How to Make Your Time at The Driving Range More Interesting
The winter months can be the perfect time to work on your own game. Without the pressure of serious competitions on the horizon, you’re free to bed in your long-overdue swing changes, or work on the specific drills set for you by your instructors (or favourite YouTube coach!). However, many of us can struggle to maximise our time on the range, instead shelling ball after ball until our basket has been emptied. Whilst this might be hugely cathartic, it’ll be no help towards achieving your on-course objectives next season.
Instead, why not try some of our best tips for making your time at the driving range more interesting!
Play A Round
It’s an old-faithful, but one of the best ways to keep yourself entertained at the driving range is to play an imaginary round of golf around your favourite course. For most of us, this will include somewhere between 40-50 non-putts, the ideal amount for a solid range session.
The trick to this game is to be properly dedicated to the task at hand. If you’ve missed your hypothetical green by just five yards, then play the resulting shot, even if it’s just a chip and run. Not only will this give your short game a workout (as long as you play the shot properly), but it’ll also act as a deterrent for missing the target, as you begrudgingly chip your ball away to join those topped off the next mat by the four-year-old having their first lesson!
If you can implement this routine once a week, it’s a great way to set targets through the winter, with the bonus being the fewer shots that you take, the more you’re left with out of your basket to swish away at the end. Keep a track of your scores, and use this as motivation each time you’re layering up for another winter session.
Tiger’s 9-Ball Drill
Speaking of keeping track of your scores. Arguably the most famous range routine is the 9-ball drill, utilised relentlessly by a certain Mr Eldrick Tont Woods. The game is simple to explain, but difficult to implement - certainly with just 9-balls.
Imagine a noughts and crosses board ahead of you on the range. The goal is to hit a shot through each of the nine squares, preferably in just nine shots, with all balls finishing relatively closely together. That means hitting a low fade, low straight shot, and low draw - followed by a stock draw, fade and straight shot - followed by a high draw, fade and straight one. The 15-time major champion was notable for regularly completing this challenge with ease from an early age. However, we’d recommend hitting each shot in turn until you feel you’ve ticked off each of the nine squares, and then counting up how many shots it took. Next time, simply try and go one better.
Like the round drill above, be sure to be strict with yourself, after all - it’s only you you’re cheating by giving yourself a pass on one that was ‘almost’ what you were after!
Practice Your Escapes
How often do you get in the rough, or behind a tree and need to play a shot with some serious amount of shape? We’d wager a heck of a lot more frequently than you actually practice these shots!
Why not spend a bit of time this winter working on your escapes - be it huge hooks, low cuts, or super-duper flop shots. Not only is this fun, it’ll actually give you some confidence in your own abilities next time you’re faced with one of these situations on the course. Moreover, you’ll begin to develop even greater face control with your clubs, as you better understand the impact that manipulating the clubhead has on the outcome of the shot.
Take A Friend
Despite the different games and challenges, it still can be a little monotonous on the range. Particularly if it’s become a regular habit. Why not break up your routine by going along with a friend? This can be a great way to stay social throughout the winter, and may even push you both along to go in the first place. You never know, you might even be able to sneak a pint in afterwards!
It can also be immensely helpful to have another set of eyes on the changes you’re looking to make, particularly if they know your game well. And if nothing else, it’s a lot easier to ask them to film your swing than it is to carefully prop your iPhone up against your bag…
Get Acquainted With Technology
But if you can’t drag a friend along, then why not play against some virtual buddies with the latest technologies. Many driving ranges have now installed tech, such as TopTracer which will allow you to play different courses, challenges, and even compete virtually against other golfers. This can be a fantastic way to keep you engaged, and is several steps further on than our ‘imaginary’ round earlier on.
Portable launch monitors can also help to create these challenges too, with the level of sophistication within your practice only limited by the device you take along with you.
One quick watch out from us on utilising technology at the range though. Make sure to fully understand the types of golf balls you’re hitting. Many ranges use reduced-distance balls to prevent nearby infrastructure being peppered with Pro V1s! Even if your range doesn’t have reduced-distance balls, it’s likely that they won’t fly as far as the latest Tour validated offering that you may play on-course. Do ensure you take this into account, particularly if using the range to gather your distances.
Maximise Your Distance
Speaking of distance … the range is perhaps the best place to get longer. It’s no good smashing shots all over your local course on the weekend. Not only with this be very annoying for your playing partners (and others on adjoining holes!), but you’re unable to hit a decent number from the same spot. The range provides this opportunity, and if you can couple your distance and speed training with some tech to measure your improvements, then you can really make some good gains over winter.
It’s not just about hitting shots though, as the driving range can also be the perfect place to practice something known as overspeed training. Various training aids are now available, with Matt Fitzpatrick putting much of his recent distance gains down to his use of the ‘Stack System’. In a nutshell, these are weighted sticks, which you swing as fast as possible, which will make swinging your own driver an absolute doddle - provided you stick to the suggested exercises. You can, of course, do these away from the range, but for those of us without access to a sufficient outdoor space (or for those us trying to hide yet another golf training aid purchase from our partner), the driving range bay can be the ideal backdrop for your quest for distance.
Build In A Routine
Last but certainly not least. Why not use this winter to finally build a proper pre-shot routine. We realise you’re likely not playing for a living, but having a repeatable pre (and post!) shot routine, is one of the easiest ways to shave a couple of strokes. From the amount of waggles, to the picture you create in your mind, every single player on the PGA TOUR will have their own way of approaching the shot, and won’t pull the trigger until they’re 100% ready. We’re not suggesting you emulate the likes of Keegan Bradley and his two-minute dance routine, but you definitely should have something consistent that you can rely on for every single shot you hit.
What do you think? leave your comments below (Comments)