In this edition of Golf Tips, we veer off on our way to the first tee and head to the driving range. A select few of us will ever be considered Pro’s on the range. That doesn’t mean that you can’t act like one when you are there.
2019 will be my sixth year coaching high school golf. I learn more about the game every year, and along with that comes people asking how they can improve on the course. One of the golf tips I am always happy to pass along is how to act on the driving range.
Golf already takes up a fair amount of time if you are going to go out and play a full 18. When it comes down to it, adding 15-30 extra minutes to that time by heading to the range is going to pay off much more than you think.
I don’t know about you, but I’m not the youngster I once was. I used to be able to step up to the first tee without really warming up, grab the driver, and let loose a full swing. I’m not saying it would always find the fairway, but my body was already ready for golf.
As we all age, and even for the youth, a trip to the range should always be on the schedule before you start your round. If anything, warming your body up so you don’t hurt your back or shoulders is worth the trip.
Spending as little as that 15 minutes on the range can make a huge impact on your round. Especially if you are taking it serious. Finding a way to translate success on the range to success on the course will improve your confidence tenfold. There are plenty of ways to do it, and the first one starts on the ground.
Think about how many people visit the range in a week, or even a day. It’s a lot of people. If you are picking random spots to hit your ball from every time, you are creating a mess for yourself, other golfers, and the grounds crew as well (who we should all be helping out). What you want to do is make a line going backwards, so your divots end up single file.
The benefit is twofold. It keeps the range clean and the crew happy. Just as important, you can see the line and path of your swing. If you are going inside out or vice versa, you will be able to tell by the angle of your divot. When you are picking random spots, it can be tough to get a feel for your swing, as there isn’t a clear history of what your impact looks like.
Another thing that I can’t stress enough is rotating clubs, and doing it constantly. I don’t mean on every swing, but unless you are there for the sole purpose of working on a particular club, you should be switching clubs every 5 shots or so.
Again, there are multiple benefits here. You won’t tire yourself out by swinging the same club over and over. Switching clubs also helps you get ready for your round by constantly switching up what you are aiming for, and the distances you are hitting. Most people can get a few good balls in a row with 25 swings with their seven iron. Hitting a few nice shots with the seven, the four, a wedge, and a three wood feels better, and translates better as well. Getting in the mindset of thinking out your shots on the range, and working through the process of different swings sets you up fantastically for the first tee.
Please, please, please do not go to the range and only hit your driver. Unless you are a single digit handicap, there is no reason to waste a whole bag. You are going to get tired, and you are going to make picking up golf balls a pain.
The last of today’s golf tips for the range is to be mindful of those around you, and even the range you are at. This isn’t a weight room, so don’t be grunting on your swings and bothering people. Even if you hit your five iron 200 yards once, it doesn’t mean you will do it every time. It’s called clubbing up for a reason.
If you have trouble with a slice, and are at a range with holes next to it that you could hit into, adjust your aim. Yes, you may put a bunch of balls down the left side (or right if you’re a lefty), but you wont be putting any into someone’s unsuspecting ribs. No one wants that. If you are helping someone learn how to hit, go to the edge of the range. Everyone has seen people launch a ball 90 degrees sideways off the tee. You can avoid hitting someone by moving to the edge.
A lot of these may sound simple, items that people should be doing already. More often than not, the average golfer could benefit by taking a bit of time at the start of their round to warm up, visualize, and treat the course a little better. Whether you like to believe it or not, preparing and being nice to the course is only going to help in the long run. Even if it does take an extra 15 minutes.