Do you like the idea of becoming a better golfer but struggle to deal with ‘Driving Range Dread’?
We hear you.
Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts to becoming the very best player you want to be. You simply have to put in the hard yards and be prepared to grind.
The path to peak performance begins with clearing your head and approaching the range with the proper mindset.
To help get you started, try these eight tips and techniques we’ve rustled together. Just remember to thank us when you win The Open...
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Get a lesson from a PGA pro
Sounds obvious, right? But let’s face it, getting a lesson and being shown how to do the right things right is the only way any golfer ever gets better. There is absolutely no point in smashing ball after ball after ball on the range if it’s only going to more deeply ingrain the faults that are keeping you from shooting lower scores. Remember: practice makes permanent, not perfect.
Set achievable goals
What do you want to get out of the game? A single-figure handicap? Money from your mates? A tour card? It doesn’t really matter what your goal is as long as you have one. Working towards a particular outcome focuses the mind and gives you something to work on. That will help you to stay motivated on the days that you just can’t stomach the grind.
Buddy-up at the range
Standing in a bay for hour after hour can be a lonely, tedious task, so take along a pal for company. Having something there to blether with or, better still, compete against, will break up the monotony of practice and will also help you to stay motivated.
Take aim at proper targets
It’s almost patronisingly simple to say that hitting shots at a particular target is far more conducive to good golf that just aimlessly battering balls into the vast abyss that lies beyond the bays at your local driving range. It’s why most practice facilities have various greens and yardage markers for you to take aim at. Pointlessly striking ball after ball into a wide-open field won’t tell you anything about your game.
Put a little money on it
There’s nothing like a wee wager to bring out the competitive side of your character. Whether it’s 50 pence or 50 pounds, the prospect of winning a bit of cash is an amazing incentive for just about anybody. So, why not integrate it into your practice? Take a friend along to the range and have a bet on who can get closest to a particular target from 100 yards, who can hit the straightest drive, or whatever. Practicing with a competitive edge prepares you for taking it to the course. Be sensible, though. Wagering your house and car against your ability to out-drive your pal is a mug’s pastime.
Don’t be scared to experiment
The range is the perfect place to experiment and try some new things. For example, why not have a go at hitting power-fades or low stingers? Sure, they might not be the prettiest of shots but you never know when you might need to hit one during the course of a round. Besides anything else, if you hit a bad shot, you’ll also get a better understanding of how to avoid them.
Don’t be afraid of the putting green
Before you next go to the range, take a couple of minutes and write down all the shots you hit during your last round of golf. Now work out what percentage of those were putts. If you’re anything like the average golfer, it will be around 30###/span#<. Now ask yourself this: how much of your practice time do you devote to your putting. If it’s any less than 30%, then it’s far, far too little.
Don’t worry, be happy...
If you’re not enjoying your practice, then you’re probably doing it all wrong. The vast majority of us aren’t tour pros, so we don’t have to worry about making cuts to subsidise our lifestyles and pay our bills. So, whilst you’re toiling on the range with a bad dose of the snap-hooks, take a ‘time out’ before an all-consuming rage engulfs you and remind yourself that it’s meant to be fun.
• This feature first appeared in issue 114 of bunkered. For more like this, take out a subscription to the magazine here. International subscriptions also available.