Improving Your Golf Game: Quality Versus Quantity

Everyone I know plays golf to either fun, exercise and to improve. I guess this is a pretty simple approach to this amazing sport and very golfers fall outside these categories. Actually, many use all three as motivation to hit the links on a regular basis. Over the years, we have discussed many barriers to why we struggle with improving, but most of those seem to break down to the time available to play or practice. I can appreciate this challenge which is why I was thinking about whether we use our precious time appropriately to effectively improve our game. Hence the thought of quality versus quantity as an important discussion for many golfers.

Now that I am semi-retired (forgetting my current health issues) I have more opportunity to practice and play. Time is a precious commodity that is traded unwittingly for very little value. Of course each person has to place their own value on what is important, but I have found I can easily carve out 30 minutes each day to focus on golf. Unfortunately, in the past I have convinced myself that this is not near enough time to ‘get into something’; I need more time to effectively improve my game. So, I chose not to use those 30 minutes on my game and as a result my improvement was slow. This is where I was confused between the importance of quality versus quantity when applying time towards improving my golf game.

About 5 years ago, I made the mental change to use my time to improve my golf game. I actually sat down and wrote out some golf goals (many were related on this site) and figured out a plan. I have continued that practice and recently realized that my plan can be broken down further (gotta love a detailed golf plan) into how much time I need to spend on each activity.

Before I delve a bit deeper, I always try to leave a practice session honing one skill or another, but sometimes this improvement takes a bit of time and as such quality and quantity are intertwined, yet separate. Confused yet, well hopefully this clears things up.

First, lets examine quantity. To improve certain skills more time is needed to improve. There is no replacement for repeating a specific movement until it becomes second nature. Areas where more time is needed breaks down as follows:

  • learning a new skill
  • changing a core or fundamental skill
  • introducing a new club into your bag

As you can see, more time (quantity) is required when making changes to your game. This is were many people need to devote 30 minutes to an hour repeating the same action to ‘groove’ an acceptable swing movement. Sometimes multiple sessions are required to achieve the desired results.

Conversely, quality use of time focuses on other areas of your game. Less than 30 minutes, usually between 10 and 20 minutes, allows of quality training. During this period, I am focus on improving a specific skill I already developed. This is not the time to change anything but to hone. Where quality use of time is effective is:

  • putting – honing aiming and distance control
  • chipping – using all wedges with an establish swing
  • hitting clubs on range – working on tempo and full swing movements

From the short list above, you notice I did not use the word change or introduce. The skills practice during quality practice time are already established. We are honing our skills to improve our effectiveness. Carving out some time for quality practice is important and can be effective for even 15 minutes a day.

Hank Haney says: “There’s no way to avoid the work that comes with building a good swing, but the best way to create a great base for improvement is to make 100 practice swings with an iron every day. You don’t need a ball, and you can do them in your living room in front of the TV.”

I actually think Ben Hogan may have said this first, but the point is to work on your game a bit each day (quality) will increase the amount overall (quantity) actual practice time. It is a simple process and one that I subscribe too. Moving forward, I plan to immediately adopt this method of practice because of the amount of time I missed this year. I think this will be the quickest way to regain all parts of my gain.

The quantity versus quality debate is really a red herring. Both are required and have their purpose. Many of us have limited free time so applying the proper quantity or quality practice time will benefit our game. It is a matter of determining our goals and focusing on honing or changing. I guess the bottom line is that they are all connected.

What area of your game are you focusing on? Are you using quantity or quality time to improve?

I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!

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10 thoughts on “Improving Your Golf Game: Quality Versus Quantity

  1. When we had the net set up in the neighbors backyard, quantity wasn’t an issue. But I do believe quality was for both my neighbor and myself. While I was able to groove a nice draw swing at the time, my failure the grip the club correctly held me back. And my neighbor had trouble seeing that he was grooving a slice swing with his work hitting into the net. Neither of us spent enough time working with our short irons or our putters, so we didin’t get the full benefit we should have considering all the time we put in. At the time, we never realized that though. We were enjoying ourselves, so what little progress we did make seemed fine. It’s only in retrospect that I can see we didn’t really make great use of the time we put in.

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    • Kevin

      You hit the nail on the head. There is a requirement to know what results we expect or see from practice. Grooving poor swing is disheartening for sure. I am glad you noticed your challenge and were able to head it off. There is so much keep track off! Thanks for weighing in.

      Cheers Jim

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  2. Jim, for me it’s mostly quality. My time is spent repairing and honing. Not enough time for learning and adding. That will have to do for now.
    Thanks and glad to hear you are attempting to get out this Fall!
    Brian

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  3. Jim,

    You’re absolutely right with this piece and Hank Haney’s 100 swings a day is one of the easiest ways to build a consistent, effective swing in my opinion.

    Glad you still get a chance to write about golf even if you can’t be playing all the time, hope your health keeps holding up.

    Best,
    Sully

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