Golf practice should first and foremost be fun. Unless you are competing on television on the weekends, golf is an activity you choose because it brings enjoyment. If the sport isn’t bringing enjoyment any more because the practice is terrible the chances you continue to play are slim. Golf practice being fun is paramount because it creates an activity that you will keep coming back to. Make the practice pleasurable and it becomes a habit, that habit brings in compounding gains that make playing more and more fun because the scores get lower and lower. Just because practice is fun does not mean that it should be easy or simple, the key to improvement is finding enjoyment in doing the difficult things that lead to improvement.
Finding ways to make practice difficult and fun is an artform that we can look outside of golf for inspiration. One of the activities that blends difficulty with fun better than any other is games. Videogames are beautifully crafted to balance difficulty and fun, its what keeps people playing for hours and hours in single sessions and what gets people to play one game for months at a time. Videogames use specific techniques that we can implement in our practice to make difficult practice more fun. The first and most important is balancing skill and difficulty in challenges. In every videogame the levels are designed to begin with teaching you a skill or technique through playing the level, then at the end there is a boss to test how well you have learned that skill. In golf we can set skill challenges for us that we continually increase the difficulty in as we get better and better. This constant testing and challenging of our skill is a fantastic way to turn practice into a fun game that challenges us to improve our golf game.
When most golfers go to practice they get a bucket of balls and wack them into the driving range without a great understanding of what a good or bad shot is. We hit a 7 iron at a target and see if it lands close, but is the player understanding how that shot fits into their average proximity? In videogames a player always understands where they stand within the game, the health monitor or the coins collected gives players a quick look to see if they are doing good or bad. In practice if we set clear goals and boundaries we can then instantly understand if our performance is good or bad and we can make adjustments accordingly. This understanding of performance with a scoring system gives a player a feeling of control over their practice, they can begin to clearly see if the practice is benefitting them or not. Adding these two elements to your practice can make that hour at the range one that you look forward to and clearly shows improvement, not just a necessary grind with the hope of improvement