Make the most of your (precious) practice time

Rule #1:

Don’t “rake and beat” on the driving range. The focus you bring to bear on the golf course when you really need it must be brought to bear on the driving range. It’s easy to get caught up in the repetitiveness of hitting balls over and over with no real purpose other than to generically “practice” and see your ball flight. However, such mindless repetition is the opposite of what we do on the course where 15 minutes can pass between strokes and we never play the same shot twice in a row. The mental side must be practiced as well including the “must make” iron shots to clear a hazard or to close a round well.

Solution: Do the same thing you do on the driving range on the course:  line up, take practice swings, pick a target, go through your whole routine. If you need to shorten your routine to make this realistic go right ahead. According to Pia Neilson, founder of the VISION54 philosophy, players should spend no more than 8 seconds in the play box.

Rule #2:

Remove Distraction. Chatting by others, or yourself, unwanted swing tips, and untimely text messages, and watching what others are doing all compete with your swing for your attention. Why focus on things that won’t help you get better while you’re on the driving range?

Rule #3.

Set Goals/Work toward incentives. Often I go to the course with the intent of “fixing my driver” but what exactly does that mean? Most likely that means I want to hit it straighter that I have been lately and that something I have been working hard on as drifted back into an older way of doing things. Set a goal and evaluate your progress on the range such as: “I want to hit 40 out of 50 balls straight”. Define straight by picking two points that represent an imaginary fairway on the range. Count the number of drives that land between these two points. Don’t work on anything else. Line up and take the shots as you would on the course, routine and all. Reward yourself for achieving your goal. Don’t punish yourself if you fall short, rather pick a more realistic goal for the next time you work on driver and try to diagnose what may be the cause of your problem. As a reward I might que up my favorite song to listen to later on.

Rule #4:

Don’t over do it! PGA coach and CBS commentator Peter Kostis says: “Always walk away feeling as though you could hit a few more balls”. Hit a reasonable number of high quality shots then leave the range or change to work on another aspect of your game. DO NOT keep hitting shots until the point at which your swing begins to deteriorate. Effective practice means stopping while you are ahead and ending on a positive note.♣