Consistent Golf: Do I Need to Practice or Play More?

Many golfers trying to play more consistent golf and lower their handicap ask themselves, "Do I need to practice or play more?" It's a great question. However, the answer is "it depends". 

There is only one question that you need to ask yourself when deciding between play and practice. What is plaguing my game the most right now? 

How to Know if You Need More Time on the Course

Let's say you have been to the range a few times over the last week or two. You are out there striping your driver and hitting your irons well. But then you get to the first tee on Saturday morning and everything seems to fall apart. 

You are left in that awkward situation where you have to tell your friends "I don't know what happened. I was hitting it so good on the range."

If this is you, the answer is that your on-course play is plaguing your game. You don't need to practice on the range to get better. You know you can go there and hit all of the shots that you need. Your biggest problem is transferring that to the course.  

The solution to this is simple. You NEED to play more. If you are not able to play a full round or even 9 holes, maybe you can sneak out late in the evening and play 4 holes. It doesn't really matter, to be honest, you just need to play more on the course. 

The reasoning is really simple. When you are on the course you get put into real-life scenarios that change how you will need to play. You are no longer on a perfectly flat surface with no trees or bunkers to concern yourself with. Every tiny change in the environment will affect your swing. 

Is the ball above or below your feet? Is it a downhill or uphill lie? Is there a tree you need to punch under or get up and over? Do you need to carry water or a bunker? What about the wind? 

These are all scenarios that are impossible to execute on the range when the outcome doesn't matter as it does on the course. You simply need to play more. 

How to Know if You Need More Time Practicing

Now, what if you are playing well on the course except for a specific part of your game? Maybe you are out of rhythm with your swing which is causing a slice with your driver. Or maybe you are like me and struggling with your putter. 

If anything like that is the case, then yes, you need to practice more and work on your mechanics. Maybe you even need to hire a golf coach for a single session to see if there is a particular movement in your swing that needs some correcting. 

Maybe your putting stroke has gotten a little quick or your green reading ability needs some work. Both of those things can be practiced and improved upon. 

Essentially, it is easy to determine if you need more practice. If there is a specific thing, like a slice, you are seeing on the golf course, you need to go work that out on the range. 

That is really all there is to this practice or play conversation. If you are hitting it well on the range but not on the course. You need to play more. If there is something specific happening on the course, you need to practice.