GOLF TAB -From beginning golfer to touring professional, the sure-fire way to improve your golf game can be summed up in one word -- practice. Make that three words: practice, practice, practice.

Practice changes bad habits and forms good ones. Practice reduces your score and your frustration on the course because it instills the confidence you need to play your best golf. That's why it is absolutely essential you learn the proper way to practice.

Proper practice isn't about mindlessly banging your way through a bucket of balls. It's about devoting the time to an improvement routine and then sticking to that routine. A proper practice routine covers every aspect of golf from full swings to putts.

Here are some practice tips to help you develop a routine that prepares you for success on the course:

Driving range

Bring a full bag of clubs to your practice facility. Stretch, twist and turn your body to loosen your muscles. Begin your hitting on the range with chip shots. Move to half wedge shots, then to full wedge swings when your body feels flexible enough.


Take five to eight shots with your higher-numbered irons. Hit the irons that match-up with the yardage markers for the day. If your facility's markers don't change, hit odd-numbered irons one practice session and even the next.

Hit five to eight shots with each fairway wood. Finish with your driver, limiting the number of drives to 10.

Throughout your range routine, you can ingrain swing changes with four simple guidelines: 1) place clubs on the ground as alignment aids; 2) take two or three practice swings before every ball you hit; 3) focus on the position and motion of your swings; and 4) spend an equal amount of swing preparation time on each ball in your bucket.

Chipping green and bunkers

Spend at least 25 percent of your practice time on your short-iron game. Vary the length of your chip shots, as well as the clubs you use to hit the shots. Also, hit at least 10 sandshots.

Putting green

Devote at least 25 percent of your practice routine to putting. Sinking putt after putt builds confidence, so don't leave the practice green until you're making the majority of your putts.

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