro
"Work on things that make the game a bit easier" @SwingEssentials Click to Tweet

First of all work all the time on how you hold the golf club

First of all work all the time on how you hold the golf club, have a training grip laying around the house or if you travel put it in your carry on and hold it while you watch the movie onboard. If you hold the club the same all the time, your shots will be more consistent even if they are slightly off line to the left or the right.

Secondly, stretch your body anytime and anyway that you can to stay loose in the neck and shoulder area as being calm there will lead to a longer, more solid swing. Keep the body flexible and your game will improve, period!!!

"First of all work all the time on how you hold the golf club" Click to Tweet

Five minutes of practice swings in the backyard, Daily.

One of the best things that all golfers can do, when they are pinched for time and cannot make it to the range, is to do five minutes of practice swings in the backyard, Daily. Often times, simply gripping a club, getting in golf posture and exercising the proper golf swing motion is ample practice. Every golfer can be productive, visualizing golf thoughts while physically making golf swing motions for five minutes every day. Simple tips include, but are not limited to: Keep your head still. Use soft grip pressure. Get in the proper athletic posture. Focus on your balance and rhythm, while swinging. Breathe deeply. Stay relaxed. And smile a lot.

Remember, we don’t always have to make a journey to the range and hit golf balls in order to practice golf. Try daily practice swings at home to physically train your tempo and mentally train your focus. Have fun!

The Country Club of Virginia
"Five minutes of practice swings in the backyard, Daily." Click to Tweet

You don't have to hit golf balls to improve

The most effective way is to just move! You don’t have to hit golf balls to improve, but making practice swings at home, make movements in the gym, or practicing positions in front of the mirror can definitely help your brain access the patterns you hope to display next time you head to the range or the course!

"You don't have to hit golf balls to improve" Glf66Grl Click to Tweet

Instructors are like doctors

Instructors are like doctors…some are great and extremely experienced and other are not. Find a highly experienced instructor that can help you reach your goals as quickly as possible. Still there is no substitution for practice…especially supervised practice.

"Instructors are like doctors" Click to Tweet

Flexibility is key!

I feel as we get older, flexibility is key! By practicing a little yoga daily you’ve killed two birds with one stone. Not only are you increasing your flexibility you’re also making it easier to maneuver the club head without the usual amount of practice.

"Flexibility is key!" Click to Tweet

For the full swing, mirror work is particularly good.

The number one reason we hear from golfers for why they don’t improve is that they lack the time. Yet, if golfers would simply make use of idle time at home or at work – time spent watching commercials, talking on the phone, etc. – they could get a lot more out of their golf games than they’re doing right now.

For the full swing, mirror work is particularly good. Whether you’re holding a pen or a bare grip or a ruler, you can make swings and look at your reflection in a mirror or a window to see what feels create different looks. For putting, you can put two balls down on the ground and practice stroking back and through about equal distances for good acceleration/deceleration in the putting stroke. For the short game, just chipping around your back yard is a great way to get in some time.

Golfers can find more time if they’re willing to work for it.

PGA Professional
"For the full swing, mirror work is particularly good." @iacas Click to Tweet

Swinging the club in your backyard

The fact is that most of us can find an hour or two a week to practice if we really want to improve. We just have to live by a pre-set schedule to follow week in and week out and want it bad enough. But, if you’re really one of those rare cases that can’t find an hour or two a week, I would recommend at least swinging the club in your backyard (even using golf wiffle balls) or swinging in front of a large mirror at home just to (at least) check that you’re in the right positions. You can also always practice putting without leaving home. That’s another way to improve and find strokes. Just buy one of those putting mats that come with a hole and work on grooving your short putts.

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Quality over quantity

The most effective way to practice with limited time is by remembering quality over quantity. There is a drill called the “2 Minute Swing” where you take a practice swing that lasts for ideally – 2 minutes. This extremely slow swing helps to improve your muscle memory making your practice as efficient as possible.

Billy Casper Golf
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It only takes about 5-10 minutes a day!

Here’s my take on how to practice if we have no time to get to the range or course. It only takes about 5-10 minutes a day!

Most adult golfers unfortunately don’t have enough time in their lives to practice, either at a driving range or a golf course. More importantly, they also logically most often struggle with the full swing. When working with your instructor, there are definitely movements that can be practiced at home, without hitting a golf ball, and often even without a golf club. I personally like to have my students hold their TV remote control (or another household item like a spatula) to work on the full swing motions.

The full swing, despite its difficulty, is the simplest thing we do in the game of golf. The only variable is ball position (further left for right handed player with larger/less lofted clubs).

If we take an athletic stance, by kicking our butt back and tilting our upper body down with only a slight knee bend, we can effectively practice a good set-up position.

From there, I personally look to see at least a 90° turn with our shoulders on the backswing, all while maintaining that athletic stance with your eyes focused where the ball would be. This would point our lead shoulder at least to the golf ball (behind it if possible) with short irons, which are played from the middle of our stance in between our feet.

Regarding the finish, I like to see my students’ chest facing left of their target (again for right handed players) with the right foot up on it’s tippy toe. Our bodies stand up entirely on the finish, at that point we will not be bent over whatsoever. We should be able to comfortably hold our finish for an indefinite period of time.

The more work like this we do behind the scenes, without the pressure of a golf club and/or the ball, more good swings will show up when it matters on the range and/or the course.

"It only takes about 5-10 minutes a day!" Click to Tweet

Do mirror work a few minutes a day

I hear from a lot of students that they don’t have time to practice a great deal. You don’t have to go to the range and hit balls for hours to get better but it doesn’t hurt if you are practicing correctly. I recommend to students to do mirror work a few minutes a day. Check your posture in the mirror always looking at the mirror located on your back foot side. Get the feeling of a good, athletic position and it will start to flow over into your set up on the course!

Topgolf Houston – Spring
"Do mirror work a few minutes a day" Click to Tweet

Learning and executing drills in the backyard or mirror work at home

With the high volume of content on social media/Youtube, a golfer doesn’t have to spend hours at a driving range. Simply learning and executing drills in the backyard or mirror work at home is a great way to elevate your golf game. There are tons of hitting nets and chipping nets in the market now that can also help facilitate a range-like session without leaving home for those who have time sensitive schedules.

FarmLinks Golf Club
"Learning and executing drills in the backyard or mirror work at home" @chris_burley94 Click to Tweet

Putt and chip in your living room

Try to putt and chip in your living room. That can keep your short game sharp. Also you can swing a 7 iron in your garage or yard to stay limber and practice mechanics.

Chris Rudi Golf Services
"Putt and chip in your living room" Click to Tweet

Practice two ways...

Practice two ways…1) fundamentals and new or flawed swing moves. These are things that we want to imbed (improperly called muscle memory) and imbedding comes from repetition of correct moves. …2) transfer practice for playing , which means one club/one shot. Just like on the course you never hit the same club twice(except for mistakes). I tell my students to have three targets on the rangers help “create” different shots. For better players learn to shape shots ( fade/draw/high/ low).

Note: putting with just one ball for distance putting will help you judge distance and relay that information to your body more accurately. Putting with multiple balls sets you up to miss due to message conflict.

Leader Golf
"Practice two ways..." Click to Tweet

Focus on inside 100 yards

Play as much as you can. But if you do have time to practice focus on inside 100 yards. This includes 100 yard shots. Use all of your wedges and make sure that you hit a few putts. Short distance from 3-5 feet. Medium.distances from 6-20 feet and long distances from outside 20 feet.

GlenArbor Golf Club
"Focus on inside 100 yards" @roblabritzgolf Click to Tweet

Practice isn't about quantity, it's about quality.

DON’T BUY THE LARGEST BUCKET OF BALLS AND BLAST THEM ALL OVER THE PLACE! I like to remind my students that practice isn’t about quantity, it’ about quality. If you are really trying to improve your golf game you need to be focused on your weaknesses when you head to the practice tee. While playing rounds of golf keep track of your stats, and take mental notes of your misses. Most of my students I have turned on to Arccos golf which tracks all their data for them and allows me to track their progress.

After you have collected this data and then come up with a plan for the practice session make sure to stay focused throughout each shot. I encourage students to practice like they play and make numerous rehearsal(practice) swings before hitting a golf shot. Our brains capture a ton of information from rehearsal swings and are able to translate that into better motions when over a golf ball.

We all want to improve, so slow it down, set your intention for your practice and stick to it. I promise you if you hit less balls, make more rehearsal swings and have more focus over each shot you will improve.

Semiahmoo Golf & Country Club
"Practice isn't about quantity, it's about quality." Click to Tweet

There is a difference between playing golf and playing golf swing

I tell a lot of people there is a difference between playing golf and playing golf swing. It’s easy to get stuck on the range, raking ball after ball trying to find a swing, when all that matters is how effective you can get it in the hole. The best players have good swings but have a talent for getting it in the hole. “Golf is not a game of perfect” by Dr. Bob Rotella, buy the book! Great read and will change the way you look at golf.
What little time you have to practice should be done trying to mimic an actual game. If your on the range, pretend there is a fairway between two flags and try to hit 14 drives in the “fairway.” Practice getting up and down, not just chipping ball after ball to the same hole.

Efficient practice is effective practice.

"There is a difference between playing golf and playing golf swing" @mjasbell Click to Tweet

Always have a club in your hand

The best way to practice is in front of a mirror. If you want to become elite, always have a club in your hand when you have free time. Just practicing position and pressure on the handle can dramatically improve feel and touch.

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Grip a club in your office and practice a waggle

Simply grip a club in your office and practice a waggle to get the feel for the club and club head. You can learn to soften up your grip pressure which will help when you play.

Steve Bosdosh Golf Academy
"Grip a club in your office and practice a waggle" @stevebosdosh Click to Tweet

Good visualization of good shots has shown nice results

There is no substitute for good, focused practice but good visualization of good shots has shown nice results. 15-20 minutes every evening in a very quiet comfortable chair. Get very relaxed and see a high light reel of your best shots.

DragonRidge Country Club
"Good visualization of good shots has shown nice results" Click to Tweet

Practice like you play as often as you can

The best athletes know the importance of efficient practice when it comes to performance in their sports. For golfers, practice like you play as often as you can. It is better to hit 20 different shots during a short practice session than to hit the same shot over and over. Over time this will prepare you for playing the game, not golf swing. This applies to putting as well. Mix in putting with full shots to half shots, cycling through various distances, trajectories and spin control. Make every shot count towards your ultimate goal of improving!

The Golf Performance Center
"Practice like you play as often as you can" @GPCacademy Click to Tweet

Stretching and exercise

My best advice for improving your golf game without time to practice is stretching and exercise. I like to focus mainly on strengthening my core and improving my flexibility in the offseason when it is more difficult to get practice in. I find that this helps to have better control over my body during my swing. If you struggle finding time to get to the gym, just take a few minutes stretching and strengthening your core in front of the television. I hope this helps!

Chenequa Country Club
"Stretching and exercise" Click to Tweet

Prioritize your practice time

Honestly, there is no substitute for practice. That being said, whenever we can practice, we need to do so efficiently and effectively. Have a plan, use technology, and commit to executing it. Let me also add – Prioritize your practice time to the shots that will improve your scores the most!

Mohegan Sun Golf Club
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Find a PGA Instructor to show you how to putt, chip, and pitch.

If you want to improve as quickly as possible you must find a PGA Instructor to show you how to putt, chip, and pitch. You will lower your scores much quicker by becoming proficient with the short game!

"Find a PGA Instructor to show you how to putt, chip, and pitch." @barrywchurchill Click to Tweet

Spend 60% of your time on shots inside of 75 yards

The best way for golfers to improve when they do not have time to practice is to make the most out of the time they do have. Spend 60% of your time on shots inside of 75 yards. Most amateurs gain most of their strokes near the green. When you are on the range imagine playing a hole. Hit your drive, then imagine hitting an iron into the first green, and then repeat. This way you are not just beating balls, you are adding some purpose to your session. Next, play more golf!

Fairways Golf Course
"Spend 60% of your time on shots inside of 75 yards" Click to Tweet

The Professionals in this Roundup

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