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4 Golf Practice Routines to Lower Your Scores

The key to improving your golf is to practice and to practice well. However, having enough time to practice and knowing what to practice is tricky. In this article we’ll cover three weekly golf practice routines you can use based on your ability and how much time you have you have to invest in your golf game.

We’ll also look at how to practice if you are a college player or pro (or if you want to practice like one). If you want more skills games to add to your practice routine and a way to track your progress check out the Golf Insider Performance Diary.

Golf notebook header
The Golf Insider Performance Diary gives you some great practice games and a simple way to track your progress.

Each practice routine contains a blend of technical practice and skill development. If you want to geek out over how to optimise your golf practice, check out this golf practice article, or for a specific driving range routine check out this article. If not, click on the links below take you to your preferred golf practice routine.

Golf practice routine – 1 hour a week

Life can get busy, but I still believe you can keep getting better with a 1 hour golf practice routine, if it is effective.

Your key goals within the hour are to:

  1. Keep your basics in order – grip, alignment & posture.
  2. Learn to control your ball flight with longer clubs.
  3. Practice some putting and chipping.

Points one and two can be achieved at a golf range or practice ground. Simply lay a golf clubs or alignment sticks on the ground as shown in the video below. This practice structure ensures you don’t stray away from a good set up.

Using this set up, try playing a skills game that covers all the clubs in your bag. The simplest and most comprehensive is Hugo’s range challenge:

Hugo’s range challenge

To set up Hugo’s range challenge pick two targets on the range, or in the distance, that are 20-yards apart. This is your target zone – don’t worry about distance control during this game, your focus is on reducing your lateral error.

Begin with the shortest club in your bag (a wedge of some sort) and aim to land the ball within your target zone. If you land it within your target zone, move onto your next shortest club in your bag (a pitching-wedge), next a 9-iron… Follow this process until you finish the game with your driver. If you miss the target zone (left or right), repeat with the same club until you are successful.

14 clubs (minus your putter) means 13 stages to complete. Measure how many clubs you can get through with your 40 balls. A little tip – this game starts really simple, but just wait until you get to your long-irons and woods.

This first task should take up around 40 minutes of your golf practice routine.

Once you have completed your swift range session there are two more essential areas to cover within your hour practice routine. Golf putting and chipping. These practices can be fitted into another two 10-minute slots.

Golf putting practice routine

Golf putting is similar to your long game. You need an effective 10-minute practice routine one evening to keep your grip, posture and alignment in place.

I suggest you create your own version of this putting drill to play at home (having it at home gives you no excuses to complete it). Or you can mock up something similar on your golf club’s putting green.

You can also read this article for more great putting drills.

The key point of this drill are two-fold:

  1. It keeps your basics in order.
  2. If you keep a score (I used to count how many putts I hit my target in a row), it will build your putting confidence in very little time.

Chipping practice routine

Lastly up in your hour practice routine is chipping. The following drill can be adapted to almost any chipping or putting green. It can also be completed in 5-10 minutes before or after your round each week.

Use it to work on the key shots that you face during a round. Or if your chipping is already a strength, focus on a shot you wish to improve. If you can complete 20 shots each week you will be amazed how quickly your chipping will improve.

There you have it. A one hour golf practice routine that will help you improve your golf. Just follow these simple steps each week and remember to track your scores.

Below is a summary for your to screenshot. Click on it to expand the image or download it as a pdf.

Golf practice routine – One hour screenshot

golf practice routine - one hour
An example golf practice routine for playing once with one hour a week practice.

Golf practice routine – 3 hours a week

If you have three hours a week to dedicate to a golf practice routine then lucky you! Here is how I suggest you spend your time.

Use the steps outlined for the one hour golf practice plan, then bolt on the following two areas.

  • One extra hour practicing a key weakness.
  • One hour of practice inside 120-yards.

Once your basics are in place the two points above represent the next easy wins for lowering your golf scores.

Golf practice routine – Finding your weakness

You may already know the one weakness you wish to spend more time on, but if not I’ve got a quick, handy table below to help you decide. If you want to really dive into these areas click this link to check out the full article where this table first appeared. However, below we have the key image to find what areas you should work on within your practice routine.

Start at the top left of the box and work right until you find a box that matches your current performance. This is your key weakness. For example, if you have greater than 36 putts, this is your first area to work on in your practice routine. If you pass this threshold (have less than 36 putts a round) move one box right. If you have an up and down percentage less than 30%, this is your weakness .. you carry on this process until you find the category you currently match.

golf practice chart

On the right hand side you have a mini-strokes gained. Roughly speaking each area that you improve will save you 1 – 2 shots on your score average. Not perfect, but a nice way to link basic stats to your handicap and progress.

Once you have your weakness, grab a skills game that best matches your need from the list below:

Golf practice routine – Putting and short game

Along with the chipping and putting skills game listed above, I would add in a game or two of Par 18 (featured below). This is a brilliant game for realistic short game practice that transfers to the golf course. Try playing it against a friend for a little side-bet to really make it realistic.

Below is an example three-hour weekly practice routine. Click on the image below if you wish to expand it and take a screenshot. In the plan below I’ve added the short game hour after your weekly round. You’ll already be at the golf club so hopefully, this minimises any time constraints.

Golf practice routine – Three hours screenshot

A golf practice routine for players who have 3 hours free a week.
An example golf practice routine for playing once with three hours a week practice.

Golf practice routine – 6 hours a week

If you fit into this box then I’m jealous. Interestingly, the more time you give a golfer to practice, the less efficient they become. I find this is a common problem with pros who have lost their way and are stuck on the mini-tours.

The key to a 6-hour practice routine is to have clear goals and ways of tracking your progress each week. Otherwise, how do you know you’re getting better each week?

Before you begin structuring your 6-hour practice routine have a read of this article explaining the reasons you might not be getting better at golf. It will hopefully give you a clear insight – increased practice volume is useless without good planning, thinking and reflection over every golf shot you hit.

Setting practice goals for your routine

Ensure you keep on top of your basics (setup and alignment) as covered in the one-hour routine, and pick your key weaknesses from the three-hour practice routine section. On top of this give yourself three clear goals every month to structure your practice around. An example might be:

  1. Improve putting from 10-20 feet.
  2. Maintain and refine long game technique.
  3. Improve fairways hit in regulation.

Once you have your goals you can begin to devise a practice routine that targets these areas. For each area of your game you may have a technical aspect to work on, but also ensure you have a weekly skills game in place to track your progress. Visit the articles below to grab some skills games:

It then becomes a game of planning each week, completing the practice and learning, then refining what you do next week. Below is a screenshot of a document I use with my pros to track their practice stats. I have this as a free download at the end of this article.

Within this one document you can plan your practice each week, with a second tab to track your scores for skills games. It is very simple but allows you to track your practice stats over time.

How to track your routine, with stats and graphs.
This shows one of my pro’s golf skill game scores over the off-season 2017-2018.

Golf practice routine – Six hours screenshot

A golf practice routine for players who have 6 hours
Here is an overview of the six-hour golf practice routine. The days and timings are just ideas. Note the little extra time I suggest you dedicate to putting fundamentals (10 ~ 20 minutes).

Pro / college golf practice routine

If you’re reading this section then you’re already a seriously good player. So how do you go from good to great? Well, it is in the thousand 1%’s you can do differently every week. Each week you need to follow the steps above and ensure your practice is challenging and focused.

Golf cannot be purely learned on a practice range, the practice ground just offers you many repetitions to refine a movement. You only know how effective your practice has been once you step onto a golf course.

Use the download below to structure your practice time and track your stats. Then go play and compete as much as you can. If you want to know how this works over an entire year – check out this article on annual golf training programs.

Golf Insider notes: The download above is overkill for most golfers. However, if you are serious, it gives you a template to plan your practice routine every month. Tab one allows you to place your 3 monthly goals at the top of the page, then create a weekly plan of technical practice, skills games and competitions. On the second tab, you have a simple set of charts to set goals and track your practice stats for all skills games. I hope it is of use!

Golf practice routines – Summary

Technique is important in golf, however, no golfer has become great without practice. I hope the practice routines and advice in this article give you an insight into how to structure a practice routine to improve your golf.

A great practice routine is focused no matter how many hours you have a week. If you’re keen to get practicing and want a tool to help you keep track of your practice aims and scores you can grab a copy of the Golf Insider Performance Diary.

If you would like an article like this one emailed to you every Monday, come join the Golf Insider weekly post.

Happy golfing – Will @ Golf Insider UK

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Will Shaw, PhD, MSc, PGA Pro

Will is a PGA golf professional, with a PhD in Biomedical Science and MSc in Sports Biomechanics & Psychology. He spent 10 years lecturing part-time at Leeds Beckett University and the University of Leeds in Biomechanics and Motor Control before becoming the Head of Golf for the University of Exeter. He currently runs Golf Insider UK, Sport Science Insider around wider consulting and academic roles in sport performance and motor control.

8 thoughts on “4 Golf Practice Routines to Lower Your Scores”

    • Thanks Andrew,

      I think I have a little different approach to most, but I’m glad you’re finding it of use.

      Keep up the fine work.


      • What does the gir priority of missing section mean? I thought it would be if your gir is less than 25% and then increasing.

        • Hi Harley,

          Thanks for getting in touch. Apologies this needs updating! I grabbed this image from another article where I was talking about breaking down your misses into:
          1) Short
          2) Long
          3) Left
          4) Right

          The concept is this – if any of these four areas were above 30%, 25%… you should see that as a priority. Ideally this gives you practice more structure than ‘hit more greens!’. For example: If you can see you miss 28% of your greens short, you need to club up on the course and work on strike.

          Thanks for pointing this out. I’ll update this over the weekend. I hope that makes a little more sense.

          Many thanks,


  1. Fantastic article.

    Thank you for publishing. Now I have joined a golf club I will be putting these skills games into practice and using my golf insider performance diary.

  2. Hi, great article. I’m currently in my off season (until March unfortunately) and am looking for things to improve my game when the season roles around again. I dowloaded the excel file with the 4 weeks of schedule. I was wondering if there was description for the games you listed or if they’re only in your book?



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