By Mark Wehrman EBS Contributor

When to practice and how to practice are two essentials when it comes to improving your golf game. One thing is for certain, practice doesn’t make perfect, it makes permanent. So many golfers spend too much time perfecting bad habits and also put too much time into the less important areas.

First, let’s talk some facts. Sixty percent of your shots on the course are within 60 yards of the green. So where do you think 60 percent of your practice should be spent? Too many times I see people go to the practice range, buy a large bucket of balls and immediately pull out their driver and start banging away. At most, in an 18 hole round you will only use your driver 14 times.

Let’s say you’re a bogey golfer and your average score is around 90. That means that only 15 percent of your shots are played with the driver. So, why would we spend close to 100 percent of our time working on just that club? The answer is because it is more fun to slash away trying to hit the home run with the driver than stand on the putting green and work on distance control and lag putting. But, please remember, the old adage of “drive for show and putt for dough” couldn’t be more true.

Next time you’re going to spend some time on your game please consider these good habits. If you are on the driving range before going out to play you’re essentially warming up. This is not a time to grind on a new technique or perfect a motion. This time should be spent creating a smooth tempo for the day and warming up your muscles to avoid injury. Make sure to start with a shorter club and work your way through the bag ending with the driver.

The best time to get good quality practice is either after your round or on a day you’re not planning on playing. Start with putting and then move to chips and pitches around the green, working on feel and distance control. After you’ve spent 30 minutes to an hour around the green you can make your way to the driving range. Once there, start small. Hit lots of half wedges and slowly work your way through the bag.

If you’re working on drills, hopefully they have been prescribed to you by a PGA Professional. Make sure you are doing those drills with a more lofted club like a 6-, 7- or 8-iron. Do not attempt to do drills with a 3-wood or driver. Also, make sure your interval between shots doesn’t decrease. Meaning, don’t play rapid fire with your basket of balls.

It’s very easy when we’re not hitting the ball well to start hitting shots faster and faster hoping the result changes. You are better off taking your time, being deliberate with your setup, and focusing on what you are trying to change or fix.

In summary, quality practice is spent on and around the green, not swinging the driver over and over again seeing how far you can hit it. If you are not sure if you are working on correct fundamentals and/or mechanics, go see your local PGA Professional.

Mark Wehrman is the PGA Head Professional at the Big Sky Resort Golf Course.