Two Kinds of Practice

1.) Practice Like you Play

Regardless of what you think, the range is not always used to hit shot after shot with the same club.  More often than not, Tour Pros and top amateurs use their pre-round warmup to do exactly what is outlined below.  They simulate the round ahead and use the range to sharpen their focus.

The Range at The Links is designed to allow you to simulate playing 9-holes with a small bucket.  So the next time you come to the range just looking to get your golf-fix.

Try this:
First, get a small bucket of balls (35+/-) and hit a couple of warmup shoots.  Next, figure out which yardage plate you are near on the range.  Then review the yardage matrix and range layout forms you have pre-printed or looked up on your mobile device. Now, visualize the course you want to play, say Ironwood, and step up to the first tee.  Take aim at one of the two fairways and make your swing.  Lets say you hit it a little right, but not bad, estimate your average approach shot distance based on your history of playing Ironwood.  Refer to the yardage matrix, based upon the nearest plate then find the yardage that fits your approach shot.  From there, make your next swing, again estimate your distance from the pin and whether you’ve hit the green or have a pitch/chip shot.  Now you may have to make some notes, because what you do next is make notations for the putting green.  In other words, once you’re done with the bucket you head over to the putting green, if time allows, and finish each hole.  I realize this will take some imagination, but its a great way to get your golf fix and actually work on your game at the same time.  Practice like a pro…Practice like you play!

While designing the range, the focus was to develop a facility that allowed golfers to hit from one spot to multiple targets and be able to use nearly every club in their bag.  It had to have simulated fairways, realistic targets with bunkers, bentgrass greens, plus accurate yardages.  In short, the range needed more than just a flat open space.  In order to get the most out of your next visit to The Links Driving Range, print off the range layout and yardage matrix.  Tuck them away in your bag, then come find your “Home on the Range” at The Links.

2.) Making a Swing Change

Though very few golfers ever really make a swing change, this is precisely the practice rut they fall prey to.  We’ve all seen the guy that heads to the range with a large bucket of balls and after 15 swings with an 8-iron, and 10 swings with a 5-iron/hybrid, they throw caution to the wind and hit the remaining 30 balls with a Driver.  When asked what they are practicing, they say their slice, and with that the clubs are thrown in the trunk of the BMW and they are gone.  Well too are their hopes of ever improving. Not once did they check their alignment or divot pattern, nor eithers relationship to the intended target.  Neither have they sought professional help, rather they watched a recent segment on the Golf Channel on fixing their slice.  The problem is they don’t know what exactly is causing their slice.  It’s not the same for everyone.

So rather than try and change your perception of practice, how about you just practice with a purpose.  First, if you are serious about improving and having more Fun with golf, might I suggest a lesson.  It is of the highest order that you understand what it is that is causing your slice.  Only then can you really work on “Making a Swing Change”.  After a visit with a golf professional improve your game by following a practice routine to get the most of your valuable time.

Develop your own Routine – Now by routine, I mean a pre-shot routine.  Very little is gained through mindlessly practice.  Come to each shot with a purpose.  To help make each shot count, try the following in practice as in play. 

Gauge your conditions & lie
Conditions & Lie generally dictate the shot
Pick your target (primary & secondary)
 This will allow you to play around trouble 
Visualize your shot (shape & trajectory)
If you can’t see it don’t try and hit it
Check your alignment
 Always use at least one alignment stick
Check posture and grip
Posture and grip account for 70% of each swing, get them wrong and you are swimming up stream
One swing thought
Don’t over load your brain
This is the point of commitment, trust or step back
By now you have a clear vision of what is going to happen
   Believe it – Do it!