I hit 10,000 Practice Shots And This Is What Happened

Big headline, I know. I promise it's not just a shock & awe attention grabber. I really did it, and I think I had good reason. 

First off, a little background on me. My name is Brian French and I'm the one who started this whole Edward & Co. thing. (I know, weird that my name isn't Edward). I've always enjoyed golf and the lifestyle that surrounds it, but for the last 12 years I had a pretty demanding job that didn't really allow me to put any time into the sport. I am, by definition, a very average golfer. Going into this winter, my handicap sat at 15.9 and that was a pretty big jump from where I started this past season before quitting my job. Knowing that winter in Michigan won't allow me to get on the course for close to 5 months, I decided to outline my offseason plan and goals. One of the big ones that I settled on was hitting 10,000 shots during the offseason. The goal of this exercise was mainly to get more comfortable and confident in my swing and to clean up the stupid errors that plague most folks of my skill level. With the comfort, I hoped that added distance would come but honestly that was secondary to my main goal. 

So there you have it, I set off to smack 10,000 balls and see what it got me. Here are some more details. My date range was 11/13/20 to 4/1/21 (139 days, 72 shots a day) and my launch monitor was the Sky Trak.



2,000 Shot Update (12/17/20): I took two weeks off for vacation and it's been a wild experience catching up on the shots missed. The original pace was for 72 shots a day (which is more than it sounds like) and I'm trying to do double and triple duty to catch up. Other than my muscles and joints getting used to the new workload, the actual swing impact is going very well so far. I've seen substantial distance gains as I get more comfortable with increasing my swing speed and, perhaps more surprisingly, my shot dispersion is slowly decreasing for most clubs. All in all, I'm very happy with the progress and I'm hoping that the returns don't diminish from here out. Side note: I've never hit the same ball this many times without losing it, and I'm starting to realize that balls have a shorter life span than I expected. 


4,000 Shot Update (1/18/21): They say it takes 21 days to make a habit. Well, I'm 66 days in to this experiment and it's become second nature to get my swings in every day. I've seen some improvements in shot dispersion and have been focusing more on using the built in game improvement portions of the Sky Trak software to mix things up a bit. Did have to break down and re-grip my clubs and made the mistake of using an entirely new style and thickness of grip which took some getting used to, but the good news is I have nothing but time and reps to go. I've found at this point if I miss a day and have to catch up I'll still have some soreness but it's much improved over where we started on this journey. All-in-all, I'm still not sick of this experiment which is about the best news I can share. See you again at 6,000 shots.   


6,000 Shot Update (2/13/21): Golfers elbow has entered the chat. At some point in the last month I was faced with a decision. Nobody knows that I'm doing this project or writing this article, so I had two choices. Drop the target shot count to let myself rest and rehab, or just keep going through the pain. Well, you're reading this right now so you know that I smell like Icy Hot and have multiple ice packs on deck. In terms of skills, I've never had any consistency or faith in my wedges at full or 3/4 swing and after a ton of work and hoseled balls I'm honestly starting to believe inside 100 yards is becoming the strength of my game. 

It is worth noting that during this period I upgraded my irons (treat yo self) so I've spent a decent amount of time in the past weeks getting acclimated to them versus game improvement or club mapping. 


8,000 Shot Update (3/8/21):  Surprisingly, the last 2,000 shots went by pretty quickly and painlessly. I've gotten the golfers elbow pretty much in check using cold compresses and with the exception of trying to do a huge amount in a day, it hasn't bothered me. I've gained as much confidence as I'm going to get in my stock yardages so I moved from mostly club mapping to skill assessment and challenges/games. I cannot overstate how much this has helped. Knowing that you need to hit 35 decent shots to know how far they go is an entirely different mental state compared to trying to hit a target or attempting to land balls on different greens. I also started doing more video of my swing to see where I can make simple changes to improve (the answer is everywhere). Overall, my confidence behind the ball is much improved and my misses have gotten much less severe. The weather here in Michigan is getting better and better and I'm going to get two rounds in this coming weekend so it will be a great first look at whether or not this was all a waste of time. 24 days to go at an 80 shot per day pace. On to the homestretch. 


10,000 Shot Update (3/31/21): It's over. I'll be honest. this last batch of shots was really a grind with the weather slowly getting better and with this experiment finally coming to a close. I'm ecstatic to go 4 months without hitting a ball into a screen. I'll leave some of my main thoughts for the close here, but damn am I happy this is completed, and yes, I'm happy that I did it. 


Final thoughts, Pros: There are a lot of positives to this process. The first was writing this article and having a target amount forced me to practice. I literally couldn't go days or weeks without swinging and that most definitely helped to keep me in the mental space of golf and swing improvements. Many winters I just forget about golf and focus on the gym or other things so this was a nice way to keep golf front and center. As a mid handicap, I can't suggest doing something like this enough, because my confidence behind the ball and my comfort level with my routine really improved by leaps and bounds. Did I become a scratch? No. Would I suggest 10,000? No. Should you just go smack as many balls as you can? No. Have a goal in mind, have something to work on every day, and go improve. 


Final thoughts, Cons: At this point I've gotten outside to play actual golf for 3 rounds and I can see impacts of hitting indoors for so long. Indoor mats are very forgiving for fat shots. You simply can't dig like you can outside, especially early in the season when it's still a little wet and muddy. My first two rounds looked like an IHOP there were so many pancakes. Stacks on stacks. After some time on the range and careful swings, my third round cleaned up quite a bit. The other thing you completely forget about inside is wind. Just adding another level of thought into your shot prep can shake you after getting so used to stepping up and hitting it according to your draw or fade. 


All in all, I'm happy with the results and will never ever be doing this again. I'll update mid season to see what really happens to my handicap and if any of this was worth it. Go out and play golf!





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