How to practice
How to get the full advantage from your time at the golf range
By Jon Woodroffe
The old saying “practice makes perfect” is sadly not true, practice makes permanent. So before embarking on these tips to help you use your time at the golf range to the best effect, it would be remiss of me not to highlight the importance of taking lessons with one of our highly qualified PGA golf instructors here at The World of Golf. The practice time you spend will bear fruit so much quicker if you are practicing the right things.
Range Practice for Beginners
How to develop your golf without feeling you are getting in everyone’s way.
World of Golf is the perfect place to develop your golf. Everyone that starts is understandably shy about their ability; they will tend to hide as far away from any other human being as they can. I always tell my students that nobody cares how well you are hitting the golf ball, because they have got more than enough problems hitting the golf ball themselves. The golf range is a great place to practice in anonymity.
When you arrive, tip the golf balls into the hopper but do not start attacking them just yet. Firstly take a moment to assess your surroundings. All the bays will be aiming towards one of the targets on the golf range outfield, so first of all familiarise yourself with what your target is. When aiming your shots on the golf range you will be influenced by the parallel lines of the mat, the bay boards and in fact the whole range building, so rather than trying to aim across those parallel lines, go with them.
Warm Up Exercises for the Range
How to stretch and warm up before you make any swings or shots.
When people play fast moving athletic sports they would have a warm up to prevent injury, but because golf is not perceived by the average player as an athletic sport they presume the same preparation is not necessary. This is not true, as you are using all your muscles at high speed in a twisting motion when swinging a golf club and the same care should be taken to warm up.
Place a club behind your shoulder blades, preferably a long iron or wood. Then make gentle 90 degree rotations to the left and to the right. The action of placing the shaft across your shoulder blades will cause your spine to be very straight and thus turning your shoulders a lot easier.
Take two clubs, ideally a 6 and a 7 iron, hold them together and gently swing backwards and forwards gradually increasing momentum. You will not be able to grip the clubs normally, but just hold onto them. The process of swinging the extra weight of 2 clubs will make the feeling of swinging one club very light and easy.
Which Clubs Should You Use?
Which clubs should you start with and why you should avoid the driver.
Most people make the mistake of starting their practice session by hitting the driver, justifying this choice by saying that on a course, the first shot you play is the driver, this is a very bad idea. Start your range session with some very gentle little chipping shots, follow this with a few pitch shots, then go from the shorter irons to the longer irons, thengen to the driver, and then go home.
An example is the warm up routine that tennis players use at Wimbledon – they start by tapping the ball across the net to each other going through volleys and smashes and then serves, gradually moving from the gentle shots to the most powerful.
“Only Perfect Practice Makes Perfect”
How to practice effectively and focus your drills and control.
Little but often is a good motto for using the golf range. I know time is short for all of us these days but practice is better in small chunks.Try to come to the golf range twice a week and hit a medium bucket of balls, rather than cramming your practice by hitting hundreds of balls in one session.
Have a pre-shot routine that you go through when you play and try to hit every shot on the golf range using this routine. It may require you to approach the ball from behind each time, do so, make each shot on the range a valuable exercise rather than just hitting as many as possible and feeling justified in your work, remember it is quality not quantity that will make your practice worthwhile.
If you are working on specific drills that your World of Golf PGA professional has given you, then take time out between hitting balls to practice those drills, this will reinforce the feeling of the changes that you are working on and will make the improvement occur quicker.
Practice your distance control on the golf range. It is imperative that you know what distance you hit each of the clubs in your bag and use the distance targets on the golf range to do this. Select the specific club required to hit to the yardage markers on the range outfield and take note of the distance you reach with the very well struck shots, not the miss hits. Remember when you play it is far more frequent that you will be hitting 7,8,9 and wedges to greens so hit more shots with these crucial clubs. Also when you are hitting at a green with a short iron you would expect to hit the target more often than if you were attacking with a 3,4 or 5 iron, so practice to get that precision.
Write down what those distances are for each of your clubs, they are a personal thing and then when you are on the golf course and you have a specific distance to the green, your practice at World of Golf will allow you to select the correct club for the shot required.
How to Use Your Bucket of Balls.
How to split the use of your range balls to make your practice more effective.
We suggest that you split your bucket of range balls you have up the following way:
- Short Game 50% of the bucket of balls
- Mid to Long Irons 25% of the bucket of balls
- Drives 25% of the bucket of balls
This will give you the lion’s share of the practice on the area of your game that will lower your score fastest, and yet still give you the enjoyment of hitting a lot of long drives.
Practice as if you Were Playing
How to use your range practice to improve your performance on the golf course.
If you are a member of a golf club, or play the same course a great deal, a very fun way to practice is to play 18 holes of that course on the range. Visualise the shot from the first tee, select the club you would if you were actually playing there. Play the shot and then assess from how the ball flew where you would have finished and the again visualise the shot you would have remaining and again choose the club required for that and play the shot again. Continue this process, including chipping or pitching to the green if your approach would have missed the putting surface, and then move onto the next hole and repeat the process. This is a really good way to help you score better on your own course and to allay worries about particular holes, as you will undoubtedly play them better in your imagination on the golf range than you may have previously done in reality.
Short Game Practice
How to use the driving range for short game practice
The most satisfying thing for most of us about golf is the sight and feel of a well struck drive, but whether you are Master Phil Mickelson or a brand new golfer, over 66% of your total shots in a round of golf are from 50 yards and in. The World of Golf ranges at Sidcup and Glasgow have two of the best short game practice facilities that you will ever find, please do check these out, you will lower your scores guaranteed by investing in practicing this area of your game at our facilities.
You should try to spend 33% of your practice time on the short game, the chipping, pitching, bunker shots and of course putting. As with the long game it is important that you are practicing the right thing, so please do book a short game and or putting lesson with one of our highly qualified PGA professionals and see how quickly your scores will lower.
About Jon Woodroffe
A fellow of the PGA, Jon Woodroffe is the UK’s number one expert in coaching beginners and in 25 years he has introduced more than 16,000 people to the game of golf.