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Three Great Practice Games to Help You Play Better Golf Under Pressure

By Abby Parsons, PGA
Published on

We've all been to the driving range and walked off feeling like we struck it well enough to play our best.
But then there you are, walking off of the last hole and question if you should ever play golf again.
We all have dropped a few balls on the practice green and drained every putt left and right, then on the first hole played, we three putt. Why is this?

Practicing how to score, even when you are not on the golf course, will help you when you are on the golf course. Here are a few games/routines that will help you practice your scoring when you're at the range.
Target Practice
Let’s start with something simple. It is very easy to head to the range and just pound golf balls without aiming at anything. It can feel like you are hitting it straight, but are you set up square?
When we are on the golf course we are always aiming at something. When you are on the range, be sure to pick out targets for each and every shot. This will help your alignment and help set you up to practice more with a purpose.
To add an extra sense of being on the golf course, try to implement your pre-shot routine as much as possible for your shots. You will start to see your alignment and dispersion improve on the golf course!
Practicing your putting and chipping by dropping a bunch of balls and hitting them one after the other is great, but how is it helping your scoring?
Set up “stations” (place a tee in the ground to mark the spot) all around the chipping area with different lies, grasses or even in the bunker. Place three balls at each station. Your goal is to hit the three balls (one station at a time) and get “up-and-down” two out of three times from every spot. That means, you must hit it on to the green (or chip it in) and one putt the ball into the hole to count as an “up-and-down.”
Once you score a two or better 2 out of the 3 times at a station, you may move onto the next station. You cannot move on until you have completed the challenge.

This helps you practice scoring, pressure situations, and your short game.
Play the Course on the Range
If you’re prepping for a tournament, event or even teeing it up with your friends, it is beneficial to practice visualizing shots and executing them.

Create a fairway on the driving range. Use whatever club you would use on that hole and try to hit it on your imaginary fairway. Visualize the shot-shape and where you want to land it. From there, imagine where that would have landed in relation to your fairway/to the hole. Choose your approach-shot club and visualize the green and where you would land it. Make sure to do your pre-shot routine for every shot.
Continue creating your own fairways and greens for “18 holes” to gain confidence in your mental game, and golf swing on the golf course.

Use any of these games the next time you practice, and start seeing your scoring confidence go up and your scoring go lower!