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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  1. 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.

  2. 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.


  3. 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.

    • 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.

  4. 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

  5. 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).

  6. 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.