DRIVING RANGE SPECIAL
GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR SESSION Eight things you can do at your range to help improve your practice Going down the range in the winter months can, at times, seem about as appealing as a trip to a dentist who has shaking hands and a worryingly sadistic attitude towards patients. As a result, all too often, many of us get 100 balls from the machine and fire through them with absolutely no plan of attack. This slapdash method could be borne of a desire to get out of the cold as quickly as possible or from wanting to get home in time to watch the match. Here, The Bedford’s James Ridyard shows eight ways to make your time more useful.
A LT E R N AT I V E APPROACH Once you’ve mastered one distance, move the target so you have to change either the club you are using or the length of your backswing.
CHIP YOUR WAY TO SUCCESS
A great way of either warming up – or even warming down – at the end of a session is to pick out your favourite wedge(s) and chip into a net. If there isn’t a net available as shown below, you can put your golf umbrella up and chip into that instead. It’s just as good. This will instantly give you that bit of feel that you certainly won’t get by thinning 6-irons 140 yards down the range.
Once you’ve mastered a certain distance, change the distance the target is away from you. Then alternate between the two and concentrate on creating the same swing but by using different lofted wedges you will be able to reach targets at different lengths. It should make you more comfortable with all of your wedges, which should help you considerably out on the course.
IN ASSOCIATION WITH
USE YOUR SMART PHONE TO GOOD EFFECT
You may think you’re doing everything right in your swing, but if the ball is disappearing to all parts of the range, there’s probably something wrong. Chances are, if you’re mad about your golf you might have an inkling about
what’s going wrong but the only way to confirm it is to get a mate to video you hitting balls on a mobile phone. Still not fixed? Send the video to your local pro who should be able to get you back on the straight and narrow.
MAKE IT HARD TO HIT ‘FAIRWAYS’ 4
It’s all too easy to stand there and pummel drives straight down a range which has no bunkers, water hazards or trees. So, visualise an area on the range that represents a fairway – something around 35 yards wide. Fire five drives down the middle of this zone, then try to hit the lefthand side of it. Finally, try to find the right-hand side too. When you’re on the course, finding a wide fairway will seem easy. Don’t just hit driver after driver aimlessly.
VIDEO KILLED T H E F A U LT Getting your swing on a phone is a great way to highlight your faults and gives you a valuable picture in your own mind of what is going wrong.
‘PLAY’ YOUR HOME COURSE Smashing the same club time after time limits the amount of benefit you get from your session – it’s too easy to get in the same rhythm which you never get on the course. Instead, imagine yourself playing six holes from your home course, but on the range. Hit driver, follow it up with a 7-iron, play a little chip or pitch, and move on to the next hole. It will focus your mind and stop you from getting into a rut. Stop yourself getting in a rut on the range.
CONE YOUR GAME
Here is a great way to control a fade or a draw. If you hit a draw, set up a piece of rope from just in front of your ball to a tee peg 1-20 yards down the line. Do the same thing but on a 20˚ angle to the right. That space between the two is called the cone. The ball should leave the clubface within the confines of the cone and curve back towards the first line, but not cross it – hit 10 successfully before moving on to another drill. For a fade, all that changes is the second line goes left, not right.
Get your ball starting off within the cone.
TODAY’S G OLFE R | DOW N ON TH E R A NGE 19
Thanks to Pytchley Golf Club near Kettering for the use of their superb facility, which was open despite the appalling weather.
DRIVING RANGE SPECIAL
DITCH THE DRIVER AND HIT YOUR 3-WOOD
PRACTISE WHAT YOU NEED TO, NOT WHAT YOU WANT TO
If you’re struggling to control your driver, maybe it’s time to rebuild confidence with the next longest club in the bag – the 3-wood. It’s much better to give up 15 yards in distance in order to be straight down the middle – and your fairway wood should help you achieve this. So practise hitting it at the range. Hit 10 balls with your 3-wood and 10 with your driver – there won’t be as much difference as you might think.
Let’s face it – it’s more fun to smash drivers down the range, especially if you’re hitting it well. The sound is fantastic and the sight of a golf ball hurtling towards the back of the range through the floodlit night air is a heartwarming sight. But, while this may look good and be exciting, you know that when you’ve crunched your driver in the weekend medal you often fail to follow it up with anything like a decent iron game. It seems obvious that you’d therefore spend a lot of time on making that (weaker) part of your game better. But not everyone does. And while you need to practise all areas of the game, it’s vital you dedicate more time to the areas you need to really work on, not just the ones which make you feel good as you show off to other range-goers because you’ve hit it well. Shooting your lowest-ever round will feel much better than that – guaranteed.
CONSIDER YO U R 3 - WO O D A well-hit 3-wood is better than a badly-hit driver. It’ll be more accurate and will give up fewer yards than you think – indeed, there may not be any difference.
BEWARE THE MAT
Playing off range mats serves a purpose, but it shouldn’t be a longterm practice policy. Mats, for the most part, are considerably easier to hit off than wet, sodden turf that we all have to endure at this time of the year. If possible, make sure you hit off grass too – after all, it won’t be long before you are hitting from tees with wet grass and soft turf. And then your striking needs to be good.
Don’t avoid working on your weak points.
Mats can hide fats – so practise off turf too.