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Best way to improve, on course, driving range, both?


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#1 Middler

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 10:49 AM

Just completed my first season back after a 15+ year layoff, so I am still rebuilding. Just wondering how others mix on course play with the driving range, etc. I describe my routine below not to offer it up as a good template, but to solicit ways I can improve more effectively.

Last year I had 18-hole league play once/week, played 9 (sometimes 18) alone for practice once or twice a week, and hit the driving range once or twice a week. So was hitting balls 3-4 times a week.

The league play was definitely a highlight, next year I'm going to play a local weekly league and an every other week traveling league. I keep stats on every round (strokes, putts, nGIR and % fairways - or right/left).

I'd prefer play/practice on course to driving range. Like some, I try to approach the driving range with some focus, but I find myself not making progress and mindlessly hitting balls some times. But I went to the driving range at least once a week last year regardless. Some days I was consistent on the driving range, some days not at all, rarely if ever knew why...

My on course practice was usually hitting 2-3 balls from every location, I rarely keep score. I often dropped at specific distances to check my distances (hit 3 balls from 150 or whatever length to check my club distance). Often hit 3 long and 3 short approaches into greens for practice. I usually hit 2-3 drives. My focus with on course practice is mostly on full swing shots, on some holes I don't even putt. I do make a point of hitting out of greenside bunkers (I just throw a ball in) and some pitching/chipping - for much the same reason as below.

When I practice putting I only use one ball. To me putting is about reading putts as much as alignment and distance, so hitting 3 or more balls from one location never made sense to me - there's no reading after the first attempt. Same with chipping/pitching/sand shots in my view. Once I've attempted a chip, subsequent chips don't resemble on course where you don't get a first attempt to learn from.

Anyway, I look forward to suggestions.

I did start taking lessons from a pro about halfway through the season, and found that to be invaluable. Helped me focus on what to work on, and he provided drills to help me along. I will definitely continue with lessons next year, best money I spent on golf last year.

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#2 MrJones

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 11:08 AM

On course practice like you describe made a big difference for my game this year. The only time I really work on the range anymore is with driver.
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#3 davep043

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 11:17 AM

Generally, it sounds like you have a reasonable plan.  For a typical golfer, something like 2/3 of your improvement will come from improving full-swing game, 1/2 from short game and putting.  If you're getting good instruction, and practicing the way your pro is telling you, your full swing stuff should move along pretty well.  You may also want to work with your instructor some for chipping, pitching, and putting.  You can find online drills for each of these, but in-person work is better, in my opinion.  Green reading is a separate skill,  but its important.  I took an Aimpoint clinic, and found that it improved my green reading skills.  Pay attention to your putting, see whether you have a specific weakness in either hitting your intended line, or hitting it the intended distance.  There are drills that work on each of those.  Sometimes, a player will have problems lining up properly, and a putter fit specifically for you can help.  Good luck, have fun!

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#4 3 Jack Par

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 11:57 AM

I think it depends on how your brain works.  I'm kind of like you in that I find it hard to focus for long when beating balls on the range. I think in order to make range time worthwhile, you need to approach it with a goal in mind, and focus your practice on that goal. Instead of just going through the bag mindlessly hitting balls, focus on your rhythm, or if you're struggling with long irons, spend your time working on those. For me, I've found that it's more productive to hit fewer balls, trying to focus on each shot, rather than paying attention for 10 shots, and then start worrying that I need to get to wherever I'm going next, and just beating the rest of the bucket without focus.
I went through a swing change last winter (changed my ball flight from draw to fade), and the range time was helpful for that, but the change honestly wasn't that difficult, at least getting the ball to go the opposite direction.  But when I would take it to the course early on (we had a mild winter, so I got to mix in some actual course time), it was hard to trust it, and to start seeing the line that I needed to hit it on with the opposite ball flight. So, once the season really started and playing regularly was an option, that's mostly what I did.  I barely spent any time on the range last season, other than to warm up before a round, and I found that was a lot more useful in learning to play with my new flight, and I think it helped me feel like I made a pretty big improvement over last year.
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#5 Shakester

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 02:46 PM

I was a 5 handicap when I quit the game before taking it back up two years ago.  I took about a 7 year break from the game.  My first few times back at the course, my swing was still okay.  It was good enough to get me around the course.  Where I struggled was around the green.  When I goto the range, I always notice that the short game area is always empty while the range itself was packed.   Knowing I wasn't going to hit many greens in regulation early on, I focused on my short game, hoping to scramble for enough pars in a round to put up a decent number that would give me confidence moving forward.  In 3 rounds, I was back to playing bogey golf.  My swing eventually worked its way back, albeit I had to learn all my distances again since I'm now older and don't hit as far.   After 2 years, I'm not quite at a 5, but I'm back in single digits.

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#6 juststeve

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 04:08 PM

To improve your golf swing go to the range.  To become a better golfer play a lot of golf.

Steve

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#7 Sean2

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 04:23 PM

It depends on how your practice. If you practice with a purpose, with specific goals in mind, than practice can be very valuable.
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#8 Mcgeeno

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 05:56 PM

I had a pretty diligent routine this year that cut my cap down from 5.X to 2.3

I'm lucky that I got to spend 6 days a week at the golf course though so its not viable for everyone obviously.

I played a minimum of 2-3 rounds of golf. On Tuesday it was ladies day for nine holes and the course is pretty empty so I would go out on the opposite nine and play 4-5 balls working on course with certain scoring shots. Wedges from a weak area, tee shots that bugged me, certain tricky driving holes. Difficult chips on course etc.

The other two days would be spent on the short game area. I might hit 40 balls a week on the grass range. Minimum 2 hours a week putting. Nobody does this. The putting green is always empty. I think this was the main game changer for me. I turned myself from a mediocre putter to a good one with sweat and work.

In years past I went from a 5 day a week range rat who worked on grip, positions and impact to a guy who learned how to really score.

5 years prior I had 12 rounds under par total. This year I had 11 rounds under par at my home track (Including the second day of our club championship) I had an under par tournament round out of town and a career low 64.

I think getting on the course and hitting real shots is very important.

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#9 Cicero

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 07:43 PM

Like some others have alluded to, if you don’t know how to practice properly, you could hit a ton of balls without necessarily getting much better.  

It wasn’t unusual for me to spent up to 4 hours at the range; I loved beating balls.  But I didn’t really see as much improvement as I did when my playing frequency increased.  I still love to beat balls, but it doesn’t translate to better play the way actually playing does.

I guess it just depends on the player, like almost everything else in this game.

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#10 Mcgeeno

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 08:41 PM

View PostCicero, on 10 January 2018 - 07:43 PM, said:

Like some others have alluded to, if you don’t know how to practice properly, you could hit a ton of balls without necessarily getting much better.  

It wasn’t unusual for me to spent up to 4 hours at the range; I loved beating balls.  But I didn’t really see as much improvement as I did when my playing frequency increased.  I still love to beat balls, but it doesn’t translate to better play the way actually playing does.

I guess it just depends on the player, like almost everything else in this game.

Nice post brotha.

I know what changed in my practice (from 5 day range rat to play more/short game etc)

Was I accepted I had a big swing flaw. Dipped my back shoulder and came from way inside. I could play a big slinging hook and score ok, but hitting 500 range balls with poor form and a big flaw didnt help me.

Now the 1-2 times a week I go to hit balls, its 50 tops. Full routine, working on fixing my flaw. Its noticeable to me on camera now and its only improved 2-3 inches over a year. But I am conscious and aware of my flaw and have to work on it with a 2x4, the pause drill, a water bottle, head cover etc to ingrain real changes and straighten my ball flight.


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#11 PowderedToastMan

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 09:00 PM

View Postjuststeve, on 10 January 2018 - 04:08 PM, said:

To improve your golf swing go to the range.  To become a better golfer play a lot of golf.

Steve
Steve, I love your posts, but this is WAY oversimplified.
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#12 Nard_S

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 10:23 AM

For me, the pitfall of being a range rat is that the perspective is skewed in several ways from play conditions. Direction control suffers because what looks good on the range often means trouble on a tight hole.
But the biggest liability is that the establishment of rhythm and tempo is taken too casually, so I might take a dozen swings in several minutes to start feeling grooved.. On the course a dozen swings means 5-6 holes and can take an hour plus, and by then round is half in the tank. FWIW, nearest range is 1/2 hour from where I play.

As a range rat, I'm augmenting things a bit. Rhythm, balance & target are primary objectives. Also, they get audited at beginning and and at least once again during session via a simulated game or quantifying FIR & GIR  percentages. The in between time can be spent delving into points of focus but target rhythm and balance reign throughout.

Took a long time appreciate this irony but  foundation of tee game is really about direction control and foundation of short game is really about distance control. Getting those right in practice efforts then allows to pound off the tee and drain the putt.

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#13 MountainKing

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 10:32 AM

I only have so much time a week for golf.  If I had 2 hours I'd rather play 9 than sit on the range.  I've cut back significantly on the amount of time I spend on the range and I think overall I've gotten much better.  I used to be a giant basket of balls guy but now I stick to something in the 30-50 ball range when I do go. I really make each one count, and like others said have a goal for those shots and really focus on the clubs that impact scoring.

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#14 GMR

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 10:37 AM

For me personally, neither.  I improve the most in the short game area.  Play a single ball from anywhere from 5-50yds off the green down into the cup (including putting it out)--it's the best of all worlds.  You get many of the benefits of the course (learning to get the ball in the hole, uneven lies, rough/sand/etc.) while at the same time getting a ton of reps like you would on the range. And not only that, the work you do learning to consistently strike your partial wedges seems to carry over at least somewhat well to the rest of the bag.  If I have two hours to practice and want to make the most progress on my game in that period of time, the short game area is where you will find me.

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#15 davep043

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 10:50 AM

View PostGMR, on 11 January 2018 - 10:37 AM, said:

If I have two hours to practice and want to make the most progress on my game in that period of time, the short game area is where you will find me.
I absolutely agree with this, with limited time, you can improve fastest by working on short game and putting.  You'll also hit a wall on this, you can only get so good.  If you can get to something better than 50% up and down, and 50% putts made from 8 feet, you're close to touring pro level.  To get further, you have to improve your full swing game.


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#16 GMR

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 10:53 AM

View Postdavep043, on 11 January 2018 - 10:50 AM, said:

View PostGMR, on 11 January 2018 - 10:37 AM, said:

If I have two hours to practice and want to make the most progress on my game in that period of time, the short game area is where you will find me.
I absolutely agree with this, with limited time, you can improve fastest by working on short game and putting.  You'll also hit a wall on this, you can only get so good.  If you can get to something better than 50% up and down, and 50% putts made from 8 feet, you're close to touring pro level.  To get further, you have to improve your full swing game.
This is true, but then you start to expand the definition of "short game" out to 50 or 100 yards. I think you'd be hard-pressed to find someone who could break par on a short par-3 course that didn't break 80 consistently on a full-length course.  That's not only because they have a strong short game, but also because the skills required to have a good wedge game will in fact translate (at least somewhat) all the way up to your driver.

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#17 RichieHunt

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 11:02 AM

Best way to improve is to get plenty of time on the range and on the course.  If I was a tour player I would want to get about 1 round of golf in for every 2 hours of practice.  If I had more time, I would practice more diligently...squeezing everything I had into every shot I hit on the range.  So 1 hour of practice would mean far less balls hit than the average amateur with 1 hour of practice.  That would save my back, wrists, etc.

Problem is that the average person cannot play that much golf nor can they split that much time between golf and practice.  So you may want to make it 1 round of golf for every 4 hours of practice.  Playing is important and what many do not realize that if you are working on making some tweaks or outright changes to your swing, you need to get out on the course and actually play in order to more quickly make those changes.






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#18 ferrispgm

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 11:22 AM

I typically use the range for drills and working on my swing or certain shots.  Then I try and play a few rounds on the course and focus hard on taking what i'm working on from the range and apply it to the course.  Sometimes I may have to exaggerate it a little bit because it's easy to revert back to what's comfortable when you are on the actual golf course. Once I have success doing that for a couple rounds I go play normal and just focus on the shots at hand and how I want the ball to fly toward the target.
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#19 Middler

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 11:27 AM

View PostMountainKing, on 11 January 2018 - 10:32 AM, said:

I only have so much time a week for golf.  If I had 2 hours I'd rather play 9 than sit on the range.  I've cut back significantly on the amount of time I spend on the range and I think overall I've gotten much better.  I used to be a giant basket of balls guy but now I stick to something in the 30-50 ball range when I do go. I really make each one count, and like others said have a goal for those shots and really focus on the clubs that impact scoring.
To each his own, but I've seen people with two large buckets of balls at my local range, I can't imagine. I get one small bucket and that's more than enough. I do pause between range shots and even walk away after every 5-10 shots trying to be mindful of what I am doing. Sometimes that helps, sometimes it doesn't, and often I don't know what I am doing wrong when things aren't going well. Maybe some players are good at self diagnosis, some mistakenly think they are, I know I've never been good at self diagnosis beyond the obvious. That's again why I must see a pro periodically to stay on track, wish I'd learned that lesson long ago.
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#20 RobertBaron

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 04:13 PM

Im a big time range rat and a ranger Rick to boot. I think Id definitely improve my scoring by playing a course much more frequently.

Playing more vs range work for me at least would help me with a number of issues like on course pressure/jitters, dealing with uneven lies and rough, strategizing better and working on creativity.

Visiting my parents over the holidays I had the chance to play 2 days in a row. I really felt much more comfortable on the course the 2nd day as I got my on course jitters and tightness somewhat alleviated by playing the day before. (I ended up having a record day... nothing higher than bogey,a first for me and no 3+ putts)


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#21 Parker0065

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 05:58 PM

Improving?

1) Range Work - This is actual "work". For me this is drills, alignment rods, video, working on form and real body movements. I like to think of it as the hood is up on the car with the goal of simply making my golf swing better. Key is I don't care where the ball goes,,,,,,until what I'm working on is grooved.

2) Practice on the course - Best done in early mornings and late afternoons when the course is empty. Not a scoring round, but hitting different shots from various lie angles. Hitting various chips, pitches, and bunker shots from all around the green. Hit a bad drive or approach shot, drop another and hit it better.

3) Pre round warm-up - Just setting tempo and contact for the day with 20-30 balls. Target is key, where is the ball going?

4) Fun or Friendly round - Played for fun, a Coke, or $ but all rules applied. In other words, a round you would post. Play with the best players you can find and play for something. This is your scrimmage for competitive rounds.

5) Competitive Rounds - I've never known a solid golfer that lacked real competitive experience. Whether it's just club events, city, county, or state events. The more competition you are involved in, the more you will learn what you need to improve on.

Do those 5 things in earnest and you can't help but improve.

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