The definition of golf is to get the ball in the hole in the least number of shots possible. To that end, you have 14 tools (clubs) at your disposal.
This latest bit of advice from PGA Professional Rob Labritz is going to dial you in to each one of those tools and help you understand that each one of your clubs is like an adjustable wrench -- it's not meant for just one type of shot, but multiple shots from a variety of distances with a variety of trajectories.
So, how do you accomplish that? For this practice, Labritz says you'll need to move away from the driving range, chipping area and practice green and over to the course itself.
Have you ever heard a PGA Professional say, "don't hit balls, hit shots?" That's the purpose of this.
"I want you to go out and play a round with just 2-3 clubs, including your putter, and play from the forward tees," Labritz said. "You can use whichever three you'd like, but for those trying this for the first time, I would recommend a mid-to-long iron, a wedge and a putter. You're going to play all 18 holes with just those three clubs. The less clubs you carry, the more creative you'll get forced to be."
The point of this, Labrtiz explained, is to help you learn how to manufacture golf shots.
"It takes away that idea of, 'I have to hit this club from this distance,' and brings in your ball-striking skills and shot-making ability," he said. "Let's say one of your three clubs is an 8-iron, a club you maybe typically hit 140 yards. But, you're 100 yards away. You're going to have to work on how to hit that 8-iron from 100 yards while controlling the distance you want it to travel, the trajectory and the amount of roll out it has once it hits the ground."
Don't get frustrated. When you start out, it's almost a sure thing you're not going to hit it exactly as you'd like. That's why it's called, "practice."
If there is just one thing to focus on with each of these shots, however, Labritz says it's to pay attention to holding your finish. You know when you see your favorite Tour player holding the pose at the end of a gorgeous swing? Yeah, they're not just doing that for the cameras.
"Holding your finish does a couple of things," Labritz said. "One, it provides you a good look at your shot and allows your brain to accept the shot -- good or bad. You're not learning anything when you give up on the finish. Holding that finish teaches you just as much what to do as what not to do. And two, if you're holding that finish it means you're in balance -- in balance at address, at impact and then the finish."
Also with this drill, you're going to teach yourself how far you can hit a shot with a certain club with a 1/4 swings, 1/2 swings and 3/4 swings. Imagine how much easier that will make it for you the next time you play a round with all your clubs.
How nice will it be when you're faced with that 140-yard shot with an 8-iron, but there's a tree branch in the way and then you realize, "hey, I can hit my 6-iron 140 yards and much lower, so that branch won't even be a factor?"
"At that point," Labritz said, "you're dialed in."
Along with creativity, shot-making and ball-striking, there's one more valuable lesson this on-course practice is going to teach you, which is most important of all.
"It makes your brain think more about how to play the golf course than about executing a golf swing," Labritz said. "At the end of the day, the ultimate goal is to play the course in the least amount of shots possible."
Rob Labritz, who has played in four PGA Championships (he was low-Club Professional in 2010 at Whistling Straits), is currently the Director of Golf at GlenArbor Golf Club in BedFord Hills, N.Y. He was also the PGA Met Section Player of the Year in 2008 and 2013, as well as the Westchester Golf Association's Player of the Year in 2002, 2003, 2008, 2013 and 2015. You can learn more about Labritz at www.RobLabritz.com and you can follow him on Twitter, @Rlabritz.