Instruction: Are You Practicing With a Purpose?

As a coach and golf instructor, I have spent a lot of my time down on the range. I constantly watch the higher handicap players hitting golf balls over and over with very little or no time in between shots and at the same time, I will look over to the short game area where I would see lower handicap players working on their chipping, pitching and putting. Don’t get me wrong, we need to focus on all aspects of the game including the long game, but I have found most higher handicap, amateur players who are looking to get better, tend to practice incorrectly.

I have found that a good percentage of players who are down on the driving range are simply loosening up before their round, trying to find a groove, which is great, but I am sure everyone has heard the saying “I am a great range player” and still struggles on the golf course. A lot of amateur players are baffled by this and don’t understand why they can hit the ball so good on the range and then the complete opposite result once they get on the golf course. The reason for this is that on the range, players tend to hit balls over and over and create a groove in their swing. Chances are, by the end of the warm up session, the player will be hitting the ball fairly consistently. This usually does not transfer to the golf course.

On the golf course, the player hits one shot, puts their club away in their bag, walk a good amount to their second shot, hit again and continue this process until the ball is in the hole. Golfers only have that one swing at a time while playing golf. On the range while warming up, the player can hit a bad shot, then set up to another ball, and try to fix what happened in the previous shot. Nothing wrong with this process as long as the players mindset is focused on how they can bring their range game, to the golf course.

When I am practicing or warming up on the range, I start by hitting a few shots, just to get loose, not think of much and would do this for a couple of shots. I then try to visualize like I am playing an actual golf hole. I start off with a par 4, pull out the driver, pick a target and try to accomplish my goal like I would if I was playing a round. I then take a short break, visualize my second shot, pull out the appropriate club, pick a target which would be a flag at a certain distance and hit. Simple visualization on the range can improve how you practice and in turn, lower your scores on the course.

Give it a try.

– Adam Baylis, PGA of Canada

Adam Baylis @abayliscpga is the Head Professional at Galt Country Club.  He has worked in the golf industry for 20+ years as a golf professional from Private to Semi Private Golf Clubs but has a true passion for growing the game and junior golf development in Ontario.  A proud PGA of Canada Professional, Member of the Canadian Society of Club Managers and Graduate of the Professional Golf Management Program at Niagara College.

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