The only way that you would have found and opened this article is if, deep down, you know you aren’t using your range time very efficiently.
Ever caught yourself hitting ball after ball at the same target? That’s great for golf, because that’s how actual golf rounds work, right? Hitting the same club again and again to the exact same target at the exact same distance away? Oh, wait…
I challenge you to make a pact: to never waste your time on the range ever again
Please open to page 1 of the Golf Bible and read along out loud:
“Starting right here and now, I promise to only spend my time wisely and efficiently when on the driving range. Golf gods, please bless me with the improvement that I so much need right now in my golf game. Oh, and golf goods… thank you for the gift that is GolfClubGuru.com. Amen.”
Thank you, you may now be seated.
If you seriously want to improve your golf game and the scores that you shoot, you need to use the driving range as the incredible resource that it is.
Now that we are done blankly hitting balls and going through the motions on the range, you should use the driving range in three main ways: to warm up, to make a swing change, and the simulate rounds.
Use the Driving Range to Warm up for a Round
The first reason that you should use the range is to simply warm up for a round.
Start with a couple short pitch shots, focusing on compressing the ball and hitting to a small target. Gradually increase the distance of your pitch shots until you feel a little warmer.
You can stay in the same line, but only increase the distance of your shots. Or, you can go left and right to different targets.
Avoid hitting to the same target back to back. If there aren’t enough targets, pick a noticeable spot in the grass somewhere or any other sort of target that you can see from far away.
Once your body is comfortable hitting some full wedges, shoot a couple of targets with your rangefinder and start going through your pre-shot routine. Don’t have one? Start today with a simple one: stand behind the ball for a second, imagine your shot in your head, twist the club or whatever you would like, set up, and hit it. Rinse and repeat to a couple of different targets.
Gradually go through your irons from highest lofts to lowest. For warming up irons, I start with PW, hit a few shots to different targets and distances, skip to 8 iron, repeat, skip to 6 iron, repeat, and then finish with some 4 iron shots.
Remember, you don’t play golf by hitting the same shots more than once in a row, so don’t do it on the range either. If you have trouble with your alignment at times, consider hitting a few shots with the alignment stick pointed slightly left of the target to make sure your alignment stays square or nearly square.
I then continue this process with my hybrid, three wood, and driver.
When I am completely warm, I play the first couple of holes on the range. I call them “simulated golf” on the range. Scroll to the bottom of the page for a more in depth explanation. I make a make-believe fairway (between flags on the range, or just in an open area) and try to hit it right down the middle.
Then, still pretending as if I am playing the first hole of the course I am about to play, I hit the typical iron shot that I would have. I do this for the first couple of holes, then pick a few holes that I know are difficult or that I have had trouble with in the past. I then simulate those holes as well, all the way down to small pitch shots if that’s what I would be left with on a pretend par 5. I save putting and chipping for the practice and putting greens.
I usually finish my warm up on the driving range here, or I hit a few more shots that I feel like I am struggling with. For example, today I might hit a few extra wedge shots (STILL NEVER THE SAME SHOT BACK TO BACK THOUGH).
- start with short pitch shots, gradually increasing distance or changing target
- when you are warm, start going through your pre-shot routine before each shot
- go through your irons, consistently changing clubs, targets, and yardages
- hit some hybrids, 3 woods, and drivers with make believe fairways, keep changing clubs and targets
Use the Driving Range to Make Swing Changes
The best spot for swing changes is 100% on the driving range. That way, you are not getting upset with yourself on the course. Plus, you can hit as many balls as you want to truly ingrain the swing change. Need some tips to actually make a swing change?
It’s definitely OK to hit many balls in a row with the same club or at the same target when making some sort of improvement to your swing. That way, you can get more reps in with the new swing and skip the down time of pre-shot routines, changing clubs, and shooting yardages with your rangefinder.
Whatever change you are trying to make in your golf swing, try to find some drills that complement the change. For example, if you are trying to work on curing your slice, make a path with golf balls or water bottles to where the club has to go through the path to make an in to out swing, or else you hit the balls/bottle.
Never be afraid to exaggerate whatever move you are trying to make on the driving range. If you are slicing badly, you need to learn how to hit hooks by coming far from the inside (swinging to right field) and rotating the club face through impact with your torso and forearms.
Keep practicing until you are hooking it so badly that you have to purposely turn it down a few notches. Find that happy medium and enjoy your improved golf swing.
Warning: Don’t get too addicted to the driving range. I know lots of golfers that become pros on the driving range but can’t find a way to bring it to the course. Once you are comfortable with your swing change, start taking it to the course as much as possible. You can always go back after the round to continue working on your swing.
Another thing to keep in mind, don’t get addicted to swing changes. Keep major changes for the off season. Learn to score well, not just have a good looking golf swing. Make sure there is a purpose for your golf swing change, which should be to end up in a better impact position, become a better ball striker, and shoot lower scores eventually.
Use to Driving Range to Simulate Actual Rounds
I’m going to be upfront and honest about this one. 99% of you will never do this. The 1% that do and continue to do so, will definitely improve quicker than those that don’t. The main reason that 99% of you won’t do it is because it takes a TON of willpower, focus, and creativity.
Simulated golf on the driving range is where you play an entire round (excluding chipping and putting) in your head and on the range.
You have to make your own fairways and determine how many yards you’d have left typically. Par 5’s, you have to determine if you would lay up or go for it in 2. If you don’t hit a good shot, you’d have to determine how far away you would drop, as if you hit it in a hazard.
Note: you can play any course that you know if your head.
My challenge for you is to do this next time you go to the range:
- Warm up however you normally do (follow the advice above if needed)
- Start on hole 1 of whatever course you do.
- Play every shot and hole in order as if you were playing the real course.
- Do your pre shot routine for every shot. Take a short break between each shot.
- Use your rangefinder and hit to flags that are close to your approach shot distance.
- Be true to yourself. Hit it way left where there is typically water on that hole? Play your next shot on the range to as far as you think you would have to drop from. Hit it in the trees? Have to hit a low punch shot out. Hit it where the tree might be overhanging in a real round? Hit a fade or draw as needed.
- Hit everything from drivers, approach shots, lay up shots, pitches, etc. Skip chipping and putting until you get to the practice green.
- Bonus: keep track with how many fairways and greens you think you hit.