The worst feeling in golf? Hitting from the same spot twice. Anytime this happens we know that a bad shot has occurred. One of the things that makes golf so fun and interesting is the variety of shots you hit in a round and how different courses require different shots and styles. Unfortunately, our practice doesn’t even come close to mirroring this strategy. When baseball players are taking BP they hit off a pitcher who is throwing different pitches each time, rarely are they using a hitting tee to practice before a game. Quarterbacks don’t practice by throwing at standing targets, they practice throwing to receivers on the move. Golfers though, are different, we stand in the same place, hitting to the same target, until we are satisfied with the shot. This practice has almost no resemblance to how the game is actually played and therefore has almost no benefit to your golf game.
The worst innovation to golf practice was the range picker, as soon as golfers didn’t need to pick up their own shots practice became far less effective. When it is easier for a golfer to stand in one spot and measure the effectiveness of their practice in the amount of shots hit the likelihood of repetition skyrockets. The reason that repetition is so ineffective is that we make micro-adjustments to each shot when we hit the same one over and over. We as humans are always trying to do better so when one shot misses we will subconsciously make tiny adjustments to improve on that shot. The problem with this is that because we only get one chance at each shot on the course we aren’t getting an accurate understanding of how our swing is performing and its tendencies. This repetition lures us into a false sense of improvement because the ball is landing closer to the target, but that improvement will never last more than a few moments. When we are practicing we want to make sure that any improvements we make stay with us for more than just that range session.
Next time you are at the range never hit more than 5 shots in a row at a target or with the same club. This practice is a little more time-consuming and a lot more frustrating but the benefits are great. By constantly mixing up your shot selection you will see trends develop of what your miss is, the small adjustments you make will have to be made quickly and therefore you can start to understand them more on the course. Most importantly you will be in a much more game-like situation where each shot matters because there is not an unlimited amount of redos if the shot doesn’t go according to plan. Feel free to hit as many shots as you want in your total practice, just change up the shot choice from time to time, it's a lot more fun this way.