Heading to the driving range and smacking 100 balls, while it may have therapeutic benefits, isn’t very beneficial to your golf game. To make real progress at the driving range, you need to arrive with a specific strategy in mind. Of course, you don’t go to the range just to practice your drive. You should use the range to train for every aspect of your game — from the drive to the final putt. In fact, it’s a good idea to practice every aspect of the game whenever you go to the range. You never just use your driver to play 18 holes at the course, so why spend the whole time at the range with just one club?
We’ll start with a tip for your wedges because these are the clubs you should start practice with. It’s easier to get into a rhythm with the shorter clubs. You don’t want to start off swinging hard, just nice, easy swings to get into a relaxed rhythm. Focus on hitting the ball straight (not far) and making solid contact.
One of the problems that many golfers face is that they shift their weight around as they chip. This can be a pretty easy habit to break, if you concentrate on it at the range. The solution is simple: stand on one foot. It sounds crazy, but it makes complete sense. When you’re ready to swing, stand only on your front foot. You can let your back foot rest on the ground, but don’t put any weight on it. Now chip. Your contact and consistency will improve immediately. Once you get used to the feeling of keeping your weight over your front foot, you can go back to standing like a normal person again.
One thing a lot of golfers don’t understand is that they should be striking downward a bit on the ball with their irons to spin the ball into the air. That means that the grip should be ahead of the head at the point of impact. It’s important to get a feel for this position. The easiest way to is to place an obstacle on the ground in front of you and line up as if you’re going to strike the obstacle. Put the club face against the obstacle and push, not moving the obstacle but allowing your hands to move forward 4 to 6 inches. Your back knee will bend into the shot as well. This is the position at the point of impact. Now move the obstacle and hit your shot. Repeat that feeling at impact and your iron shots will be much more consistent.
One of the easiest things to do wrong with your drive (and fortunately one of the easiest things to fix) is your grip. A bad grip is an easy bad habit to pick up. Make it a habit to take a good look at your grip before you swing and you’ll notice a huge improvement in consistency. As you grab the club with the top hand and place the lower hand over the thumb and step up to the tee, make sure the tee of both the top and bottom hands are pointed directly to the clavicle nearest your back shoulder. This will keep your club face (and your shot) straight.
One of the most common problems that golfers face on the green is keeping their heads down. You want to see where that shot is going! Here’s a drill that can put an end to this annoying (and costly) habit. Take a golf tee and push it all the way down into the ground where you’ll be putting from. Now place the ball right on top of the tee, set up, and putt. Here’s where the tee comes in — Don’t look up until you see the tee that was under the ball. That way you know you’ve kept your head down until after the shot. It seems simple but it can do wonders for your putting game.
There’s a ton of stuff to think about during a game — too much, really. If you get used to setting up and swinging correctly, you’ll have less to think about on the golf course. That’s what the driving range is for — to program good habits so there’s less to go wrong during a game.
Matt is an avid golf enthusiast and part of the TruGolf.com team. When he’s not working on his fairway shot, you will find Matt writing about his passion for the process of the game.