Why are you perform better on the driving range rather than on the golf course?
This is probably the most sought out answer in golf. There have been a countless number of players who come to me for a lesson seeking the answer to: “Why am I so much better on the driving range.”
I have heard it all: “I am a pro on the range.” “I have no problems here but then on the course…” etc.
Here is the answer that most golfers have sought for many years, and it is not what you may think.
The answer is: You are not
If you’re one of these players, you are probably thinking that I am crazy. The blunt truth is that you are not better on the range, you just trick yourself into thinking that you are. If most players took one ball and went through their on-course routine, then hit the ball at a specific target, they would most likely hit it like you see on the course. Sometimes you may hit it a little better but let’s dive into why we get tricked into this mindset.
First, there are no consequences on the driving range. We are usually hitting in a direction versus a guarded target.
Imagine playing a golf course with no trouble, it would be wide open with a green and flag at the end. You could swing away and not worry where it goes and always have a clean shot toward the flag. You could hit it way right and still have a easy shot to the target. Imagine hitting the same shot at TPC Sawgrass or another course of that magnitude. If the ball is offline at all it hurts us bad. So we could hit the same shot but think differently about how we played.
Same holds true for driving range. You can hit a ball offline and there is nothing there to hurt you. It flies nicely through the air and lands with nothing surrounding it, just how we like it.
Second, you can try again. If we do not like the first shot, oh well, you have another shot. Most people are going to hit to the same target, with the same club. This is something that does not happen in golf. You have to hit a different shot, with a different club, lie, wind, etc. each time.
Players will typically just hit the same club over and over until they get into a groove. However, if you go to a different club and aim differently, you may see something different.
The trick to improving is to help you see reality. What do I mean reality? You have to see that you are not better on the range and if you practice differently, you will be better on the golf course which is what we all really want.
Here are a few simple rules to follow to get better right away:
1. Every shot matters.
You should treat every shot on the practice tee like it’s the last hole and your attempting your career best. The shot has to matter greatly and you should have great focus. Most players are actively practicing NOT focusing on the range and try to focus when it matters on the course. Change that now! Focus on every shot on the range and make it just like you will do on the course.
2. Simulate Golf
There are times you need to sharpen your mechanics but unfortunately that’s all some golfers ever do because that’s what we are taught. If you want to get better on the course you need to simulate and practice actually playing golf. To do this make sure you choose different targets and different clubs and go through routine every time.
3. Be Time Sensitive
It has become a noble gesture to be on the range for hours with no end. However, we tend to pass a point where we can focus, and then we are just going backwards. Make sure you set a time limit when you go. If you are going to practice for the majority of day, make absolutely sure you change what you are doing every 30-40 minutes. If you only have an hour, practice shots for 30 minutes and short game for 30 minutes. You can learn more about practice plans at www.thegrindapp.com.
I hope this article gives you some insight into the long sought out question. If you do not believe me then test yourself on the range. Take 1 ball out of the bucket, aim at a target, and hit a shot. How did you do? Try that with 10 shots to different targets just like you would on the course. See how you really do. Do not bail out and hit a 2nd ball if you don’t like the 1 you hit. You will see more of the truth then you can work toward improvement.
Cover Photo by John Seb Barber via Flickr
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