GOLF DIGEST SCHOOLS

The Will Robins Plan: Play Better Without Practice

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Lesson 1: Getting Rid of Expectations

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There’s no substitute for practice when you want to improve—or is there? How often have you hit your first-tee shot off the map after grooving your swing on the range? In this video, Golf Digest Best Young Teacher Will Robins explains why it’s important to put aside expectations and rid yourself of swing-killing tension.

SWING THOUGHTS

Lose the stress of trying to swing perfectly, and focus on “playing” golf
Expectations raise the level of tension and lead to poor performance
Clear your mind and swing freely right from the first tee. Stop trying so hard
Play with the freedom you usually feel after you think you’ve blown the round
Lesson 2: Driving It in Play
2 Lesson 2: Driving It in Play
  • Follow this 3-step plan to never lose strokes off the tee

The Will Robins Plan: Play Better Without Practice

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Lesson 2: Driving It in Play

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After you’ve tempered your expectations, it’s time to put the ball in play. This should be your only goal. Follow this strategy on the first tee, and for every tee shot during the round. You can’t make pars hitting the ball out-of-bounds or into hazards. Here, Will Robins explains his three-step plan for driving the ball in the fairway.

SWING THOUGHTS

Don’t play aggressively off the tee. Try to simply put the ball in a good position
From the tee, identify where the worst trouble is and avoid it
Choose a club that feels comfortable. It doesn’t have to be driver
Make your swing knowing it’s OK to miss—don’t try to be so precise
Lesson 3: Stop Leaving Shots Short
3 Lesson 3: Stop Leaving Shots Short
  • Why you should add 10 yards to all your distances

The Will Robins Plan: Play Better Without Practice

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Lesson 3: Stop Leaving Shots Short

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We all wish we hit our approach shots the exact distance we have in mind. The reality is, that rarely happens. For average golfers, mis-hits are more common than perfect strikes. This often results in approaches left short—and trouble around the greens. Will Robins shares his advice on how to stop hitting your approaches into bad spots.

SWING THOUGHTS

Understand that most of the trouble is short of the green
When you get your yardage to the hole, add 10 and club for the extra yardage
Swing smoothly, knowing you don’t have to hit a career shot
See if you can get your ball to the flag or past it—every time
Lesson 4: Simplifying Chip Shots
4 Lesson 4: Simplifying Chip Shots
  • Get good with this one club (you won't believe which one)

The Will Robins Plan: Play Better Without Practice

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Lesson 4: Simplifying Chip Shots

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On difficult shots, like tee shots or long approaches, we can live with a mis-hit here and there. But doing it with a wedge when you have a chance to save par can drive you crazy. Chunks, blades and shanks are extremely frustrating and can wear on you mentally. In this video, Will Robins explains how to simplify greenside shots.

SWING THOUGHTS

Pick the easiest shot around the green. A wedge isn’t always the best option
Try chipping with your hybrid, and think of it as a long putt
Play a simple, along-the-ground shot for better contact and distance control
Lesson 5: No More Reading Greens
5 Lesson 5: No More Reading Greens
  • What you should focus on instead to avoid three-putts

The Will Robins Plan: Play Better Without Practice

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Lesson 5: No More Reading Greens

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Many amateurs complicate putting by reading the green from every angle. Here, Will Robins explains that three-putts are often a result of poor distance control on long putts, something average golfers aren’t always focused on. For fewer three-putts, Robins says you should stop reading greens and focus only on your speed.

SWING THOUGHTS

When standing over a putt, focus on the target, not your stroke
Gauge the distance by looking at the hole on your practice strokes
Repeat your rehearsal when you step in to hit the putt
Lesson 6: Taking Away the Flag
6 Lesson 6: Taking Away the Flag
  • Try this mental exercise and putt for birdie more often

The Will Robins Plan: Play Better Without Practice

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Lesson 6: Taking Away the Flag

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Shooting at every flag looks like fun when we see the PGA Tour’s best do it on TV, but even those guys know how to play away from trouble. It’s not about hitting the hero shot; it’s about avoiding disasters. In this video, Will Robins offers tips for how to hit better approach shots so you have more putts for birdie and par.

SWING THOUGHTS

Forget about where the flag is. Broaden your target to take off some pressure
Play for the middle of the green to help eliminate double bogeys
Accept that hitting a safe shot is OK—you’re playing the odds, not copping out
Lesson 7: Getting Out of Trouble
7 Lesson 7: Getting Out of Trouble
  • How to keep a clear head and stay away from big numbers

The Will Robins Plan: Play Better Without Practice

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Lesson 7: Getting Out of Trouble

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Let’s face it, unless you play the perfect round, you’ll find yourself in trouble at some point. The best way to get out of it is to be smart. If you attempt a tough recovery shot, especially after you’ve just hit a poor shot, you’re probably headed for a big number. Will Robins shows why good decision-making is essential for lower scores.

SWING THOUGHTS

When you get in a bad spot, make sure your next shot avoids a worse spot
Play for position. When you’re in trouble, don’t try to make it up in one swing
Plan to make a “par” from trouble: Pitch out, wedge on, two putts
Lesson 8: Dialing in Your Wedges
8 Lesson 8: Dialing in Your Wedges
  • A simple system to cover any distance from 50 to 100 yards

The Will Robins Plan: Play Better Without Practice

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Lesson 8: Dialing in Your Wedges

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Having a half-wedge shot to the green can be a scary situation for many. Most of us have a 100-yard club we like, but being able to dial back that club can be challenging. In this video, Will Robins demonstrates how to execute partial wedge shots. Reducing tension and focusing on a few fundamentals, he says, will get you on the green.

SWING THOUGHTS

On less-than-full wedge shots, choke up slightly for control
From shorter distances, shorten your backswing. Find a halfway point
For all wedge shots, keep your swing tempo the same as it is on a full shot
Even on short wedges, turn to the finish with acceleration and good tempo
Lesson 9: Rewriting the Scorecard
9 Lesson 9: Rewriting the Scorecard
  • Boost your confidence by setting realistic scoring goals

The Will Robins Plan: Play Better Without Practice

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Lesson 9: Rewriting the Scorecard

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Golf is a numbers game. At the end of each round, you add them up and see what you shot. This can be a humbling experience, but what if you lowered your expectations? Will Robins explains how to reconfigure the scorecard before you tee off to put yourself in a better position to judge your results.

SWING THOUGHTS

Use your handicap in a new way: Apply handicap strokes before your round
Change the par on your stroke holes; for example, make a tough par 4 a par 5
Don’t stretch your abilities. Lower expectations, and you’ll play better
Lesson 10: Enjoying the Game
10 Lesson 10: Enjoying the Game
  • How to give yourself every chance to play well and have fun

The Will Robins Plan: Play Better Without Practice

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Lesson 10: Enjoying the Game

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Even if you apply all these lessons, the game will still be difficult—you have to appreciate that. In this video, Will Robins talks about the importance of having fun and not placing too much pressure on yourself. To help, he offers his best tips for shooting lower scores by being honest about what you’re comfortable doing.

SWING THOUGHTS

Take it easy on yourself. Even the best players in the world struggle
Treat yourself as you would a junior golfer: Make it as fun as possible
Consider playing from the forward tees. If you’re stuck in a bunker, throw it out
It’s OK to treat a casual round differently than a tournament round

The Will Robins Plan: Play Better Without Practice

Lesson
1 / 10
Lesson 1: Getting Rid of Expectations
2 / 10
Lesson 2: Driving It in Play
3 / 10
Lesson 3: Stop Leaving Shots Short
4 / 10
Lesson 4: Simplifying Chip Shots
5 / 10
Lesson 5: No More Reading Greens
6 / 10
Lesson 6: Taking Away the Flag
7 / 10
Lesson 7: Getting Out of Trouble
8 / 10
Lesson 8: Dialing in Your Wedges
9 / 10
Lesson 9: Rewriting the Scorecard
10 / 10
Lesson 10: Enjoying the Game
The Will Robins Plan: Play Better Without Practice INDEX
Lesson 1: Getting Rid of Expectations
1/10
Lesson 1: Getting Rid of Expectations
  • Learn to turn down the tension and stop trying so hard
  • Learn to turn down the tension and stop trying so hard
Lesson 2: Driving It in Play
2/10
Lesson 2: Driving It in Play
  • Follow this 3-step plan to never lose strokes off the tee
  • Follow this 3-step plan to never lose strokes off the tee
Lesson 3: Stop Leaving Shots Short
3/10
Lesson 3: Stop Leaving Shots Short
  • Why you should add 10 yards to all your distances
  • Why you should add 10 yards to all your distances
Lesson 4: Simplifying Chip Shots
4/10
Lesson 4: Simplifying Chip Shots
  • Get good with this one club (you won't believe which one)
  • Get good with this one club (you won't believe which one)
Lesson 5: No More Reading Greens
5/10
Lesson 5: No More Reading Greens
  • What you should focus on instead to avoid three-putts
  • What you should focus on instead to avoid three-putts
Lesson 6: Taking Away the Flag
6/10
Lesson 6: Taking Away the Flag
  • Try this mental exercise and putt for birdie more often
  • Try this mental exercise and putt for birdie more often
Lesson 7: Getting Out of Trouble
7/10
Lesson 7: Getting Out of Trouble
  • How to keep a clear head and stay away from big numbers
  • How to keep a clear head and stay away from big numbers
Lesson 8: Dialing in Your Wedges
8/10
Lesson 8: Dialing in Your Wedges
  • A simple system to cover any distance from 50 to 100 yards
  • A simple system to cover any distance from 50 to 100 yards
Lesson 9: Rewriting the Scorecard
9/10
Lesson 9: Rewriting the Scorecard
  • Boost your confidence by setting realistic scoring goals
  • Boost your confidence by setting realistic scoring goals
Lesson 10: Enjoying the Game
10/10
Lesson 10: Enjoying the Game
  • How to give yourself every chance to play well and have fun
  • How to give yourself every chance to play well and have fun