Don't Practice Strengths
The 25th Secret
There are a number of errors of practice which lead to inefficiency. A common one occurs when a golfer practices
the very shot with which he has the greatest skill.
How could such an apparently obvious mistake be prevalent? Here are a few reasons:
1. Because a golfer can make a given shot, he derives more pleasure from
practicing it than a shot which continually causes him anguish.
2. He may not have the courage to make a public display of his weak
3. The good shot he is practicing may have been a weak shot at one time, and
he has allowed a good idea to become a somewhat unreasonable fixed idea through simple habit.
4. Poor form can force a golfer to practice strengths excessively and
incorrectly. It is possible for a person to get good results by excessive practice of a weak
technique. I saw an example of this by a player who was very successful in using lofted clubs close to the green,
when a less lofted club was indicated. Although he did very well with his shot, he attained this by excessive
practice which could have been better apportioned to his putting, which was only fair.
Practice alone is insufficient. It is inextricably tied to form. If the form is poor, practice will hopelessly
fixate that form. Each form has its upper limits beyond which practice runs into a disproportionately low
improvement for a given amount of time. It is vital, therefore, that the golfer undertake a ceaseless quest for
good form, and get it as early in his instruction as he can.
5. He may make the error of not understanding the law of diminishing
returns. This simply means that it can be dangerous to try to become "too good" with any given club.
There comes a point in every shot at which additional practice does not produce an equivalent improvement in the
A concrete example of the application of this is the following: The problem to be solved is that when you are off
the green you are taking three and four to get down instead of two. There are several solutions. With the first,
you can practice putting until you learn to get down in one. With the second, you can practice chipping until you
are so accurate that it always leaves a "gimme." The third, which is the most efficient, would be to practice
chipping and putting together until you could reason¬ably be expected to go down in two. The first two "solutions"
would require excessive practice. Billy Casper and Paul Runyan are two examples of golfers who have drawn big
dividends from a selective investment of practice time by concentrating on their short game. However, this does not
mean that the short game should be practiced ad infinitum. After a good short game has been stabilized, an analysis
of your play may well show diminishing returns from such practice, and the time will then have come to attack other
weaknesses that are revealed to be more costly.
6. Still another common error, which we have indicated previously by implication,
is that a person is not practicing his true weakness. He may be practicing what is only
apparently a weakness. To establish the weakness with the first priority on his time, it is necessary for him to
analyze his records.