In this article we cover some quick tips to help you make the most of your practice at the driving range. These are all super simple, but combined they’ll really help you develop as a golfer and make your driving range session more fun.
Driving range plan – Basic structure for 60 balls
Warm up (10 balls) – Use the first 5 to 10 balls to warm up, don’t worry how good or poor your golf shots are, just focus on getting loose and ready to hit golf shots.
Technical practice (20 balls) – Use the next 20 balls to work on aspects of your technique that will help improve your ball flight and performance.
Skills games (20 balls) – Next, play a skills game to make practice more realistic and represent what you need to do on the golf course.
Pressure practice (10 balls) – Finally, test your skill under pressure. Pick small targets, go through your full routine and see how close you can hit your shots.
- Warm up
- Use an alignment aid
- Plan your session
- Swing feels and ball flight
- Add skills games
- Focus on core shots
- Practice performance ≠ learning
- Be consistent
- Keep notes
1. Warm up
The first tip is so obvious and yet few golfers do it. Use your first 5 to 10 golf balls to actually warm up. Take your 9-iron and start by making small pitch swings (aiming to hit the ball 30 yards) and gradually make larger swings back and through until you reach a full shot.
This allows you to start your practice session with smooth, controlled swing that will feed into the rest of your practice.
2. Use an alignment aid
There is little point in trying to perfect your golf swing if you are not aiming straight. Golfers get obsessed with perfecting their backswing, and often, they aren’t even aiming in the right direction.
Placing a club or alignment stick in between your feet and the golf ball will provide a simple guide to check you are aiming towards your target. This is particularly useful when you’re aiming across your driving range mat for skills games (we’ll cover this in point 5).
3. Plan your session
This is another simple trick that separates elite golfers and those who go to the range each week but fail to get better. Before you hit a golf ball you should focus on why you are at the golf range and what you are trying to improve.
Is your wedge play the biggest weakness? Is it your driving? What direction do your poor shots finish? The goal is to then shape a practice session around the areas that will help you shoot the lowest scores.
The Break X Golf app does this for you. You enter some playing stats and it will create you a personalised practice plan that targets your weaknesses and quickest wins for lower scores.
4. Swing feels and ball flight
Most golfers try to improve their golf swing technique by focusing on certain swing thoughts and/or swing feels. A simple tip to help you make swing changes is to combine this with your desired ball flight.
If you tend to hit slices, focus on trying to hit a big hook. If you hit your iron shots too high and don’t compress the golf ball, try to hit 15 shots in a row as low as possible.
Combining these ball flight constraints with your swing thoughts will really help you change your swing faster and make changes stick!
5. Add skills games
Golf is not about having a perfect golf swing, it is about getting the ball around the golf course and to your target. The biggest win for any golfer who wants to shoot lower scores is to practice hitting realistic shots to targets on the driving range.
We call this skill development practice. Most driving range practice sessions should ideally include some sort of skills games.
We have over 100 skills games in Break X Golf, but here are a couple of great freebies for you at the driving range.
6. Focus on core shots
What are the shots that are really important for you to score well? Most golfers hit 14 drives a round, 18 iron shots and then a combination of shorter shots, chips and putts.
Focus on the clubs and types of shots you have most frequently on the golf course and work on these. If you don’t hit the ball a long way, or play on a long golf course it is best for you to practice your fairways woods and longer irons off the ground.
If you play a short golf course or hit your driver a long way it is best to hit more short irons and wedges.
Next time you play golf, take note of what clubs you hit and from what distances and use this to help you plan your practice.
7. Practice performance ≠ learning
A quick tip, but one that is very important to share after my 19 years of coaching golf and 24 years of playing. How you practice doesn’t reflect how much you’ve learned or improved from a given session.
I know this sounds strange, but learning occurs from making errors and practice performance isn’t the best guide of how useful a practice session has been.
So, when you’re hitting it great in practice, enjoy it. See how many great shots you can hit. When you are struggling, try to view it as a great opportunity to learn to control your golf ball when things aren’t firing on all cylinders.
Contrary to what you might believe, elite players don’t hit the ball well every round. Instead they are very good at getting the golf ball around the golf course when they aren’t hitting it well.
8. Be consistent
You wouldn’t expect to go to the gym once and see results. View practice the same way, if you want to get good, find a practice plan that fits your needs as a golfer and try to complete it every week for 4-6 weeks before updating and re-planning your next few weeks of practice.
This strategy isn’t sexy, but it will get you results.
9. Keep notes
If you want to eek a few extra percent of improvement from each practice session keep notes of what you did, feelings that worked, scores in skills games and notes for what to focus on next time.
This level of reflection only takes 3-5 minutes but can really speed up your development as a golfer. As with many things in life, doing the boring basics exceptionally well is the real key to success.
If you’d like more practice tips and a personalised practice plan built for you check out the Break X Golf app.
Frequently asked questions
We’ll end this article with a few of the most commonly asked questions about golf practice at the range. If your question hasn’t been covered feel free to leave a comment below.
What is the best way to practice at the driving range?
We’ve covered our best tips to help you practice at the driving range above. If you had to focus on three aspects we would suggest i) having a clear focus for your range session, ii) making sure you play skills games, alongside working on your technique and iii) not hitting too many golf balls, 50-60 is plenty, focus on quality rather than quantity.
How should a beginner golfer practice?
The advice above works well for beginners and experienced golfers. Our extra tip for beginners would be to find a local golf pro to help with learning the basics of a golf grip and posture. A little instruction can really help you speed up your progress.
How do you practice golf drivers?
We have a whole article on how to practice your driver at the range, just follow this link.
Happy practicing – Will @ Break X Golf