Practice unusual shots to develop creativity

Lately I’ve been having so much fun practicing my short game, that I almost don’t feel like going to the driving range.

I’ll bring my bag out to the practice area and I have a sleeve where I keep 10 practice balls.  The sleeve allows me to quickly pick them up, and drop balls anywhere I want to hit from.  It’s been a lot of fun just trying different shots and seeing which club and shot is easiest for me to get it consistently close.  Sometimes I’m surprised by the results.

For example, I picked a shot from the fringe off the green, with about 15 yards to the pin.  There was plenty of green to work with so I tried everything from 9 iron to 60 degree lob wedge.  I would hit a full sleeve of balls with each club, sometimes 2 or three depending on what I was feeling.  Sometimes it was easier to loft it high and land it soft, and other times it was easier to bump and run it up to the pin.  I found that I could get, on that particular shot, roughly the same results with the 9i, PW, 52 degree and 56 degree sand wedge, while the 60 degree was just a bit less consistent.

Once I get going it, I’m constantly picking up the 10 balls and dropping them in a new location to try a new shot.  It’s really a lot of fun, but the biggest benefit is that you begin to develop feel.  The more shots you hit with different clubs from different lies, the more creative you start to become.

I picked a shot that normally I would hit a lob wedge pitch with.  The ball was in the rough, about 5 yards from the fairway, 10 from the green, and 13 from the pin.  I tried some bump and runs with the PW and some pitches with 52 and in both cases I was able to get the balls pretty close to the pin, averaging three to four feet away.  The fun part was that the trajectories were very different and I had to see the shot very differently with those two clubs.  It was a lot of fun just to try different shots and I highly recommend it.

The more creative you can be in your practice, the more fun you can have.  The other benefit of it, is that it takes your mind of mechanics.  It forces you to visualize more clearly and to concentrate more on the feel you are trying to achieve.  This is the kind of practice that I believe can translate well to the course.

2 thoughts on “Practice unusual shots to develop creativity”

  1. This one of my favorite things to do. I’m fortunate in that I live close to an old par 3 course. They don’t charge anymore, and the city keeps it in okay condition, so I am free to practice whenever I want.

    Today I practiced downhill-sidehill lies if you can picture that. I definitely have an advantage over my friends because of my private practice facility. Practicing these shots, like you said, makes practicing a lot more fun. It also makes you a better golfer. Great post

  2. @Dexter: Hi Dexter,

    You definitely have an advantage with that practice facility. I’m still trying to find a really good affordable place to practice around here as the chipping green near me is workable, but could be a lot better. I’ve practiced a few of those downhill sidehill lies and they are tough. It’s difficult to elevate the ball. Good shot to practice though.

    I played recently at a place that has a really good practice facility including 3 holes (2 par 3s and a par 4), in the practice area. Unfortunately it’s not close to me at all. I also heard from a friend that PGA Village down in West Palm Beach, Florida, has an incredible practice facility, and unlimited golf balls on the range for 12 bucks. Wish that was close to me but I’d have to fly down to Florida to take advantage of that.

    Continue to practice unusual shots, we face them much more than we think. You can’t practice them on the driving range, because there you usually have a flat perfect lie.

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