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Patch

Thoughts On How To Use The Driving Range

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I looked for this topic, but didn't see it. If it's a duplicate my apologies.

Golfers at all levels use the driving range for various reasons. Some just want to smack the crap out of the ball for no apparent reason. At the other extreme, some use it to better their game.

Ranges have flag poles, set at various yardages. Those yardages are determined from a set point. Sometimes more than one set point is used. Some ranges don't use flags, but the moveable signs with yardage numbers on them. The problem sometimes can be, depending on where the hitting stations are set up, those yardages may be wrong. 

An example is my home range. They use colored flags that correspond with painted numbers from a fixed point. Pretty easy, and most of us already know this. What some don't realize is the hitting station they are using could be  25+/- yards closer to the flag. The golfer sees the 100 yard flag. Pulls their 100 yard club, and proceeds to hit the ball 25+/- yards past the flag. If not careful, the golfer might think they have gained 20 yards with that club. What's even worse, they take those extra yards to course, and scratch a hole in their head trying to figure out what happened to those extra yards. The fix on the range is easy. Subtract the difference of the hitting station from the posted yardage spot. That 100 yard flag might only be 80 yards from the hitting station. 

Another scenario is the golfer who has a great range day, but once on the course, can't find the fairway to save himself. Hear it all the time. The problem is the driving range is probably 3-5 + times wider than fair way they are going to play. They are most likely hitting the same ball, but there is less room on the fairway. The easy fix is to make a fairway with in the driving range. Use a couple of flags down range that represent the width of a fairway, and land balls in the area between the two flags. 

I could add more stuff, but I will let others add their own driving range helpful hints. See what we can come up with in this thread, that will help other golfers

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I never use the driving range to calibrate distances.  You can't know the exact distance to the 100 yard marker unless you use one of those laser range finders, which I don't have, and even then, you're using those driving range balls. 

I use the driving range to try to practice hitting the ball solidly and in a direction I am aiming.  Really, that's the stage I am at, shooting in the 80s.  My biggest challenge is the hit the ball solidly and straight.  You definitely have to aim at something.  But I get my distances with various clubs from actual play with an actual nice new golf ball, not a range ball. 

I wouldn't do it if I didn't enjoy it, of course.  But I go out there and hit all my clubs, try to work on whatever I think I need to work on in terms of my swing (haphazardly, I admit).  Pull out the driver, try to hit it straight, pull out a short iron and try to hit the 100 yard marker.  Check my divots, try not to come over the top. 

It's not real serious.  It's mostly for fun, taking my time between shots, enjoying the nice weather this time of year, look up at the clouds, stop to watch some interesting bird fly over, turn around and watch people playing their second shots on #13, which is fun because it shows me that most of the golfers that play that course are worse than I am. 

Okay, if the thread is asking for helpful hints, here are mine:

Aim at something.  Don't try to calibrate your distances on the driving range.  Work on some aspect of your swing.  Above all, enjoy yourself. 

 

 

Edited by Marty2019

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I have different range sessions. If it's a pre-round warm up my best advice is to walk away! ...if you're hitting them solidly, leave the half bucket on the ground and go play. Nothing worse than snapping the first 10 balls smartly down the range and then spraying the last 10.

If it's an early in the spring I-can't-believe-the-F'en-snow-is-finally-gone session then I'm there for the warm sunshine and the fun of it all starting up again....just working on that 'ole keep your eye on the ball, turn properly kind of stuff...let the clubhead do the work etc.

Then there's working on fixing a particular problem. Then I think the best advice is to avoid fanning balls. Discipline yourself to hit one or two and then sir for a spell and consider what's working or not.

....and agreed that most range balls are shitty and trying to figure distances can be tough. 

Great thread op~

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3 hours ago, Patch said:

Another scenario is the golfer who has a great range day, but once on the course, can't find the fairway to save himself. Hear it all the time. The problem is the driving range is probably 3-5 + times wider than fair way they are going to play.

They also can get into a rhythm on the range. They are hitting shot after shot in a short amount of time. This allows them to fine tune clubface to swing path. I would say that is the biggest reason.

For me, I tend to aim over an intermediate target so I know the ball flight.

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I have good days and bad days with how I use the range and it always ties in with how much time I have available. If I've only got an hour's window, I tend not to use it well and just use it to keep things ticking over and stop my body 'forgetting' the swing. With the good practice sessions, I break them down into different sections. I try to give myself an hour and do the following:

5 minutes of warm-up - just hitting a few balls to get loose.
20 minutes of position and feel work - whatever my priority piece is.
15 minutes of target work with the full swing, incorporating those feels. One of the key things is also making sure that I hit 10 balls with driver, having a fairway count between two targets about 30 yards wide in the distance. I'm usually pretty good with this now.
20 minutes of short game work - either partial wedges (just getting in a groove with the swing feels - as @Marty2019mentions, there's little point in using the range for distances, but I know mine from the course and the Mevo) or using the short game area to do some pitching work.

I'm way better when I have a disciplined plan. If I give myself 40 minutes to just hit balls, I don't really accomplish much.

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In regards to the driving range distance markers, I usually zap a few with my range finder when I first get to whichever stall I am hitting from that day. I use it for more general ideas and the wedges, at my range you cant see where the ball lands on shots much over 150yds anyway.

I tend to split my range session into 3 parts. I got the idea from Rick Shiels on YouTube.

The first 1/3 is working on a specific swing thought or feeling. Slow, rehearsed swings, looking at video after every or every other swing, etc.

The second 1/3 is working on applying those swing feels (sometimes using video here as well) to full length shots with my irons and wedges. towards the end of this I will hit a couple drives and 3 wood/hybrids.

The final 1/3 is playing simulated holes. I start with driver, perform my preshot routine, identify a left and right flag that act as my "O.B." and then hit driver, followed by an iron or wedge. Then another driver, then iron/wedge. If I chunk an iron or hit an iron offline, i'll do a pitch/chip with a wedge just like I would if I were playing a real round. Sometimes I'll hit driver then 3 wood then short iron or pitch to simulate a par 5. Mixing the clubs up does two things for me. First, it somewhat replicates how you rarely use two of the same club on back to back shots except for putting. Second, it forces me to slow down because I have to go to my back and switch clubs every shot.

 

After reading @b101's, seems really similar to what I do just without the short game piece at the end. 

Edited by klineka

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I'd also like to say, it's important to take time between shots on a driving range.  When you're playing, you would never hit two full shots within 15 or 20 seconds of each other, much less 10 full shots within 3 or 4 minutes.  And yet I see people who pound their way through 100 balls like they have a plane to catch.  

When you do that, your body will react differently from the way it would on the course, where you hit full shots much less frequently, and your muscles get some time to relax and recover between shots. 

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I started using part of a range session to 'simulate' a few holes of golf.  So I'll 'tee off' with the driver, aiming between 2 flags as the 'fairway' and based on the quality of the drive, choose an iron for my 'approach'.  I'll pick a spot that corresponds to the distance for that club and try to get as close as possible. (I use my rangefinder to get some distances at the start)  This helps with making practice a bit more like play as well as slowing down since I'm constantly switching clubs and taking a few waggles to get the feel for the club switch before hitting the next shot.  It's also a bit more fun than mindlessly beating balls.

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Distances at a range are moot. Unless your range uses standard normal playable balls, you are getting cheated. Range balls (such as the Srixon Range Balls used at Randall's Island) are usually restricted distance balls. Mostly, I suspect, to keep people from stealing them and using them on course. Teaching Pro at the range says he he loses about 20-30% carry with full driver swings, while a normal Joe might lose 10-15%. I use the range for ball flight, contact, etc...

The markers at the range are shortened up by a bit to reflect this.

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50 minutes ago, Foot Wedge said:

I started using part of a range session to 'simulate' a few holes of golf.  So I'll 'tee off' with the driver, aiming between 2 flags as the 'fairway' and based on the quality of the drive, choose an iron for my 'approach'.  I'll pick a spot that corresponds to the distance for that club and try to get as close as possible. (I use my rangefinder to get some distances at the start)  This helps with making practice a bit more like play as well as slowing down since I'm constantly switching clubs and taking a few waggles to get the feel for the club switch before hitting the next shot.  It's also a bit more fun than mindlessly beating balls.

I've done that before.  It's an eye-opener, for sure, at least for me, because it's the same mixture of spectacular shots and craptacular shots that I get on the course. 

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Yesterday at the indoor dome my friend and I played a little game that made range practice fun.   Hitting in the dome only allows about 120 yards but we played target practice.   We hit 5 balls each time and aimed at a different target.   We accumulated points based upon the distance from each target and "Lowest Score Wins".   It made the practice very enjoyable.  

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I always have my range finder on my bag so I shoot the markers to know what they actually are.  Nothing worse than thinking your 100 yard club now goes 120 and dropping it in the pond at the course.

I start my bucket with my 5i and hit 3 shots. Then I do 7i, 9i and then 3w & D.

Now that I am warmed up, I play holes in my head hitting D the 5i then a chip... then 3w, 9i & 58.. you get the idea.  I have been asked a few times what I am doing and after explaining they usually say that's a good idea... better than smashing a whole bucket mindlessly with my driver.

I take my shag bag over to the chipping area and drop groups of 5 balls all over the place and try to get them within 6' - 8'.  After two shag bags of chipping (60 balls in the shag bag) I hit the putting area and do the classic 3 ball challenge from multiple spots.

 

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31 minutes ago, Marty2019 said:

I've done that before.  It's an eye-opener, for sure, at least for me, because it's the same mixture of spectacular shots and craptacular shots that I get on the course. 

Definitely.  Gotta grab the 5-iron after a bad drive or take your medicine and do a 50 yard half wedge after a fat 7-iron. It is nice to reward yourself with a PW after a pured drive though!

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Another issue to watch out for. Range balls are notorious for not going the distance. With that in mind, don't worry when your 100 yard club/swing only sends the ball 80-90 yards. 

Some balls will be damaged in some way, that they will show weird ball flights. Golfer might set up for a draw, does everything right, but the ball does something else. 

I always save the the newer looking balls for the very last. I also save others game balls that made it into basket till last. Warm up with the ratty looking one's. 

Range balls tend to have a mind of their own sometimes. 

 

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The issue I run into the range is staying focused when I don’t have “it”. For example...I go to the range to work on hit long irons and maybe trying to do the gate drill or something. However, a few swings in I am topping or duffing almost every shot and just get frustrated and start searching for causes and fixes...any advice on how to handle those days at the range?

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Range work for me is to work on 2 things only:  1) dialing in distances for scoring clubs 7i and down through wedges; 2) hitting full shots with longer clubs for contact reasons only.

Working on #1 means you have to have a range finder.  My go-to range has greens with flags that can be scoped to return accurate numbers.  The closest flag is usually 60-70 yards from wherever I'm hitting.  They also have greens with flags at around 100, 140, 170 and one out there around 200 or so.  I've gotten a lot of practice dialing in those scoring iron yardages at this facility.

Working on #2 item means I'm focusing on solid contact and direction with the longer clubs and that's about it.  Line up shots between greens and try to put them there.

What I see so many other players doing is smashing through a large bucket of balls with a driver and nothing else.  For me, it's put the ball in play off the team to set up the hole.  It's not like I drive it far anymore, but putting it in play off the tee is something I fortunately don't have to work on a bunch.

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20 hours ago, HJJ003 said:

The issue I run into the range is staying focused when I don’t have “it”. For example...I go to the range to work on hit long irons and maybe trying to do the gate drill or something. However, a few swings in I am topping or duffing almost every shot and just get frustrated and start searching for causes and fixes...any advice on how to handle those days at the range?

A few suggestions:

1) look at video.  That could tell you a lot. 

2) slow down and focus on fundamentals.  Be calm and analytical.  Think about what is happening and why it might be happening.  Take more time between shots. 

3) Relax.  Usually frustration leads to tension, which leads to more bad shots.  

4)  find a club you can hit, hit that one, and think very carefully about what is the difference in your swing with that club vs the clubs you are hitting poorly. 

 

 

 

 

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Heading to the range for the first time today. I have a 90yd wedge shot on my own property to a pin but it's time to see what the driver has in store for me!

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