While we are on this topic of practicing with consequences I thought it was a good time to share one example of how I try and implement these ideas into my daily routine.
One of the best things about this time of year (and, perhaps, the only good thing) is that there is hardly anybody on the course. This is especially true in the evenings and I have found that you can use it to your advantage in practice. During the peak season there is almost always someone right in front of and behind you, but on a cold, rainy day there are times when you are the only person out there. When this is the case, take advantage of it and get some on-course practice time.
Today, I wanted to work on longer (lag) putts because I have been having issues with distance control. What I decided to do was play nine holes, but I was not allowed to move to the next hole until I two-putted (at worst) 5 balls from 35-65 feet away. I took a different line and different break for every putt and had to two-putt 5 consecutive shots before I was allowed to tee off on the next hole. It was pouring down rain and I didn’t have an umbrella, so for all intents and purposes it was not a pleasure cruise out there, but I couldn’t walk off the putting green until all five had been knocked in. On a few holes I hit the first five balls to about a foot and had tap ins, but on some of the more severely breaking greens it was a bit tougher and took some work and time.
What I gained from this experience was variety, randomness and a bit of consequence. Also, it was the end of the day and the light was quickly fading, so I didn’t have time to linger on the greens, putting a bit of pressure on the putting game I had created because I told myself I would finish all nine holes before walking off no matter the light.
This is one example of how I practice on a daily basis. When there is something to learn that does not purely involve mechanics I like to bring it to the course and try to incorporate consequence and randomness. To date I have found that using a variety of settings exponentially increases learning retention. Being on a course and on 9 different greens is a much better way of practicing distance control than spending hours on a putting practice green. That said, you can only do what you can do and if the course is not available then the practice green is still a great place to learn; just try and make it a game and insert as much consequence as possible.
Keep statistics and write down anything you notice during your practice session, too. I often email myself “tips” or thoughts I have during a practice session and that night I look over my emails and write down what I sent myself from the course. There are times where I have already forgotten what I had “learned” that day, but by reading the notes and writing them down I can concrete them into my memory. Today I realized that I have a harder time controlling distance of long left to right breaking putts than right to left breakers. Now I know what to work on tomorrow..