Running a high school golf practice is no easy task. A coach will have players of various skill levels which can make it tricky to figure out how to best serve each individual player. Provided here are a few ideas on best ways to organize, run and get the most out of a high school golf practice.
Know your Players
A high school golf team can range from two to 22 players, so it is crucial that you get to know each player on your team, their golf background, skill level and their goals for the season. Before the season even starts, ask your players what their goals are or what they are hoping to accomplish this season. Is it breaking 90? Breaking 80? Improving a short game? Being on the all-state team? This knowledge can help a coach understand how much time and instruction each team member will require. You can create a detailed practice plan for each player if you clearly understand their wants and goals for the season.
Have a weekly plan in place for your practices. Rather than just sending your team out to play nine holes, set a short game plan for each day. On Monday, the focus can be short putts and lag putting. Tuesday can shift toward chipping and shots 100 yards and in. Wednesday puts a premium on long irons and accuracy off the tee on the range. If your team is on the range for practice, check out these tips on how to have a productive driving range session. No matter what you do, have your team practice with a purpose on any given day.
An easy way to understand your players weaknesses is to keep track of stats. My high school coach personally used a log book and we would mark how many fairways, greens, putts, etc. we had during a high school tournament allowing us to better weak parts of our game. 18Birdies is a great option for your team to use to track stats, round history and goal setting for rounds digitally. This can be a simple way for an individual player to measure their strengths, weaknesses and progress they are making each week in practice.
Have daily and weekly goals
If a player is struggling with a certain part of his or her game, have that be their main focus for the coming week. An example would be if a player is struggling with their putting, implement some drills. A short putting drill could be setting four balls down from approx. 3-5 feet and having the player make 20 putts in a row at each of the four locations before going on to another station. Similarly, if a player was struggling with a driver, focus should be at the range or an open hole on your home course, and a drill could be getting 10 balls in a row in the fairway.
Seek help when needed
Not every high school golf coach will be a expert on the golf swing, and that’s okay. Take advantage of the great PGA and LPGA certified pros that are around your area. If you are lucky enough to have a home course with a certified pro, incorporating them into practice a couple times a month can be a huge boost for your players. Many pros will be happy to work out a deal with you and the team to help with lessons and instructions.
Create a team environment
Part of the reason why high school golf is unique is that it’s the first and potentially only time junior golfers will be part of a team. So how can you make the most of this and ensure everyone does their part? Assign captain and co-captains to your team, assign them the responsibility of obtaining stats after a tournament or helping set up or take down drill stations before or after practice. The best players on your team need to take a leadership role and help some of the lesser experienced team members. An idea would be pairing some of the top performers with the younger players once a week, creating a win-win for the less experienced players getting better and helping the advanced players with their leadership skills.
Keep it fun
We all want to win and be competitive, however, for many high school golfers, this may be the first time they experience golf on a competitive level. In your practices, keep it competitive, yet fun. Here are a few easy drills that can be done individually or with a teammate:
Lag-putting drills – pick two holes on the putting green more than 30 feet away (breaking, uphill, downhill) how many 2-putts can you make in a row?
Short putting drills – Put 4 balls down approx. 3-5 feet from the hole – try to make 5 putts putts in a row from each location until you move onto the next, in total making 20 putts. Make a contest against your teammate to see who can reach the goal the quickest.
Chipping games – Play Horse! Yes, just like the basketball game. You and a teammate pair up, and go to various locations around the green, the one who hits the chip the farthest away, gets a letter.
Driving Range sessions – Play the course that you have next for a tournament on the range – grab the scorecard and go through each shot as you would play it in the event. This can help with visualization of golf shots and execution under pressure.
On course sessions – Pair with a few teammates and play a match. You can do a two man best ball (I would recommend pairing the best and least experienced player together) against two others and count the low score from the two players and you can have a fun yet competitive 9 hole match.
I hope the above information and ideas will be helpful to you and your coaching staff this fall on running successful and meaningful golf practices