If you’ve ever been to a PGA TOUR event, you’re probably familiar with how well those guys can hit the ball on the range. It is often hard to find someone on the range who isn’t putting on a stripe-show.
And if you’ve ever been to your local driving range, the story changes.
All of a sudden, you see golfers skying their drivers, slicing balls out of the range, and several other shots that you didn’t know were possible. It’s far from pretty.
If only you could look like the pros…
In this post, I will be going through 7 of the most common mistakes that golfers make while at the range. I believe that by eliminating these from your practice sessions, you will spend a lot less time shaking your head, and a lot more time hitting quality golf shots. Let me know what you think in the comments!
#1 – Not Using any Feedback
The number one mistake that a golfer can make at the range is not using any form of feedback. They go to the range after watching some YouTube videos, excited to implement the advice given to them. Then, they spend an hour at the range trying to work on that one thing. Unfortunately, by the end of the session, the golfer has gotten worse, because what we feel is often drastically different from what is real.
What you think you are working on is most likely not what you are actually working on.
That is why we need some sort of feedback, which allows us to verify that we are actually improving our golf game.
The forms of feedback are as follows:
- Video (truest form)
- Swing Coach (unless your swing coach has no idea what he/she is talking about)
- Training aids (still a good idea to use video to ensure you are using the training aids correctly)
- Alignment sticks (the most essential training aid)
If you have no clue how to video your swing, how to find a swing coach, or how to identify the right training aids for you, I suggest doing some research online, or talking to a knowledgeable pro in your area. Also, I have written a short post on how to analyze your own swing on video for those interested.
It might sound intimidating at first, but I can assure you that you are wasting your time without some form of feedback (assuming your goal is to improve your game).
#2 – Not Warming Up before Hitting
Golf is a weird sport.
It’s difficult to severely injure yourself like other sports, but REALLY EASY to suffer from minor injuries.
If you don’t have a short warm-up routine before hitting your first golf ball, I suggest finding one. Here’s one that might help you make some friends out there on the range:
I know most of us aren’t quite as cool as Miguel, but he does set a good example for those golfers who believe they are immune to injury.
#3 – Hitting with no Purpose
Be honest with yourself. When was the last time you got to the range, and had a clear plan of what you were going to work on, and for how long?
Depending on your personality, planning out a practice session may sound terrible. As a competitive golfer myself, I still abhore the idea of planning my practice.
Despite this, I ALWAYS have a clear picture in my mind of what it is that I am working on.
Without this clear picture, the practice becomes lazy, which is the kiss of death for any golfer who is looking to improve his/her game.
Your purpose may be to pick a target and go through your routine on every shot. Or you might be focusing on a specific portion of your swing that day. Maybe you’re just working on alignment.
Whatever the case, have a purpose, and if you don’t, GO HOME.
#4 – Hitting the Wrong Clubs
You’ve got 13 clubs in your bag (I hope you’re not hitting your putter at the range). Although there is nothing wrong with hitting all of them during a range session, you don’t need to.
There are a few clubs in your bag that are going to give you a greater return on investment than others.
These clubs include:
- Wedges and Short Irons
By spending a majority of your time with these clubs, you might find your game improving at a slightly faster pace.
#5 – Too much of one form of practice
At the driving range, there are three types of practice:
- Realistic Practice – this is the type of practice where you are going through your routine on every shot, switching clubs frequently, playing imaginary holes on the range, etc.
- Repetition Practice – this is the type of practice where you are hitting the same club over and over, working on some component of your swing.
- Ineffective Practice – this is unfocused, with no purpose, and will make your golf game worse.
Ideally, you should be avoiding all forms of ineffective practice, and splitting your time among the other two forms. Personally, I spend about 50% of my time with each. If you don’t know what is optimal for you, error towards the side of realistic practice.
#6 – Hitting in bad conditions
You’ve likely seen this video before:
To the avid golfer, it’s tempting to practice in poor conditions.
The truth is, it’s probably not making you better.
A light rain is okay, but if you’re being blown over by the wind, it’s probably a poor idea:
On a serious note, here are the worst conditions to practice in:
- When the wind is strong off your back – this is ineffective to practice in because you will often attempt to compensate for the slice that is produced by the wind
- When it is less than 35 degrees outside
- When your glove is so wet that your club starts flying further than your golf ball
#7 – Letting Frustration Get the Best of You
You just can’t stop slicing the ball!
The biggest mistake that many golfers make at the range is continuing to hit, despite the fact that the last 10 shots have done the same exact thing, in the wrong direction.
This is a clear indication that you should be stopping, taking a video of your swing, figuring out what is wrong, and then restarting. If you aren’t experienced enough to do this all while still at the range, it is probably a good plan to just go home.
“Never quit” is dangerous in golf, because it convinces us to keep going past the point of effective practice.
Don’t be afraid to throw the towel in for the day at the range. Just make sure you’ve got a revised plan for your next range session. This might involve doing some research on the internet about the golf swing, or talking to your instructor. Whatever the case, don’t keep hitting if you’re producing the same awful result. That is the definition of insanity.
The driving range is a fun place to be, but we don’t always take advantage of our time there. I hope that after reading through this post, you will be better equipped next time you buy that large bucket of golf balls!