These thoughts are for folks who need a boost to get to the range….
Routines answer questions. Routines extinguish doubt and build confidence. Routines lend to stronger muscle memory. To achieve a level of what Zen masters call “no-mind” we must be so CONFIDENT in our stroke that we are no longer thinking. Others call this state “Unconscious Competence” - the ability to do something well without cognition. Ben Hogan admitted to losing sight of the ball immediately before the club struck it. This is a kind of “zone” - and if we’re to get “In the Zone,” we have to prepare for it! Too often, people see the range as a chore and the course as the fun. It’s time to change that perception.
Consider the phrase “build confidence.” How can you increase your level of confidence? Wouldn’t it be great to feel more often like you’ve got this shot? Like the fairway is wide open? Like the green is HUGE? This feeling comes with practice. Iterations are the mother of skill.
I don’t think people are necessarily averse to routines, but many golfers don’t play enough to feel a routine will change their game much. That is what is known as a “limiting belief.” Our goal is to change these limiting beliefs. Isn’t it better to maintain beliefs that things work? Since our mindset is connected to muscle performance, it is crucial to believe that our mental efforts have value. YOU MUST BELIEVE WHAT YOU DO WORKS!
The following are merely guidelines - use what works for you! It’s not so important to focus on the details; it’s having a routine that matters!
Warm-up: Start with any iron and do 20 half swings. Slowly work into the full swing over the course of about 20 swings. Get a second iron and keep moving. Research says that stretching should happen after moving a bit so doing some half swings and then full swings should prepare you for some good stretching. Stretch arms, shoulders, trunk/back, and legs for a few minutes.
The Basic Go-To Range Routine
Start with your highest-loft club and do the reverse technique - swing first and measure distance. Start with a half swing. Note the distance. Go to ¾. Again, note it.
The more you need a club (short iron), the more you should practice with it! Hit more short irons as you statistically use them much more often and then work your way through all the clubs until you finish with your driver. Left over balls? Hit shots you imagine you think you'll need on the first few holes (Driver, 5-iron....hole 2 is a par 3, so 7-iron, etc)...
Course Simulation Routine
Build a hole in your mind. Pretend it’s a 360-yard par 4. Create a fairway/OB line on the range and hit away - are you in bounds or out? Next shot, let’s say you’ve got a mid-short iron left. Create a green hit away (just count if it lands “on”). Play 9 holes or 18 and note your tendancies (Right, Left, Short, Long, Thin, Fat, etc)
Go get 'em!