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.
Table of Contents
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:
- Minimise the chance of injury.
- 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.
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 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. Or for an off-season guide check out this article on how to practice golf in the winter.
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Happy golfing – Will @ Golf Insider
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