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Struggling to take it to the course? Try the “20 in 20” drill

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By Carson Henry, GolfWRX Contributor

Stephen, a student of mine, walked into the clubhouse with a desperate look on his face:

“I just don’t get it Coach, I hit every single shot that I wanted to on the range today. What happens to me when I tee it up on the course?”

As a golf instructor, this is a question that I encounter almost on a daily basis. And it is one that is relatively easy to answer.

To understand why some golfers seems to deteriorate on the short walk from range to tee, first we must look at the differences in atmosphere.  The driving range is usually about 100 yards wide and scattered with target greens and pins. Almost every shot hit on the driving range will be moving in the general direction of one target or another. Yet, if a bad shot is struck, there is no one present to witness, as everyone else on the range is preoccupied with their own practice.

When you move to the first tee, you are staring down a 40-yard wide fairway, maybe even smaller, and three other players are there to witness whatever shot your nervous swing may produce.  The sense of pressure this shot produces usually feels much heavier than any of the shots on the practice range.

In preparation for these pressure filled moments, golfers must recreate a sense of the pressure, and one of the most accurate way of doing that is by using a drill called “20 in 20”. The drill’s name comes from the practice of hitting 20 balls in 20 minutes, and is being used by many great players across the globe.

Properly executing this drill requires a few things:

  • Hit only 1 ball per minute (no more, no less).
  • Hit to a different target for each ball (never the same target back to back).
  • Hit a different club for each ball (never the same club back to back).
  • Every third shot have a peer watch you execute a shot (explain the shot to them before you hit)

Note: For more novice players, this may only mean hitting toward the intended target. For more advanced players, this should include trajectory (height) and ball flight (draw or fade).

Following these steps, the “20 in 20” drill will most accurately recreate a pressure filled atmosphere for each shot. Drill users will subconsciously know that they will not have another chance to execute the same shot following the first attempt. This will shift the bulk of the focus on hitting the next shot well, much like it would on the course. As much as it pains golfers, they must not give themselves another chance at the same shot, no matter how poor or embarrassing the first was. That kind of practice is best done before or after the drill.

I challenge you to try the “20 in 20” drill during your next range visit and see if you can do it. Trust me, it is much more difficult than it sounds.

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GolfWRX is the world's largest and best online golf community. Expert editorial reviews, breaking golf tour and industry news, what to play, how to play and where to play. GolfWRX surrounds consumers throughout the buying, learning and enrichment process from original photographic and video content, to peer to peer advice and camaraderie, to technical how-tos, and more. As the largest online golf community we continue to protect the purity of our members opinions and the platform to voice them. We want to protect the interests of golfers by providing an unbiased platform to feel proud to contribute to for years to come. You can follow GolfWRX on Twitter @GolfWRX and on Facebook.

18 Comments

18 Comments

  1. Andy Nelson PGA

    Mar 15, 2013 at 4:11 pm

    Good tip Carson! Is that the range at Methodist?

    GO MONARCHS!

  2. lobstah

    Mar 15, 2013 at 2:39 pm

    This drill was good enough to draw out my first comment as a member ! It is similar to a drill a buddy and I used to do on the range: We would create imaginary holes and play them.

    • Carson

      Apr 4, 2013 at 10:55 am

      That is virtually the same drill. Very difficult task to complete!

  3. Carl

    Mar 13, 2013 at 3:30 am

    Thanks for the great driving range/drill tip! More of these please, whenever possible.

    Going to try it out as soon as the snow melts here in Finland…

  4. Tasha

    Mar 7, 2013 at 10:43 am

    Anyone looking to try this sort of methodology at the range should look in to an app call Practice Pro Golf. Essentially challenges you to complete different shots based on certain criteria.

    I find it pretty useful if I can get myself to stick with it. My bf swears by it.

    NO. I DONT WORK FOR AN APP COMPANY!

    • Carson

      Mar 7, 2013 at 4:37 pm

      Great recommendation! Downloading now!

      -Carson Henry

  5. Drew

    Mar 7, 2013 at 10:15 am

    What a great drill!! Thanks

  6. Craig

    Mar 6, 2013 at 5:05 pm

    I have this same issue and I think the drill in the article helps I think it leaves out a good reason why this happens. Set up, posture, alignment, and ball position are very important to hitting consistently repeatable shots. I think when you are on the range you are able to unknowingly improve these aspects of the golf swing and magically you start hitting more consistent shots. When you get out the course you are forced to rebuild your whole setup for each shot. I think this drill helps in that respect because by grabbing a new club and setting up to a new target it forces you to rebuild your setup every shot. I think the key thing to do is realize that your setup is probably being groomed unknowingly while you are on the range so its something to work on and perfect.

    • Carson

      Mar 6, 2013 at 10:17 pm

      Great observation Craig, that is exactly the drills purpose. Creating a habit out of approaching/addressing each shot individually and uniquely so that it becomes second nature.

  7. Jive

    Mar 4, 2013 at 1:29 pm

    Ha, my dyslexia kicked in while ready this post and when I got to point 4, I read, “Every third shot have a Beer watch you execute a shot (explain the shot to them before you hit)”

    I think I will try that next time on the range, hope they have deals for 6 packs

  8. Gary Kimsey

    Mar 2, 2013 at 6:12 pm

    I very much enjoyed your “struggling” article. It is obvious that repeating a bad fundamental in a golf swing only makes it harder to correct later (as the HS coach has seen). I would think the final swing of the 20 should mimic the opening tee shot (confidence if you hit it well, “mulligan” on first tee if not).

  9. Ray

    Mar 2, 2013 at 12:25 am

    Thanks, Carson!
    Sounds like a great way to add some mental training to an otherwise mechanical practice.

  10. Nate

    Mar 1, 2013 at 1:04 pm

    I like this, thanks Carson. I’m going to do this with my HS golf team. I do my best to help them understand that beating as many balls as you can during their range time isn’t going to help them. This will work nicely in accomplishing that.

    • Carson

      Mar 1, 2013 at 3:58 pm

      I know that “beating balls” mindset well, my HS golf days were not that long ago. I’m sure they will enjoy the challenge, Glad to help!

      -Carson Henry

  11. purkjason

    Feb 28, 2013 at 1:36 pm

    Sounds like a very challenging but fun test for us all. Thank You

    • Carson

      Feb 28, 2013 at 2:40 pm

      You’re welcome. It is very challenging for most players, but the amount of improvement is exponential!

      -Carson Henry

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Instruction

Trackman Tuesday (Episode 2): Driver Loft

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Welcome to Episode 2 of Trackman Tuesday. In this weekly series, I will be using Trackman data to help you understand the game of golf in a little more detail and help you hit better shots and play better golf.

In this week’s episode, I look at driver loft. What effect does driver loft have on your shots and how important is it, really?

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How Far Away from the Ball Should You Be at Address?

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How far away from the ball should you be at address? This video is in response to a question from Tom McCord on Facebook.

In this video, I look at the setup position. I offer a simple way to check your distance from the ball at address with your driver, irons and wedges.

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Tour Pros Revealed: 3 Tests to See How You Stack Up

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You want to be better at golf, more consistent and longer off the tee. I am sure a lot of you would love to stop hurting. You would like these things with minimal work, if possible. You also want them yesterday. That about sum it up?

In the next 5 minutes, you’ll learn about the one thing that solves these problems for good. Before we dive in, though, I want to tee up three stats for you from my research.

  1. PGA Tour players can jump between 18-22 inches off the ground while LPGA Tour players can jump between 16-20 inches off the ground. Long drive competitors can often leap 30+ inches off the ground!
  2. Elite-level golfers who drive the ball 300+ yards can shot put a 6-pound ball more than 30 feet with less than a 5-percent difference in right-handed to left-handed throws.
  3. Elite golfers in the world can hurl a medicine ball with a seated chest pass just as far in feet as they can jump in inches (ie. a 20-inch vertical leap and a 20-foot seated chest pass).

What do these numbers have to do with you and your game? More importantly, what do these stats have to do with solving your problems? Let’s start by telling you what the solution is.   

Objective Assessment and Intelligent Exercise Prescription

Say that three times fast. It’s a mouth full… But seriously, read it two more times and think about what that means.

It means that before you act on anything to improve your health or your game, you need to objectively assess what the problem is and get to the root cause. You should use quality objective data to arrive at intelligent health and golf improvement decisions based on the long-term likelihood that they will be successful. We can’t just select exercises, swing changes or training aids based on what is hot in the market today or what the latest celebrity was paid big bucks to sell to us.

There is a reason why the infomercials you see today on Golf Channel will be different in 2 months. The same gimmicks run out of steam when enough people realize that is what they are… gimmicks. When looking to achieve your goals of playing better golf and/or having less pain, don’t just grab for the quick fix as so many golfers today do. 

We are in the information age. Information from quality data is power. Using this data intelligently, you can fix problems in a fraction of the time and at a fraction of the cost. Hopefully, I am giving you the power to make a meaningful and lasting change in your game. I’m sorry to say that most amateurs will not be hitting 300+ yard drives despite what the latest marketing ploy will have you believe. But, if you know what tests you can do to measure the areas that affect your distance off the tee, you can at least gain insight into where your biggest return on your time investment will be. 

This is where working with a golf fitness expert can be so valuable to you. Not only can they help you interpret your results from the tests, but they will also be able to prescribe you the most effective means to move closer to 300 yards from where you are right now.  

If you have a problem with your car not accelerating as fast as you would like or not being able to reach top end speed on the highway, I hope you take it to the mechanic and don’t just look up quick fixes on YouTube to see what you can do on your own. The reason you pay the mechanic to fix your car is because that is what they do all day. They will get it done as quickly as possible. More importantly, they’ll get correctly so that the problem doesn’t pop up again in 2 weeks.

A golf fitness expert is no different. Use them for their expertise and knowledge. Once you have a diagnosis of what is holding you back and a plan to correct it, you are on your way and won’t have to waste any more time or money trying silly quick fixes that never stick.

The three statistics mentioned earlier represent numbers measured across the globe by industry leaders and at our facility 3-4 times per year on hundreds of golfers each time. Our facility has thousands of data points. With this much data comes the ability to draw conclusions from objective assessments. These conclusions drive the intelligent implementation of successful solutions directed at the root causes of problems for thousands of golfers around the globe.

The first three statistics have an R-value of over 0.85 in correlation to clubhead speed. Translation: if you perform well in the first three tests with high numbers, you are very likely to have a high club speed. Further, if you improve in any of those three tests relative to where you started, you are almost assured to have a higher club speed than when you began (assuming swing technique and equipment is relatively unchanged).  

Keep in mind that in statistics, correlation is not the same as cause and effect. But when the R-value is that close to 1 and anecdotally you have seen the results and changes we have, you put some weight behind these three tests. So:

  • See how high you can jump
  • See how far you can shot put a 6-pound medicine ball
  • See how far you can chest pass a 6-pound medicine ball from a seated position

Doing so will give you an idea of how much power you have in your lower body, total rotary system and upper body respectively. Train whichever one is the worst, or train them all if you want. Rest assured that if you improve one of them, you will more than likely increase your swing speed.  

By doing these assessments and addressing the one or two weak areas, you will improve with the least work possible. Sounds about what you were looking for, right? If you are able to identify where you need to improve BEFORE you buy whatever is claiming to fix your problems, you will save lots of money and time. You will actually start to improve with the least amount of work possible and in the least amount of time possible.  

What’s next? After completing the assessment tests, start working to improve them.

  • Coming Soon: Lower Body Power for Golf
  • Coming Soon: Upper Body Power for Golf
  • Coming Soon: Rotary Power for Golf
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