As golfers should we be learning to play or playing to learn?
Think back to when you first started to play golf. Where did you start and perhaps more importantly why did you start?
Chances are your first ever experience of this great game was on a driving range, or if you were lucky, a golf course. Why did you start? You will all have your own reasons and one of the best things you can possibly do in order to enjoy your golf is to stay true to those reasons.
I say lucky if it was a golf course because that is where you really learn to play golf. Yes you can learn how to hit the ball and learn a few different shots on a driving range but the golf course is where you can really learn how to play the game.
Driving ranges are great and have their place but every shot you hit on a range will pretty much be from a nice flat lie with the ball sitting up ready to be hit.
However, when we play golf, we are faced with a variety of different shots of different lengths from a variety of different lies. Sometimes the shot will be into the wind, sometimes the wind will be from the left, right or directly behind you. The ball may be above or below the level of your feet. It might be sitting down in a bit in the fairway or deep in the rough, in a bunker or behind a tree.
If all your learning or practice is done on the driving range, it is highly unlikely you will ever have encountered too many of these scenarios. That being the case, you shouldn’t be too surprised if you struggle to play some of these shots on the course.
No one ever learned how to get up and down from a greenside bunker to win the hole or how to put a score together in a competition on the range.
I love on-course coaching as I honestly believe this is where golfers of all standards can make the biggest improvements. Learning how to plot your way round the golf course and how to play a variety of different shots from a variety of different lies in an ever changing environment.
I’m not saying you should avoid the driving range but if you really want to enhance your experience and enjoyment of golf, book yourself a 9 hole playing lesson with a coach who understands the importance of playing to learn.
Next time you put your clubs in the boot of your car, ask yourself if it is possible that playing to learn might just be the key to unlocking your potential as a golfer and if this concept could enhance your enjoyment and performance?