For those of you who take your golf game seriously……..and by seriously I mean those of you who visit the range on a consistent basis in order to improve – because I know a lot of players that aren’t even sure where the range is (which is fine) – there is a difference between practice, and PRACTICE. A LOT of people say they hit the ball better on the range than they do on the course. This is because you do not prepare for every shot on the range like you would on the course!
You need to have a plan when you go to the driving range if you intend to shave strokes off your game. And, if you’re still reading this, you are probably one of the golfers that works on your game at the range, and I would hope, the greens! I want you to take the following in consideration for all parts of your game – full swing, chipping and putting.
There are two types of practice – (1)Block practice, or, what I like to call (2) game-ready practice. What’s the difference you ask? Block practice consists of going to the range and hitting thirty 7-irons in 10 minutes. This type of practice involves no pre-shot routine, no real target, no visualization and generally ends with you being out of breath. The key point to remember is that this type of practice is fine – If you are in a time crunch or are making a swing change and are looking to repeat a certain “feeling”. The other type of practice is the type of practice that will make a difference in your performance on the course. Game-ready practice involves preparing yourself properly before every swing. Unfortunately, when we are on the course we only get one swing for every shot. We do not get to reach into our bucket of range balls and hit it over. Game-ready practice requires you to take your time, get aligned, visualize your shot and go through your pre-shot routine before every swing. A wise man once told me “Practice how you want to play“. So when I practice, I like to hit every shot on the range the same way I would hit it on the course. I stand behind the ball, take my practice swing while I visualize the shot I want to hit (starting point, trajectory, bounce and ending location)
*I’m going to take a timeout and explain my pre-shot routine a bit more* I use my time standing behind the ball to account for all the factors for my next shot. I have calculated the wind, my lie, where the best place to miss is (where I have the most opportunity to get up-and-down) and the action the ball will have when it lands. I choose my club accordingly (my general thought is to be below the pin with an uphill put) and if the pin is in a dangerous location with trouble surrounding, I am aiming for the biggest piece of real-estate – the middle of the green – where I hope most times I two-putt from and move on to the next hole.
The most common comment I hear from members and guests is “I can’t seem to take my swing from the range to the course“. For me I generally have the same answer, “Did you prepare for every shot on the range the same way you prepared for a shot on the course?” And the typical answer I hear is “No”. Well, for a lack of a better word, DUH. I do not mean to be critical but instead, realistic. I can hit a bunch of 7 irons rapidly on the range and hit most of them “well”, but it’s the ones that I hit poorly that I ask myself, “Were you properly prepared for that swing”, and the answer is NO.
So in conclusion, the next time you are at the range and trying to “prepare” for a round of golf or just improve your swing in general, take the time to set up for the shot like you only have one swing at it. Go through the same procedure you would when on the course. One method I use is to hit a different club for each shot! How many times on the course do you hit 5 wedges in a row. When you change your club every swing on the range you are forced to start your routine over again (And therefore change your intentions for each club). * And I want to mention that this goes for all types of practice - Full swing, short-game and putting (when practicing chipping and putting I recommend going for a different target with every shot)
Remember that hitting thirty 7 irons in row on the range without setting up for every swing (alignment, flight path, landing spot) will only help you to a certain point. I will repeat, “practice how you wanna play“. Imagine a certain shot on the course and prepare accordingly. This type of practice is what makes the difference between a breaking 80, 90 or 100. USE YOUR PRACTICE TIME WISELY!!!!! It will make a difference!
Please come see me for practice drills or proper practice routines and remember, I am only writing this to help you improve your game!