Most golfers use the driving range as an excuse to be outside for a few hours with a small focus on improving their games. A player will drive anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour, pay the shop clerk for a bucket, set up a station at the range, and swiftly hit every ball in the bucket without so much as thinking, “how’s my tempo?” Unfortunately, this is as structured as range practice ever gets for some. Driving ranges have and will remain profitable businesses as long as golfers choose quantity over quality when working on their games.
An understated and underadvertised section of Golf Genie’s Practice Drills guide lays out 8 simple ground rules for an easy-to-follow practice plan. Those steps are:
1. Conduct pre-swing warm up.
2. Reference “Full Swing Checkpoints” and check swing setup and fundamentals.
3. Set up alignment station.
4. Loosen up and establish tempo and short chip and pitch shots.
5. Practice full swing mechanics with select practice drills for 4 shots.
6. For next 4 shots, incorporate practice drills mechanics into normal swing emphasizing fluid swing motion.
7. Continue alternating between 4 practice shots (drills and mechanics) and 4 normal shots (fluid swing).
8. Work on short game for half of session. Incorporate practice games for variety and challenge
Implied in these steps are principles often ignored by the majority of the golfing world. First of all, perfect practice makes perfect. That’s right. Just because you spend 20 hours hitting range balls does not mean you automatically get 20 hours better. In fact, some golfers spend those hours reinforcing poor swing habits and, dare I say, get worse. The solution; plan your practice and practice your plan. Golf Genie’s Practice Drills guide offers a general plan, which could help structure a successful practice session for a player of any level.
Second, hit each shot with a purpose. A large bucket of range balls can cost $15 at an expensive range. In return, golfers may be allowed to hit 100 mostly dimpled balls. This averages out to $0.15 per shot. Each shot may take a grand total of 20 seconds, so that’s $.45 per minute for a practice session. The last time I used something at that rate occurred before cell phone plans offered unlimited monthly calls.
To get a better return on the money you invest in a large bucket, plan on hitting each ball with a specific thought or purpose in mind. Steps 5-7 on page 57 of Golf Genie’s Practice Drills guide recommend this mindset. By switching between thinking about specific swing mechanics and thinking about tempo, players ingrain techniques and improve a little bit on every shot. To take it a step further, players should switch targets every four shots as well. Naturally, if a player hits too many balls at the same target, their mind will eventually wander to something outside of the specific purpose of the shot. To ensure getting the most out of your practice, hit every ball with purpose and change that purpose often.