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May 9, 2014

John Nowobilski: Have Students Divide Practice Balls Into Three Topics

John-Nowobilski-HeadshotJohn Nowobilski, a 2012 inductee into the Connecticut PGA Section Hall of Fame, is the PGA head golf professional at Tallwood Country Club in Hebron, Connecticut.

John Nowobilski on the importance of having students divide practice balls into three topics:
It’s such a common refrain to hear students tell instructors that they hit the ball well on the range but lose that feeling once they get onto the course. As a teacher, I’ve addressed this issue by clearly defining each practice session as one with three sections within it: warm-up, improving ball flight awareness, and playing an imaginary round of golf. The warm-up consists of a dozen balls or so just to get loose. The ball flight awareness is all about practicing what you have worked on in a recent lesson. And the imaginary round of golf is what will help with your transition onto the course. “Playing a round” on the range is nothing new, but I teach my students to let their imagination soar and play the next shot from where they believe it would have ended up. For instance, if they are imagining a drive and end up hitting it where trees would be, I want them to imagine a punch shot off a bare lie. This same concept for improving your concentration by changing the situation is also critical for the putting green; most golfers take out a sleeve of balls, throw them down in the same spot, and don’t putt out. This never happens when we actually play on the course. I urge my students to putt one ball to each hole, with the flag removed, and always putt out. Helping your students on the golf course starts by giving them best practices for preparing for their rounds. It is all about recreating the focus they will need for each individual shot on the course.

John Nowobilski on the business impact of having students divide practice balls into three topics:
By making practice an experience of total pleasure instead of a time to correct mistakes and get frustrated, I have been able to really improve as an instructor. I am a top five instructor in the state of Connecticut and teach Dave Szewczul, the Connecticut State Golf Association Player of the Year in 2012. Another one of my students is Kevin Ollie, the head coach of the men’s basketball team at the University of Connecticut; he has improved his game on the course by several strokes due to his pre-round routine of dividing practice balls into my three categories. My lesson book is always packed, and the enthusiasm my students have for playing the game has improved because of the change in their practice routines.

If you would like to email the author of this Best Practice directly, please email pgatall@aol.com