Golf Driving Range – How to Optimise Your Learning

We all spend time at our local golf driving range – we’re there because we want to get better at golf. But how should you spend your time at the golf driving range to optimise your learning?

In this article I’m going to break down the perfect golf driving range routine to help you super-charge your golfing progress.

Set clear aims

It is very easy just to go through the motions and expect to improve your golf. However, this is not how we learn. Practice needs to be specific and suitably difficult. So, when you’re travelling to the golf driving range ideally you should set yourself 1-2 clear aims for your practice session.

This might be to improve your slice, refine your distance control with wedges, or just to make contact with the damn ball. The key is to be specific. Have a clear aim or two, and shape your practice around it.

How many balls should I hit at the golf range?

Unless you’re a tour pro or a serious amateur practicing 15+ hour a week, I would suggest 50-100 balls maximum.

If you follow the steps in this article 50-60 balls will take you close to an hour to hit. I tend to find I hit 50 balls in the time it takes most golfers to hit 100. However, with my method I would back myself to out-learn nearly all golfers on the range.

Part 1 – A simple driving range warm up

There is still a lot of debate about how best to warm up. You can read lots around it, but the two main aims are to:

  1. Minimise the chance of injury.
  2. Prepare your body for a great practice session.

From my humble perspective I suggest a few dynamic stretches, followed by 5 to 10 warm up shots. I’ve searched for some good examples of dynamic stretching – it took some sifting to find a useful video, but here are three great stretches from Matt Scott for you (great video Matt). 

Once you’ve completed these. Take a wedge or 9-iron and hit 5-10 shots.

Key point – You are not aiming to hit perfect golf shots with these 5 – 10 shots. Don’t worry where the ball goes, this is just your golf driving range warm up!

Part 2 – Improve your technique

For your next 20-30 balls focus on improving one aspect of your swing that will have the biggest affect on your ball flight and performance. This might be mastering your stance and golf grip, or working on improving your impact position.

Hopefully you’ve got a great golf coach who helps you build your golf swing.

Golf coach or no golf coach, I still feel each player should have a baseline knowledge of how their golf swing works. For your 20-30 balls focused on technique, follow these steps:

Your aim with each shot is to alter the one swing principle that will improve your ball flight. If this sentence doesn’t make sense and you’re wondering what a swing principle is, don’t worry. Click the link above for a quick explanation and read this piece on how to be your own golf coach.

Swing principles – impact factors – ball flight

As golf coaches, this is the approach we all take to improve your game. I think it’s useful for you to have a basic grasp of the process if you wish to make the most of your practice at your local golf range.

The key message is to have a clear swing thought/feeling with each shot and to understand how the ball flight you produce is linked to the swing principle in focus.

A basic example is this – The more the club face is open to the swing path, the more my golf ball will slice. The stronger I make my left hand grip, the squarer my club face will be to my swing path, and the less the golf ball will slice.

If you’re aiming to improve your swing, please make sure you check your aim.

All you need to do is lay down a golf club aiming 3 feet (1 metre) to the left of your target. You can a golf club or snazzy alignment sticks, both will work well.

Make practice swings between shots

This is possibly the greatest difference between golfers who improve and golfers who don’t.

Have 1-2 practice swings between every shot you hit at the golf driving range. With each practice swing emphasise the swing principle you’re trying to change. Embed that movement into a simple feeling you can use on your next shot. This is known as kinaesthetic learning.

Attempt to hit each golf shot with this feeling, then reflect and go through the process again. This is how you will learn how to control the golf ball and your golf swing. This is the secret to accelerating your learning whilst hitting fewer balls.

Part 3 – Play a skills game

With your last 20 golf balls I strongly suggest you play a skills game. I have included many examples of skills games in previous posts – for a starting point you can read this piece, with three great long game skills games.

If you don’t have time to jump to another article, below is a simple example of a golf driving range skills game I created my friend Tom.

Tom is in the early stages of his golfing development and I wanted a simple but great way for him to track his progress. Skills games also help you transfer your skill on to the golf course.

Tom’s range challenge

Find two markers 20 yards apart, at around 100-150 yards on your golf driving range (see below).

These are rough distances, you can change them if you wish to make the game more challenging.

golf driving range near me how to optimise practice. Find two markers 20 yards apart aim to hit five balls through your target gap.
In this game, your aim is to land the shots within this funnel. Don’t worry how far they travel, it will vary with each club. As you can see, you have more width as you hit the ball further (with apologies to Tom for drawing on his head).

Your aim is to hit a well struck golf shot that lands within the funnel. Give yourself 1 point for every ball that lands within this funnel. No half points here – it’s either in for a point, or it’s zero points for a miss.

Take 15 balls and try the following:

  • 3 shots with your 9-iron
  • 3 shots with your 6-iron
  • 3 shots with a hybrid/3-wood
  • 3 shots with your driver
  • 3 shots with a guest club – mix this up each practice session.

You have a potential 15 points to score. See what you can score, then each time you return to the golf driving range aim to beat that score.

If you would like more practice ideas and a great way to track your golfing progress, check out the Golf Insider Performance Diary

Golf notebook header

Golf driving range – Summary

There we have my perfect golf driving range routine. You only need to hit 50 – 60 balls but following this routine at your local range will really help you improve your golf. For more on practice on the driving range vs golf course check out this article.

If you would like a free weekly golf article like this one sent straight to your inbox, come join the Golf Insider weekly post.

Happy golfing – Will @ Golf Insider

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A PGA golf professional, with a PhD in Biomedical Science and MSc in Sports Biomechanics & Psychology. I currently spend my time lecturing part-time at Leeds Beckett University and working with elite athletes. In my spare time I build Golf Insider UK.

6 thoughts on “Golf Driving Range – How to Optimise Your Learning”

    • Thanks for the feedback Dan,

      I hope your golf is going well. Get in touch if there are any golfing topics you would like me to write about or help you with.

      Kind regards, Will

      Reply
  1. I want to learn the basics of the golf grip, I use the baseball grip. And you are correct, when I use the Right grip( It feels awkward ). I will keep trying the new grip. When I hit a few balls most of them went to the right until
    I slowed down my swing, will keep trying

    Reply
    • Good man Bruce,

      Building a great golf grip takes time, but will be well worth it in the long run.

      Use a mirror or window to check your grip once a month, as it is easy to slip back into old habits.

      I hope you are making fine progress with your golf.

      All the best.

      Will

      Reply
  2. I have a baseball grip. The traditional way is very uncomfortable for me. How can I improve my striking with this method? I’m okay, not great and just started back playing again after 10 years. I have a home driving range cage so I also can’t see my ball flight.

    Thanks and I hope to get some feed back.

    Reply

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