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Is the driving range a waste of time?


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I mean, there are no consequences to bad shots on the range. Where does that happen on the golf course? Don't we just wind up beating balls? I've found that going out on the course for practice rounds and playing 2 or 3 balls is more effective. Uneven lies, water, trees, endless short game opportunities. And consequences. You can't lose a range ball. The driving range is a tempo killer as well.
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I go to try and develop "the" basic stroke and develop the muscle memory. These shots keep you in the fairway, so you avoid those side hill, under tree and awkward shots in the first place. MAny of those trouble shots are instinct, and you can't practice that. But as mentioned in other 'practice/range' posts. Don't just beat driver after driver. Pick a course you play often and can play from memory. Play the Driver, then an 8 iron or whatever as you would normally play the hole. IF you fade or hook one off into what might need a special shot, try that shot. The only time I'll "beat ball after ball" is those last 6 or 8 of the bucket. I really try and take out some aggression out with the driver- if only to find "the limit" of the swing.
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What I usually do at the driving range is to get a sense of the effect of changing a factor in my swing.  Example: maybe I want to understand better the effect of tee height on my drives.  So I will hit a few drives with the tee quite high, then at a medium height, then quite low. This gives me a feel for the difference(s) of varying tee height. May also do that with how far or close I am standing to the ball; what happens if I set up markedly further away, or then if I am markedly much closer.  Then I can see what effect the different positions have on my result. Etc.  I almost never go to the range to just hit balls, but mainly to test out the effect of swing variables.  An exception is after I have had a long layoff: just go hit some balls to get my body to remember what it is supposed to be doing.

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Much like RayG said, if you go to the range often and develop consistency you will avoid many of the trouble shots you find yourself in on the course.  If you are practicing only on the course then you probably aren't playing great golf.  How many tour plays avoid the driving range?  I don't have an answer but I'm going to go out on a limb and guess they all go to the driving range.  You can work on things at the range that would otherwise be hard on the course.

Me personally, I don't play whack a ball at the range.  I take each shot one at a time and analyze what went wrong, what went right, what I need to improve on, etc.  You can develop your game at the range better then at the course.  In addition to muscle memory practice you achieve at the range you can also gain consistency with new clubs you may have purchased.  Unless you never buy a new club, then in that case the range may be less beneficial.  I'm beginning to ramble, I think....I'm tired!!!  I think you get my point though

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Is a batting cage a waste of time? Is returning the serve from a tennis ball thrower a waste of time? Is it a waste of time to punch a heavy bag?

No. It's not the same as the real thing, but it is worthwhile in many ways. The driving range is the same.

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Originally Posted by RayG

I go to try and develop "the" basic stroke and develop the muscle memory. These shots keep you in the fairway, so you avoid those side hill, under tree and awkward shots in the first place. MAny of those trouble shots are instinct, and you can't practice that.

But as mentioned in other 'practice/range' posts. Don't just beat driver after driver. Pick a course you play often and can play from memory. Play the Driver, then an 8 iron or whatever as you would normally play the hole. IF you fade or hook one off into what might need a special shot, try that shot. The only time I'll "beat ball after ball" is those last 6 or 8 of the bucket. I really try and take out some aggression out with the driver- if only to find "the limit" of the swing.

This is a great idea! I'll give this a go next time im at the range.

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This is a great idea! I'll give this a go next time im at the range.

It also works great if the range is crowded and you're with a friend, as is often the case here in the NYC/LI area in the early spring, or the winter if there are heated stalls. You can have a match between you, which also helps to concentrate. We will also play a version of "H-O-R-S-E" once in awhile. Hit a fade around the pole, low draw, high stopper, etc... changes things up quite a bit.

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Originally Posted by Stretch

Yes, it's a complete waste of time. That's why professional golfers never go there.

This.

Also, chico, you're likely not getting as much out of "practicing on the course" as you think you are. Plus, what consequences are there if you're not keeping score? You may be getting a teeny bit more out of someone just bashing golf balls on the range, but you're getting way, way, WAY less than someone practicing properly.

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Driving range is like any other type of practice, you will get out of it what you put in.  As others have suggested, range time should be used to better understand impact of swing changes or simulate course play.  I use the same routine at the range as I do on the course so that it will eventually become automatic and not something I have to think about.   After a warm up I will play 18 as if I was on my home course, going hole by hole and picking clubs based on the distance each hole is and how far I hit each shot.

Obviously you can't simulate the shots on bad lies, in sand, under trees so you need real course practice time as well, but you can accomplish a lot on the range if your approach is right.

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I switched up my practice this year. I decided to leave my practice net in the garden all the time. When it's windy put it down. This has allowed me to think about what I'm actually trying to achieve. Distance being one factor removed,the other not worrying where my shots are going. Over in the swing thoughts section it was suggested that if you working on the right things in your swing then ball flight will take care of itself even hitting into a net. Without any visual reference you are relying on the feel and impact of your contact. I have got pretty good at predicting what I hit just by the sound and contact through my hands. Now when I go to the range which is now twice a month at most it's to see the result of my work at home. Because I'm confident in the mechanics I have practiced I know my shot shape isn't going to alter radically. Before the range was practice for everything and with only a couple of buckets to hit even once a week it's no wonder I haven't improved faster. Seriously got more done in one winter with my own net than in the previous 5 years.
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I think the range is fine as long as you keep calling it a PRACTICE range and not a driiving range . Use all your other clubs , then hit a few off the tee . Most of the ranges here in RI are not grass , but off mats . Those rubber "tees " are a waste , don't give you accurate height or course result .

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Pretty much the same thing everyone else has said. Personally I like to have a plan for what I am going to work on before I even go to the range. I need something specific to think about otherwise I am just beating balls.

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If you take as much time on every shot as [URL=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EH5QbczgF0E&feature;=player_embedded]Erik[/URL], you'll probably get more out of it than just hitting balls. I think you're better off with fewer swings where you make sure you do something different, than spraying balls and not being as focused on changes as you should. If things don't feel different, chances are good you aren't doing anything different.
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The range is one of my favorite paces to be.  I try to go with a plan, something definite to work on, especially if I found a problem on my last trip to either the course or the range.  I can't often spare the 5 plus hours for a round but a couple of hours at the range, hitting balls at my own pace and varying my shots, can be both productive and, for me, relaxing.  Recently I've had a problem with consistency in where I strike the ball with my irons.  For me the best place to fix any swing problem isn't on the course but on the range where I can work toward a solution at a better pace and with more balls than I can on the course.

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