Many golfers believe that hitting balls every day will improve their golf game. The absolute truth is that it won’t, not unless you’re doing it correctly and that your hitting sessions have a purpose.
Standing on the range or in front of a net swinging away for a hundred, two hundred, or three hundred shots could do your game far more harm than good, and with the average golfer, that’s precisely what happens. Unless you have a specific purpose for this training, you’re better off not hitting balls at all.
Unlike other sports, golf is not a game that guarantees improvement through practice. If you were guaranteed to drop a shot for every practice session you did or every three hundred balls you hit, well, we’d all be playing on the PGA tour!
But, we’re not – so let’s find out why.
Why Time Is Both Your Enemy And Your Friend
The significant difference between a professional golfer and the average amateur is that pro golfers play this game for a living.
They don’t work or have daytime jobs; they play full time and, as such, have access to the best training facilities, coaches, equipment, and analysis that is, for the most part, beyond the weekend golfers’ resources- especially time.
Time is the one resource that is always against the amateur and one that, if used correctly, can make the most difference to improving their skills and, when used poorly, can do more damage than an Atlantic Hurricane!
How Many Golf Balls Do Pros Hit Every Day.
On average, a pro golfer hits about 500 shots a day, but only about 50-100 of those are on a driving range. Most of them are hit from around the greens and on the course itself. But, hitting golf balls is a tiny part of a pro golfers’ training day.
Since this is their job and your job takes up about 8 hours a day, their training regimen also takes up about 8 hours a day.
Starting the day with proper nutrition, then either a cardio or weights session at the gym, and only then do they move to the range.
They will work on their swing mechanics and elements around swing technique that require some fine tuning at the range. After that, they will head to the course and focus on other aspects of their game, like chipping, putting, or playing from the rough.
There are still the mental elements of the game that they work on, focus, concentration, and consistent execution.
The fundamental difference between pros and amateurs is the pursuit of quality over quantity, and that’s the bottom line here.
If you are serious about improving your golf game all around, then you don’t need to practice more; you need to practice better!
You need to use the time you have to maximize your results and walk away with actual progress, not sweating and frustrated and wondering why you are JUST NOT GETTING BETTER with all the practice you do!
You’re not getting better because you are NOT DOING THE RIGHT THINGS, so if your goal is to really and genuinely play better golf, then changing your mindset about your training is where you need to start.
If You Want to Play Better, Then Practise How You Play.
Nowhere in any golf game I have played in or watched has any player hit 200 shots or more! Ever. Then why do you do this on the range? You are setting yourself up for failure by doing this. On the golf course, you have ONE shot. ONE Swing. So you have to make every swing count.
How many balls should you hit at the range? No more than 60.
You see, simply hitting ball after ball at the range hoping that somehow by some miracle or grace of the golf gods that you swing and ball striking is magically going to come right, and all of a sudden, you’ll be flushing your driver and irons.
AIN’T GONNA HAPPEN.
So if that’s not going to work, then what is?
Here are four strategies that you can implement right now that will drastically improve your game, and you don’t need to hit 500 shots a day to do it!
Strategy #1 – Get Your Swing Mechanics Right
The golf swing is a complex action with many moving parts and only ten thousand things that can go wrong. To achieve consistent and accurate ball striking, you need to have the fundamentals of your swing correct.
Consistent and accurate ball-striking requires consistent and precise action. Proper swing mechanics also reduce the risk of injury. The list of golf injuries is extensive, and most of those result from over-exertion of force in the various joints and muscles.
Getting your swing mechanics correct is essential. The golf swing has two distinct parts to it.
The first part of this process is the setup.
The Setup – The first phase for successful execution.
Your swing setup is a fundamental element that cannot be underestimated. Your posture, grip, head position, distance to the ball, stance height, knee flex, and alignment ensure that your body is in the correct position to execute the swing.
The swing and the setup are two different and separate elements. The only purpose of the setup is to get all swing elements correctly and accurately positioned so you can swing the club properly.
You need to take the time and invest in lessons or training that will give you the correct setup and understand WHY these elements of your swing are essential. You need to be able to recreate your setup consistently and sequentially to put your body in the correct position to execute the swing action.
The Swing – The Execution of the Action.
The swing is the principal action that propels the ball toward the target. Once your body is in the correct position, you can execute the action, strike the ball and get it moving toward the target.
Most amateur players have no pre-shot routine or setup, and then they wonder why their game sucks!
Training to get your setup accurate and consistent can be done at home, and you don’t need to be anywhere near a range or a golf ball, for that matter. As Ben Hogan said,” You judge your swing by the shape and flight of the ball.”
If you want to hit better golf shots, invest time and money in your setup and swing. You could easily do this twice a week at home without ever striking a ball. The swing is about rhythm, tempo, and balance -the ball is incidental.
If you did this training for just 30 minutes a day for two days a week and found a way to recreate your setup to get you in the correct position to swing, you would achieve far better results in a shorter space of time than hitting 500 shots a day!
Strategy #2: Work on your Short Game.
Why do you think most pros spend more time on their short game than they do hitting long shots on the range? Because they KNOW that this is where the scoring shots are!
According to pgatour.com, the average pro in 2021 had a GIR average of only 65.14% and an FIR average of just 60.69%, Which means that for every ten greens aimed at, only 6,5 were hit, and only 6 out of 10 fairways were hit!
So the very best on tour had an average 35%-40% error margin on their full swing shots. But they still manage to shoot sub-par rounds; why? Because their short game is so good! Take a leaf out of their book.
How often did we see Tiger smash drives left and right of the fairway and then land next to or short of the green and still manage birdies and pars? Because he KNEW that the short game is where the shots are!
There are only fourteen fairways on any standard par 72 course, so why invest time in an activity that constitutes the minority of the shots played?
Want to play better? Put time and training into your short game!
How many balls should you hit in a day? For the short game (including putting), double the amount of shots on the range! So if 60 is the number on the range, then 120 should be the number on the chipping and putting greens!
Strategy #3: Take the Time to Stretch and Warm-up
You will NEVER see a pro golfer arrive 15 minutes before tee-off, swing his arms a few times, make a few practice swings, and then tee off! This is DEATH for your game. YOU NEED to be warm before you play.
You will never see a pro golfer arrive for a training session and go straight into hitting full swing shots! They will start with chipping first and then graduate to the full swing shots with SHORT clubs before hitting the longer clubs and finish with the driver LAST!
At best, you’ll only swing your driver fourteen times, while your mid and short irons will be used a lot more! So why hit 100 shots with a driver and half that amount with your irons? Start slow and work your way up.
Start with getting the feel of the ball off the clubface BEFORE you try and ‘De Chambeau’ it over the back fence at the range.
The golf swing uses many muscle groups, which need to be warm and stretched before revving them to redline! Warming up and stretching before swinging at 100% will help you hit better shots and, more importantly, reduce the risk of injury.
Strategy #4 – Make Your Practise Swings Count!
When it comes to the practice swing, DO NOT follow the pro golfers! You have not spent a large portion of your life dedicated to understanding the intricate details of your golf swing – they have.
That’s why when you watch them play, their practice swing is more of them reminding themselves of what to do and not making a full swing before executing their shot.
Since you are not at that level, you need to make your practice swing the same as your actual swing! There is no point in making a 50% practice swing before you hit your shot – make the same swing on your practice swing as you want to make on your shot!
The same goes for your short game. Make your chipping and putting practice swing the same swing as your actual stroke- PRACTICE LIKE YOU PLAY.
The beauty of this strategy is that it calms your mind and gives you the confidence to proceed with the actual swing. By making a full swing as a practice swing, you don’t have to worry about your alignment
So many amateur players dismiss the practice swing as inconsequential, but in truth, the opposite is true. You see, your body can replicate an action almost precisely within a few seconds after doing it.
So, go through the pre-shot process of alignment and setup and execute the practice swing EXACTLY as you want your actual shot to be. Then repeat it the same way when you execute.
Want to play better? Change your thinking.
Tip: make your practice swing on the same ball line as you would your actual swing! Then you can walk up, set up, and execute without having to reset alignment and so remove any doubt or hesitation before you swing!
How Many Balls Should You Hit In A Day?
That question should be, how many swings should I make in a day? By taking the ball out of the equation and focusing on your swing mechanics, you can improve your consistency and ball striking simply by working on the feel of your swing instead of smashing balls mindlessly at the range.
How many SWINGS should you make in a day? About 60. Of the 14 clubs in your bag, Swing your driver the least and swing the clubs you use the most more.
This type of training is far more similar to the actual playing conditions you’d find on a golf course, and doing this will be far more beneficial and effective in improving your game overall.
If you can go to the range, go with the mindset to make every swing count. Don’t start your practice by hitting balls; start by taking yourself to the chipping and putting greens and put in the work there. Sixty chips and sixty putts should do it and make the practice swing before each shot.
Once you are done on your short game, then move to the range. By now, you should be well warmed up. Start with your sand wedge or lob wedge, gradually work through your clubs, and hit the driver last. Again, take your time to create your pre-shot routine and take care with your setup. Make the practice swings before hitting each shot, the same as you’d do on the course.
Tip: Pick targets for each swing. Don’t simply hit balls aimlessly downrange. Create a game in your mind where you aim for specific target greens or ‘imaginary’ fairways, and if you want to make it count – score yourself for every target hit. It’s a great way to practice as you play!
How many balls should you hit in a day? If you have no purpose or plan in doing so, then the answer is none.
But, if your goal is really to improve your game and play better golf, then use this formula – however many full swing shots you hit, hit double the amount in your short game!
If you practice as you play and make every swing count, your game will go from strength to strength, and you will start shooting better scores and enjoying your golf again and for a lot less time than eight hours a day!
And why? Because golf is a game of quality over quantity, and doing the RIGHT things less is much better than doing the wrong things more!