If you were thinking of popping in to see us for a spot of practice, the driving range is the obvious option. However, we’ve noticed that golfers often use the driving range without a clear purpose or strategy, so don’t get as much out of their practice sessions as they could. Our very own PGA Professional, Joe Feather, has put together a few tips to help you get the most out of your time on the driving range, including using top-of-the-range Toptracer technology that you won’t find anywhere else in West Yorkshire.
1. Warm up properly
Stretch out your hamstrings, quads, back, arms and neck before you even hit a ball. You may feel a bit silly, but having a good old stretch before you begin will enhance your feel and performance from the very start of your range session. This can also help prevent any little niggly injuries.
2. Start short
Start your range session with some short pitch shots; half swings with a sand wedge or pitching wedge. This will help build up feel and strike, and allow you to find a nice tempo for your range sessions.
3. Hit to a target
This may sound obvious, but I see so many people on the driving range hitting shots with no clear target in mind. This gives you very little feedback on the success of your shot, and allows bad habits to creep into your technique and mentality. How many times would you hit a shot on the course without aiming correctly? Hopefully none! So, use the driving range to nail your aim.
4. Master the basics
For the experienced golfers, I see a lot of you down on the range working on some very technical stuff, which is great! I love to see people striving to improve their technique. But very often, I’ll see you doing the complicated stuff really well, but letting the simple things slide. Stay on top of your grip, alignment, posture and ball position, and this will make your shots far more effective. Put a couple of clubs down for your alignment and ball position and be sure to check your grip after every few shots.
5. Break up your practice
Don’t hit 100 balls to the same target with the same club. Change your target or club, at the very least, every 10 balls. This will help you to analyse that batch of shots and will remind you to check your basics several times over the course of your practice. I like hitting batches of five balls. I count how many I struck well and hit the target, and then I try and beat that ratio in my next batch of five.
6. Use Toptracer to track your progress
Leeds Golf Centre is the first in West Yorkshire to use Toptracer technology – a virtual golf tool that gives you bags of great insights into your game. You can use the virtual golf feature, a great way to help you change your club and your target on the range. As you will be faced with different distances and styles of shot each time you hit a ball, this is a great way to have an effective practice. I would advise changing your target using the ‘range map’ so that you are hitting shots across the range to flags at approximately the distance of the shot you face on virtual golf, rather than just hitting all of your shots in the same direction.
My favourite feature is ‘what’s in my bag?’, which gives you very valuable feedback as to how far you hit your clubs. If you’ve downloaded the app and set up your profile, simply select which club you are hitting, and all of your shots hit with each club are recorded and saved. This gives you factual data as to how far you hit each club, allowing you to manage your game out on the golf course far better than before.
7. Challenge yourself
Have a purpose to your practice and challenge yourself to improve! I will often do all the following during a practice:
- Pick two points to hit between to simulate a fairway on the course
- Hit five drives and see how many out of 5 I get.
- Shape my shots. I try to hit five from left to right, five from right to left and five dead straight. Again, count the rate of success and try to beat it next time.
- Play games against myself. This really brings out heightened focus and concentration. See if you can start with a sand wedge, and just hit one shot with each club in your bag. Try and hit the target with all of them, and if you miss, then go back to sand wedge and start again.
8. Go with a friend
Having a partner to go to the driving range with can really improve you range experience. Challenge each other to little competitions and try to help each other with your basic skills and techniques.
9. Practice your pre-shot routine
If you don’t have one, then you should start building a pre-shot routine ASAP and practice it on the range. Find a nice process or ritual, from how you walk into your shot and take your stance, to the lead up to your swing. You’d be amazed how much more comfortable you’ll feel on the course when your pre-shot routine is consistent and well drilled.
Remember, practice makes permanent, so if you repeatedly make the same errors during your range sessions, they could be counterproductive and you won’t be on the top of your game once you’re out on the course. If you follow the steps above to improve your game on the driving range, you’ll get way more success out on the golf course!