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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 shots.

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 score.
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┬Čably 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.