One of the great things about golf is that every player is striving to get better. Improvement is measurable and the opportunity to hit the best shot of your life is always lurking around the next fairway.
Many players are quick to spend time on the course, but fail to put in time at the driving range or at short game facilities. Those who go to the driving range may not have a proper practice routine and are not making the most of their time. This has many guessing why they are not shooting the scores they think they are capable of.
The answer is simple: you are not practicing intentionally and with a purpose.
Here are five tips to optimize your time when you are practicing at the range:
1. Ditch the rapid fire approach
A view of golf balls in baskets at a driving range. Photo by Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports
Remember to think about quality over quantity any day while hitting balls at the driving range. If you purchase a large bucket and are finished with it in 20 minutes, odds are you didn’t have a purposeful practice session. Develop a routine to try and apply to each ball you hit.
2. Don't start off with your driver
Ernie Els warms up on the practice range during the first round of the Charles Schwab Cup Championship golf tournament at Phoenix Country Club. Mandatory Credit: Allan Henry-USA TODAY Sports
Starting off with your driver on the range is a recipe for injury. Starting out with a club like an 8-iron is a safe bet as it keeps the body in more of a neutral position and swinging easy, upright and with a strong foundation.
3. Pick a target and use an alignment stick
Ian Poulter of England practices on the driving range prior to the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth Golf Club on September 06, 2022, in Virginia Water, England. (Photo by Luke Walker/Getty Images)
Practicing with a purpose means hitting each shot with intention. Where do you want the ball to land? How do you want the ball to land? These are all questions you should be asking yourself with each shot you hit. Put an alignment stick down, or if you don’t have one use another iron, and make sure you are committed to your target.
4. Putting drills
Tiger Woods and Justin Thomas practice their putting on the 16th green during a practice round for The 150th British Open Golf Championship on The Old Course at St. Andrews in Scotland on July 10, 2022. (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images)
Many golfers are focused on how they hit their irons or drivers but forget where the majority of their strokes come from. Putting is arguably the most important part of the sport. Many golfers practice putting by hitting their golf balls to random targets. Implement an element of repetition by doing a drill. Hit a three-foot putt 25 times or lag the same putt 10 times. This helps build confidence that you can take to the course.
5. Practice hitting different chip shots
Team USA golfer Collin Morikawa hits his chip shot on the second green during a practice day for the Presidents Cup golf tournament at Quail Hollow Club. (Photo: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports)
Maybe the 16th hole isn’t the best time to try out that flop shot you’ve never practiced before. The course isn’t the time to try new shots when you are trying to shoot a low score, so master it beforehand when you practice. Spend time learning how to hit a low rolling or a high spinning chip shot. Try chipping with different clubs in the bag and practice hitting out of different types of grass.