When it comes to golf practice, there’s no better place to refine your shots than at the driving range. Golfers hit the range, naturally, to practice long-distance drives (hence the name) and fairway shots on variable terrain, but also to practice chipping, putting, and dealing with sand traps. Driving ranges may be stand-alone facilities or they may come attached to a golf course. In the case of the second type, you can get in a valuable warm-up before starting an actual round. However, while driving ranges are ideal spots for strengthening your golf game, you won’t make significant gains in your skills if you visit them without a strategy. We explain how to get the most out of your visit to the driving range with several suggestions on what to work on while there.
Start off With Some Stretching
Upon arriving at the driving range, you should stretch before beginning your practice. You’ll loosen up your muscles so that when you swing, you’ll be able to comfortably follow through the complete range of motion. In turn, you’ll also prevent injuries to your neck, back, arms, and legs that arise from suddenly extending yourself. Start by walking around for around five to ten minutes so your body can warm up. Then proceed to stretch.
You have many choices on what you specifically do. Motions such as touching your toes, twisting your body from side to side at the core, and basic shoulder and arm stretches should prove useful. They target the hamstrings, lower back, upper back, shoulders, and triceps, all of which you will use while swinging.
Improve Putting by Using One Hand
You may not cover much distance with putts, but they’re crucial because you need a good short game to win a match. As the saying goes, “Drive for show; putt for dough.” So you should utilize the driving range’s designated chipping and putting area to improve your short-range game. A way to get a better feel for the motion is to take away your nondominant hand and putt with the other.
Aim at the hole and do your best to stay on your target line as much as possible while controlling the distance the ball travels. In taking away one hand, you’ll have an easier time using your shoulder in the putting movement rather than just your arms. This will help you to develop a more consistent putt.
Segment Your Practice Routine
Repetition is undeniably indispensable for practice, but you should also bring in variation to your driving range sessions. It’s easy to start getting sloppy with your form or get stuck making the same mistake over and over if you only perform one type of swing the entire time you are there. Segment your practice routine by performing a limited number of swings with each club you own and/or a limited number of swings at each specific target you aim at on the range.
By drawing clear breaks like this, you will stay more mindful about how you’re swinging and spot problem areas more readily. Keeping your practice sessions comprised of different types of swings and different targets will also make them more fun. It can also help to count the number of successful shots that fall within a certain range from your targets so you can track your progress and motivate yourself.
Work on Your Takeaway
The takeaway is the beginning of your swing where you move your club back from the ball. A good takeaway sets you up for a strong backswing free of postural compensations that cause you to hit the ball inaccurately. You should therefore concentrate on improving your takeaway so you can perfect your angle of contact with the ball. The one-handed putting drill that we mentioned incorporates an idea that you can carry over to longer-distance swings in that it makes you use your shoulders. In your general takeaway, regardless of the type of swing you are performing, your shoulders and torso should direct the movement and not your arms or wrists. Thus, your hands shouldn’t be leading the takeaway.
You also want your clubface to move squarely, or straight-on, relative to the ball so that it goes where you want it to. If the face is angled closed (toward the golfer instead of perpendicular), it will veer off to the left, or hook, while an open face (turned outward from the golfer) will cause the ball to fly to right, or slice. The opposite is true in terms of direction for a left-handed golfer, but the idea remains the same—you don’t want the ball curving to either side when you’re trying to hit straight ahead. Check to make sure that your left thumb is pointed up in the backswing and that the back of your left hand faces forward (the same direction of the clubface) rather than at the ground or at the sky when you hold the club level with the ground. These indicators should help you to work out the kinks in your takeaway and your swing as a whole while on the driving range.
Practice Your Bunker Shots
An additional part of how to get the most out of your visit to the driving range is to utilize the bunker hazards that the designer has set up there. As you play golf, you’ll inevitably come to a moment where you wind up in the sand. If you don’t prepare for this situation, you may wind up tacking several strokes onto your score as you try to get out. In the driving range where there are no score consequences and you can take your time, you can practice bunker shots quite effectively.
One approach to polish up your recovery swing is to place a dollar bill on the sand with your golf ball in the middle of the bill. Swing your club and attempt to hit the ball out of the bunker. Afterward, inspect the divot in the sand you’ve made and compare it to the bill. They should be about the same size. You should be able to advance the dollar bill several feet out of the bunker with practice.
To visit a golf course with a driving range, a short-game practice area, and golf lessons in Las Vegas, contact The Club at Sunrise. You can put our tips to practice there and maybe win a dollar or two next time you’re on the course.