Pro Tips – Practice at the golf range ….

This is the first in a series of monthly columns by TSG Head Pro, Andy Clissold…

Golf Range Practice

Golf Range Practice

What happens when you go to practice at the golf range?

I’m guessing it’s a large bucket of balls and repeatedly hitting 7 iron and driver? Am I right? While this can be good when you have just had a lesson or have something technical to work on, but simply hitting balls won’t improve your golf.

I will briefly run through how to practice after a lesson and then go on to how to not only make your practice more enjoyable but also more effective for your golf.

Practicing after a lesson…

Yes, you do need to hit 7 iron, driver or whatever club your pro has told you to use, do the drills, and engrain the movement. This is what we call block practice – hitting the same shot, same swing, over and over.

It’s really good for getting the swing engrained and making a change but as soon as you are faced with a variable – an awkward lie, a longer club, a different wind direction etc., it can be counter-productive to keep making the same swing. When we play golf – we don’t hit the same shot twice…so why practice the same shot twice?

I like to have my pupils spend 50% of their practice session doing block practice after a lesson, to get a feel for the movement and make the change. The other 50% of the practice session, I like them to do variable practice.

Practice at the golf range

Practice at the golf range

Variable practice at the golf range…

If you don’t have lessons but love to get down the range between games – spend all your practice time doing this. Especially if you are playing well!

Variable practice is hitting different shots, creating different scenarios for each shot, playing games! This practice relates much more to playing golf and can create pressure like you will get on the golf course.

What can you do to have variable practice Sessions…

I am going to give a few drills you can do next time you practice but don’t be frightened to use your imagination – I’d love to hear any suggestions or variations you have tried yourself…

  • Drill 1 – Pick a target and a club – depending on your level, aim to hit, for example, 4/10 balls within 40ft of the target. Once you hit the goal, increase the number out of 10 or decrease the target size (i.e. 40ft down to 30ft). This will help you improve your focus and get you zoned in.
  • Drill 2 – Get 3 balls, aim straight and try to start one ball left, the next one right, and the third – straight! This will start to give you good clubhead control.
  • Drill 3 – Short game – play “Par 18”. Hit 9 completely different chip shots i.e. 3 chip and runs, 3 difficult chips to a tight pin, 3 average chips. Do one shot at a time and don’t repeat the same shot twice. The idea is to chip the ball to the hole and putt out. Record your score. The idea of Par 18 is each “hole” is a par 2 so you want to get up and down. Record your score and keep trying to improve on your score – a great one to do with a friend (loser buys the beers?).
  • Drill 4 – This next drill is great for better players but also good for higher handicap players to learn how to get out of trouble. 4 balls – 1st ball draw, 2nd ball fade, 3rd ball high, 4th ball low. Good for lower handicap players to shape the ball into pins. For higher handicaps you will learn how to hit different shots and maybe instead of chipping out the trees – you can produce your own Seve magic!

By Andy Clissold