Golf Swing Tip – Practicing Golf or Playing Golf, Which is the Faster Path to Better Play?

A golf swing tip which correctly addresses this topic would be invaluable.


Because all golfers, especially amateurs, want to make the best use of their time spent working to improve their golf game. So which method, practice or play, offers golfers the greatest return on their investment?

The reality is no one particular golf swing tip holds the answer to this question but, there is a consensus of opinion among golf professionals that, all things being equal, a larger benefit results from practice.

Not to say a golf swing tip addressing this topic of practice vs. play is unreliable or worthless. A golf swing tip which speaks to this question can still provide valuable insight and direction on the manner and method a golfer should practice.

In the book, “The Winning Touch in Golf, A Psychological Approach” author Peter G. Cranford, Ph.D. offers one such golf swing tip of his own – an expert opinion on the matter of practice vs. play. He explains it is through “concentrated practice” that golfers have the greatest chance to achieve their highest potential.

Cranford writes;

“The greatest pleasure in golf comes from continuous improvement. This can only come about through correct practice. For those who aspire to creditable play, practice is doubly necessary. “Creditable play” implies a competitive element, in that one’s ability becomes “creditable” if it is more skillful than that of others. Other things being equal, the practicer has the advantage…

In general, the great practicers have led the field…

…We now have “practicers” in great profusion. Golf achievement at the highest level is virtually impossible without it. It is a necessity at the amateur level even if one’s ambitions are relatively modest.

Since this is true, it is to the advantage of the would-be champion gradually to build up the length of his practice sessions. If they are aiming high, the amount should compare favorably with the hours found necessary in other sports or enterprises involving expert use of muscles. Many singers, violinists, pianists, and other musicians must devote several hours to practice each day, year in and year out. Ice-skating, the ballet, basketball, dancing—in short, anything that involves the training of muscles to a high degree of expertness requires daily practice over a considerable period of time.

Since much of the time in the playing of a round is consumed with walking, talking, and waiting, very little can be learned by playing 18 holes. In a par round of 72, there are 14 drives, perhaps 4 other wood shots, 18 iron shots, and some 36 chips and putts. This requires a time investment of about 4 hours. During practice, a similar number of shots can be hit in 30 minutes. It is thus considerably less time-consuming to learn through practice than through play.

There are some golfers who have become good players without devoting much time to concentrated practice. However, if their golfing career is examined, it will generally be found that they did considerably more playing than the average person. It must be admitted that, shot for shot, one can learn more golf by playing 85 separate shots in a round than by practicing an equal number. This must be true psychologically because, in playing, we are “practicing” precisely the shots the game requires, whereas when we putt on the practice green there is the great danger that we are not duplicating true “playing” conditions. Still, if we are careful to practice the shots called for in the analysis of our mistakes, much more can be learned in four hours of practice than in four hours of play.

The ideal would be to have four hours of practice that exactly duplicated four hours of play. I know of an amateur who did almost precisely this. He lived in a city that had a municipal course which was not kept in good shape, and hence rules about practice were non-existent. The golfer got two caddies, eighteen balls, and an electric golf cart. For 30 mornings prior to the tournament he was entered in, he played eighteen balls for nine holes. In the tournament he made the best showing of his golfing career.

What practice can accomplish is indicated by the following: I have heard of two instances of exceptionally good first rounds. One young lady shot an 85 from men’s tees on a demanding course. She had taken lessons and practiced for two years before ever going out on the links. A young man who had a job at a driving range shot a 76 on a standard course on his first round, after having practiced for a little more than a year. It is not likely that either one of them would have done nearly as well if the same amount of time had been spent in play that was 99% waiting and walking and 1% hitting the ball”.

Practice is the faster way to better golf!

Try taking Cranford’s golf swing tip into consideration when designing your practice routine.

Check back soon for more golf swing tip articles and posts!

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