We have all been at the driving range and found ourselves in a mindless trance of pounding ball after ball after endless range ball. That groove does absolutely nothing to help your game. If anything it probably hurts it as you are probably further ingraining poor techniques into your swing. Today we will discuss some ways to avoid getting into that groove, while making your driving range sessions more productive.

Driving Range Balls

Have a Plan

You have probably heard it before, but it does not hurt to mention it again. Have a plan when you goto the driving range. The worst thing you can do is buy a large bucket of balls and just start swinging. Decide what you are going to work on, when you are going to the range. If you are working on something in your swing, stick to working on one thing. Be it tempo, the takeaway, your alignment, stance, whatever it is, stick to one thing. Everyone knows how difficult it is to hit a golf ball when you have a million things running through your head. So eliminate those thoughts. Concentrate on one thing, and get that one thing right.

Treat Each Shot Like a Shot on the Course

You are at the range to practice the game of golf, right? If you were playing would you just walk up to the ball, and swing? No, you would think about the shot, pick a target, visualize the trajectory, go through your routine and then hit the ball. Make sure you do the same at the range. Pick a target. A very specific target, a flag, another ball, a post on the netting. Get into this habit on the range and you will carry it with you on the course. How often have you walked up to a tee, and just thought, ok, I’ll hit it somewhere in the fairway? If you’re a common golfer, probably pretty often. Next time you play pick a very specific target. A yardage marker, a sprinkler head, a post, something small. I think you’ll find you concentrate a little more and that your body will really work to get the ball there.

Always Use Your Pre-Shot Routine

If you do not already have a pre-shot routine, create one immediately. A pre-shot routine can go a long way to making you a more consistent golfer, not only under pressure but even during casual rounds. As we mentioned earlier, since you are treating each shot like a real shot on the course, always use your pre-shot routine on the range. Line up the shot from behind, walk in, waggle, whatever it is you do, just make sure you do it. You’ll quickly find that you do not need a ‘large’ bucket of balls at the range. Take 50-60 balls, treat each one like an actual shot, pre-shot routine and all, and you will find your practice sessions at the range are far more productive.

Driving Range Black and White

Make a Game of It

If you find yourself getting bored working on one thing, make a game of it. If you are there with a friend this is very easy. Have a little chipping/pitching contest. Each of you take 3 balls, and see who can get closest to the 50 yard flag. The winner gets to pick the next target. This is a lot of fun, puts a little pressure on each shot, and really makes you concentrate on hitting a specific target.

If you are there by yourself, one thing I like to try and do is play a simulated round. Take a scorecard with you, or better yet a yardage book from your favorite course. Start off on hole #1 and play shots in the range as if you were playing a round. Hit your tee shot at a specific target, estimate the distance and figure the distance for your next shot. If you are far off line, practice a layup or punch shot back into the fairway. If you stick the approach shot close to the target, move on to the next hole. If you were off on the approach shot, hit a pitch/chip. Write down your score as you go along. And again, be sure to treat each shot as if it were a real shot on the course.

Take these tips along with you to the range next time, and I think you will quickly see some improvement in your game.

Note: The photos in this post were offered under the Creative Commons license. Click on the images to learn more about the photographer and the photo.

Harvey Specter
Posted at 1:44 pm March 27, 2008

Great tips. I’ll make sure to implement these on my next driving range visit.

Harvey Specter
Posted at 9:11 am March 28, 2008

Thanks Joel, let me know how you make out with them.

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