If you’re looking for more practice time, are trapped indoors for a day (or the winter), or are for whatever reason obsessed with your game, consider the possibilities of golf practice at your home. At-home practice sessions can be indoors or outdoors and take only a few minutes to a few hours.
There are all kinds of gadgets and equipment for at-home practice: nets, mats, a variety of artificial surfaces, simulators, putting aids, and other training aids. You can set up a practice area in your garage, basement, or backyard. (Or you can just putt and chip in your family room.) You can invest a little or a lot of money in at-home practice, or you can go the do-it-yourself route: use a few clubs, balls and common items found around the house.
Home is a great place to practice your short game. You can also work out kinks in your golf swing and sharpen fundamentals.
Following are some tips, drills and ideas to consider, with a caveat from legendary golf coach Harvey Penick, author of the bestselling Harvey Penick’s Little Red Book:
“Golf tips are like aspirin. One may do you good, but if you swallow the whole bottle you will be lucky to survive.”
Swing a heavy or weighted club. This will help you be strong and flexible, as well as retain muscle memory.
“If you can do 25 to 50 swings a day with a heavy club, I find it makes a big difference come spring,” said PGA head club professional Kevin Piecuch. “My students who have done that have increased club speed by two or three miles per hour over a three-month period, which is equivalent to 15 to 20 yards off the tee.”
Find a spot at home where you can comfortably make a full golf swing.
Hit balls into a net. Set up a net in your garage, basement, or outside. Tour player instructor Rick Smith said hitting balls into a net allows you to be less focused on ball flight and instead work on things such as mechanics, tempo, and muscle memory.
Indoor putting drills. Golf Channel’s Paige Mackenzie recently talked about practicing your putting stroke in your living room using masking tape. Put several feet of tape on the floor in a straight line. Then hit short putts along the tape, using the tape as a directional guide for the path of the putter through the ball.
What to work on: Putting stroke should stay square and follow target line. Accelerate, at least slightly, through the ball.
Indoor chipping drills. Whether off an artificial mat or carpet, practice short chips to a target. Get the feel of striking solid chips and consistently flying the ball a short distance with a few lofted clubs. One drill is to place a small towel six to 10 feet away. Practice landing your chips on the towel. This will help improve feel and distance control.
Full-length mirror. Use a mirror for several drills, as explained by Mackenzie and others. Check and practice your takeaway, the critical first move in your golf swing. Also check your posture, ball position, and swing plane.
Watch golf on TV or other device. Not only is it entertaining, but you can learn a lot by watching the pros. Copy their technique, where applicable, and channel their swing tempo. Study their course management and decision-making. While watching, work on your golf grip, getting the feel of the golf club in your hands, including grip pressure.
Golf instruction books. Read your way to improvement in the quiet of your home. Ben Hogan’s Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf is still the bible of golf instruction for any golfer. There are also many other worthy golf instruction books.
These are just some of the many ways to incorporate home practice into your golf game. Be creative and make it fun. Your game will flourish.