When you are practicing you want to try to put yourself out on the course, think of the shot as though you are actually out playing. Say you have a seven iron in your hand and you are aiming for a flag, you first want to visualize the shot that your are hitting. You could be practicing a draw shot on this day, so you want to visualize the ball starting off 5 to 10 yards right of the target and see it drawing into the flag. Then you want to get into your pre-shot routine, step up there and execute the shot.
Many golfers just go out to the range and start hitting golf balls with no plan and nothing to work on. As Jack Nicklaus said, “practice for a purpose and get away from it.” What he is saying here is you want to have something intentional that you want to work on before you go out and practice, work on it and when you feel comfortable with that aspect of the game or that shot step away from it and do something else.
One key to success for many of the great players is that they make their practice sessions challenging by practicing a shot which is difficult them. For example, a mid-iron or long-iron shot from a bunker is a difficult shot in general. So, what you want to do if this shot is difficult is start off with a 7-iron out of the bunker and try to hit clean. Once you have done that consistently 10 times, then move to a 5-iron and finally try a 3-iron. Now, don’t be hard on yourself if you can’t make it past your 7-iron at first. This will take time and practice. Over time, you will develop the skills to be able to hit your 3-iron clean out of the bunker. If you don’t have a 3-iron, then try your hybrid club out of the bunker.
A final thought on making practice challenging for yourself is to try to find an old 2 or 1 iron and practice with that club once or twice a week. I know that we have moved on in golf because of technology, but it was not that long ago that we were playing with 2 and 1 irons. Not only will you appreciate how the pros use to play and hit great shots with these clubs, but by hitting these clubs it will make it seem even easier to hit the hybrids most people now use.