Many of you are spending time on the driving range for the first time in many months. In most cases you convince yourself you just need to “get the rust off” and just make a lot of swings.
The result? You often buy the biggest pail of balls that is possible and swing away aimlessly until you hit the bottom of it.
Does it feel good to do this? Maybe, but did you get much out of it other than some exercise? Probably not.
Try and give some thought to your driving range routines this year when you are practicing. Warming up for a round is one thing but if you are actually practicing you should be trying to accomplish something.
Here are a couple of routines that I often use for myself and with students to vary up practice for more tangible results.
Play A Round
You are likely very familiar with your home golf course and how you play it. That means you know the club you normally hit off each tee box and the one you most likely use for your approach. Sure, it can vary a bit but you can use this information for the basis of a range routine.
Separate your golf balls into 18 piles, each representing holes 1-18 on your course. Have the number of balls in each pile match the number of full shots you expect to play on each hole.
Then “play” each hole, using your full pre-shot routine with an appropriate distance target.
This simulation is valuable for highlighting your focus on your routine and even your course management plan.
Advanced players can try to shape their “approach” shots based on an imaginary hole location.
Work The Flight
Hitting a stock shot over and over again on the range does not really simulate what you may face on the golf course where varying trajectory and shot shapes are often required.
To practice this take a nice stack of balls – say 20 for example, and with one club try to achieve a different shot height and shot shape with each consecutive shot. You can go back around to a certain shot, a high fade for example, but don’t try to hit the same shot two times in a row.
If you cannot do this successfully or understand how to vary shot shapes, talk to your coach about ball flight laws and how they affect the shot shape and trajectory.
Become A Striker
Achieving solid contact between the ball and the club face is a skill we can all develop. Even a marginal miss-hit can result in distance loss and shot shape control issues.
To practice this try to develop club face control, you should be intentionally be hitting shots both on-centre AND off-centre in your practice. It is all about developing your skill and awareness of where you strike the golf ball.
With a 7 iron, for example, use foot spray to coat the club face and then use a tee to mark the face into four equal areas with a horizontal line and a vertical line. Then choose a quadrant for each shot and try to strike the ball on that part of the face. Ball flight results don’t matter – some of the shots will feel bad and fly poorly, the focus is enhancing your ability to have the club face and ball meet where you want them to.
After a routine of about 20 balls, wipe the face clean and give it a new coat of spray. Then try 20 shots in a row where you are trying to achieve centred contact. You’d be amazing by how much this drill will enhance your ball striking ability.
Don’t be upset if your early results are poor. Keep adding this to your regular range routine and you should eventually see improvements.
Remember, all these routines will not help fundamental flaws in your golf swing. Work with your golf coach on those.
But, be sure to give more thought to your practice routines this year and I assure you that you will be a better golfer for it.