The Best Way to Practice Golf at the Driving Range – 4 Key Tips

If you’ve been around the sport of golf for any amount of time, you know that practice is an essential part of your success on the course. 

And for golfers, a large part of their practice routine involves the driving range. 

Here’s the problem. 

Most golfers know they need to be spending time on the driving range, but many of them have no idea what the best way to practice on the driving range really is. 

Fortunately, the team at Tee Precision did some digging, and this is what we came up with:

In order to maximize your results from a driving range practice session, you need to do four key things:

1. Set goals – without something to strive for, it is unlikely that your golf game will improve.

2. Create a plan – once you decide on your goals for your range session, it’s important to create a plan to help keep you focused.

3. Track progress – during each driving range session, you should be tracking your progress in some way. This will help you see what’s working and what isn’t so you can make the appropriate changes to your driving range practice plan.

4. Take it from the range to the course – so many people hit it great on the range, but when they take their game to the course, they crumble under pressure. It’s important to have an effective strategy in place that will allow you to take your golf game from the driving range to the golf course.

Let’s take a look at each of these points in a little more detail so you can be sure you cover all the bases in your driving range practice plan!

Table of Contents

The Best Way to Practice At The Driving Range

1. Set Goals

It’s impossible to discuss goals without first mentioning the S.M.A.R.T goal framework. This framework outlines the essential components required for any goal to be successfully achieved. 

Chances are, you’ve probably heard of it. 

But just in case you haven’t, here’s what it stands for:

S.M.A.R.T goal framework

But, how can you apply the S.M.A.R.T goal framework to your golf game?

Well, let’s take a look at a specific example to help you understand. 

Jared is a mid-handicap golfer who regularly averages a score between 85-90 every round. He knows this isn’t too bad, but like all golfers, he wants to improve.

So, at the beginning of the golf season, he decides to set a goal:

“I want to break 80 in 18 holes at my home course before it closes for the season on October 25th. I will accomplish this by committing to three, 1-hour range sessions each week and spending 30 minutes on the putting green after each round.”

Now, let’s take a look at Jared’s goal to see if it aligns with the S.M.A.R.T framework.

Is it specific?

Yes, Jared defines the exact score he hopes to shoot and the time frame for doing so. He also outlines what he will do for practice to improve his game.

Is it measurable?

Yes, he is simply tracking his score in a round of golf, something that is very easy to measure. 

What’s more difficult, however, is making sure he establishes a level of consistency for his scorekeeping. This means playing the ball as it lies on every shot and not using the occasional “foot wedge” from the trees.

Is it attainable?

Yes, the fact that Jared currently averages between 85-90 in a round means that this goal is very attainable. If he averaged 100+ strokes per round, then it might be a different story. 

Also, as mentioned above, he set this goal at the beginning of the season with the deadline being the final day. 

This provides him with enough time to put in the necessary practice to achieve his goal. Had he said that he hopes to break 80 within the week, his goal would not be very attainable.

Is it relevant?

Relevant is a measure of how worthwhile the goal is to you. Jared loves the game of golf and regularly plays in tournaments at his club. Therefore, he considers this goal a very worthwhile pursuit. Yes, it is relevant.

Is it time-bound?

Yes, Jared specifies the exact date in which he hopes to have achieved his goal (October 25th).

All in all, this is a pretty good goal. It’s specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. 

Keep in mind this is just one example. Whatever your goal is, you can adapt it to the S.M.A.R.T framework. 

For example, instead of trying to break 80, you might be trying to pick up an extra 10 yards on your drives.

2. Create a Plan

Now that you have a S.M.A.R.T goal, you need to create a plan for your driving range practice session that helps you achieve it. 

Here are a couple of important things you need to consider when deciding on the best way to practice golf at the range:

How Much Time Can You Set Aside for Practice?

While sometimes it might seem like golf is the center of your universe, there are often many other important things that occupy your time during the week. 

Before starting a golf practice program, take an inventory of all the essential things you need to do during the week. This might include:

  • Work-related responsibilities.
  • Spending time with family.
  • Taking your kids to baseball practice, football practice, or any other activities they may be involved in.

Once you’ve done this, you’ll be left with a pretty good idea of the free time in your schedule you can use to practice your golf game.

For example, if you realize you have an hour of free time on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday evenings, these time slots could be used for a practice session on the range. 

What Should You Work On?

After you evaluate when you’ll be able to practice, you need to decide on the best way to fill these time slots to maximize your results. 

To do so, clarify the exact skills you need to develop to reach the goal you set earlier. This will be different for everybody.

For example, if you’re trying to pick up 10 yards off the tee, your time would be best spent doing drills that increase your clubhead speed.

man hitting golf driver off of tee box

If your goal is to hit more greens, you might want to work on ball striking with your irons. 

Whatever your goal may be, you’ll need to spend time on the appropriate drills that help you achieve it.

When creating a driving range practice plan, it’s also important to recognize when you’re trying to do too much. For more on the risks of overtraining in golf, check out this article:

How Often Should You Practice golf? (And are you Doing Too Much?).

3. Track Your Progress

It’s also important to implement a way to track the progress of your practice plan. This will help you adjust and eliminate things that aren’t working.

golf work in progress picture

For example, let’s say you’re trying to pick up some extra distance.

After a week of doing a certain drill on the range, you haven’t noticed any real improvements. This could be a tell-tale sign that you need to try something new.

As they say…

“The definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over again expecting different results.” 

There are a number of ways that you can track your progress on the driving range:

Video Analysis

Have you ever thought your swing looked a certain way, only to see a video and realize that your expectation wasn’t even close to reality? 

Video is a luxury that wasn’t available to golfers several decades ago. 

Now, it can be an invaluable tool used to improve the golf swing.

In order to fully take advantage of using video to analyze your swing, here are a few recommended practices:

Get a friend or tripod to hold your phone or camera. This is just much more efficient than spending precious time trying to balance your camera precariously on your golf bag, cart, or other nearby inanimate objects.

Film from multiple angles (Face on, down the line, etc…). Many people only think to film their swing from down the line (behind). 

However, a lot can be learned from a video taken from a face-on perspective. For example, this view will give you a much better idea of how your setup looks and where your weight is centered before the swing. 

Use slow motion. Smartphone camera technology has come a long way in recent years. Many new android or apple devices will allow you to shoot video in 240 fps! This can be extremely beneficial for analyzing your golf swing on the range. 

After a few weeks of using video, you’ll have trained yourself in what to look for in your swing and you’ll be able to tell if you’re making improvements.

Get Feedback From Others

If filming your swing isn’t an option, good ol’ fashion person to person feedback is your next best bet. Have someone watch your swing and tell you what they think. 

Just make sure that the person you ask isn’t just telling you what you want to hear and that they have a general knowledge of the golf swing.

Testing/Statistics

Keeping statistics or conducting regular testing is another fantastic way to track progress on the driving range.

For example, on the first day of each week, you might decide to hit 10 golf balls to a specific target with each club you’re trying to improve.

Sometimes you’ll need to use your imagination. For example, let’s say you’re trying to improve accuracy with your 150-yard club. This could be a 9 iron, 7 iron, whatever. 

You could pretend there’s a 20-foot circle surrounding the 150-yard marker on the range. If you think your shot landed within the circle, it’s a hit. If it didn’t, that’s a miss.

Perhaps the first week you only hit your target with 3 out of 10 shots. Next week, try to get 4, and the week after 5, and so on. 

Pretty soon these gradual improvements will add up and make a significant difference in your score.

Working With an Instructor

Lastly, working with a certified golf instructor is another way to track your progress on the range. Their trained eyes will pick up any flaws in your golf swing then they’ll help you make the necessary adjustments. 

Man getting golf lessons at driving range

The nice thing about taking this route is it takes the guesswork out of making changes to your swing.

As golfers, we tend to over-analyze our swing faults.

An instructor can help simplify things and transition your focus to the things that matter the most.

4. Take It from the Range to the Course

So, by this point, you have set a goal, created a plan, and have begun tracking your progress.

Now it’s time to take it from the range to the course.

Unfortunately, this is something that many golfers struggle with. 

According to Gary Nicol and Karl Morris, two of the top coaches on the European tour, part of the problem lies in how most amateurs approach each shot. 

They claim that each golf shot has three main components – before, during, and after. 

  1. Before the Shot – this includes your pre-shot routine and everything you do when you’re standing behind the golf ball.
  2. During the Shot – from the moment you set up to the golf ball to the second the ball leaves the clubface.
  3. After the Shot – begins after the ball has left the clubface and ends when you begin preparing for your next shot. 

They say that the problem with practicing on the range is that golfers tend to only focus on the middle element – what they’re doing during the shot. 

We’ve all been guilty of launching golf balls rapid fire on the range without so much as looking up in between shots.

Hit a bad one? No problem – you have a stack of dozens more to hit straight away.

But when it comes to actually playing on the course, we have no idea how to prepare for the “before” stage of each shot, or how to react after we hit the ball. 

Here are some things you can do on the range to help combat these problems so you can transfer what you’ve learned on the range to the course.

Develop a Pre-shot Routine

Golf is all about consistency. A pre-shot routine helps program your mind to recognize that it’s time to hit the golf shot.

If you walk through the same pre-shot routine on the range as you do on the course, you’re more likely to execute the shot you’re trying to hit. 

This routine will be different for everyone, however, there are a few common elements. 

First, ask yourself what kind of shot you need to hit. Does it call for a draw? A fade? Low? High?

Once you know the shot you’re going to play, do a few practice swings. You don’t need to put a lot of energy into these practice swings, you’re simply getting an idea for what the shot will feel like.

Then, step back and take a final look at your target and visualize the shot one last time. You are now ready to hit the shot.

Of course, when you’re working on a specific drill, you won’t be walking through your pre-shot routine. 

However, it’s a good idea to incorporate 20-30 swings at the end of each practice session where you visualize the shot and walk through your entire routine.

Simulate Situations You’re Likely to Encounter on the Course

It’s also helpful to simulate some of the shots you often face on the course while practicing on the range.

For example, if you normally hit a driver off the first tee and then a 7 iron into the green, hit those clubs in that order on the range.

Then, hit the club you would select off the second tee, the second fairway, and so on.

While doing this, make sure to walk through your pre-shot routine before each shot.

This creates an environment as similar as possible to what you’ll experience out on the course. 

This way, when it comes time to actually execute this shot on the course, you’ve already done it several times in your mind.

Randomize Your Club Selection

Very rarely will you hit the same club twice in a row on the course. However, when practicing, some people focus exclusively on one club. 

This makes it difficult to react to the diverse situations you might find yourself in on the course.

To prepare for this, consider spending some time hitting shots with different clubs in a randomized order. 

Start with your 9 iron, then 3 iron, then a driver, and so on. This will help keep you on your toes and get you prepared for any shot you might face on the course. 

Create a Plan for What to Do After a Bad Shot

Tiger Woods is famous for what is sometimes referred to as the 10-yard rule. This meant that after a bad shot, he had 10-yards to think about what went wrong. 

But the second his toe passed over the imaginary 10-yard line, he forced the shot completely out of his mind. 

This can be an extremely helpful strategy. 

So many amateurs dwell on bad shots for far too long. There is no possible positive outcome that can come from this, and more often than not, it will negatively affect your next shot.

The fact is, you WILL have bad shots. But it’s not the shot itself that ruins your round, it’s how you react to it. 

The problem with the driving range is that these thoughts don’t even enter your mind. When you hit a bad shot, you can just tee up another in a matter of seconds.

Next time you’re on the range, consider pausing for a minute or two after each bad shot instead of rushing to hit another. 

Focus on objectively analyzing what went wrong without getting emotional about it. 

After you’ve gathered the data, completely eliminate the shot from your mind and move on to the next one. 

This will help train you to be less reactive on the course and prevent mistakes from compounding.

Driving Range Practice FAQ

What are the best clubs to practice at the driving range?

If you are new to the game of golf, you should spend time practicing all of your clubs at the driving range. This includes your driver, woods, irons, and wedges. 

This will help you understand how to use each club effectively so you are ready when you take your game from the range to the golf course.

If you have already been golfing a few times, you should dedicate more of your practice time on the driving range to your weakest clubs.

This will help provide some consistency across all facets of your game, helping you to shoot better scores. 

Can you rent clubs at a driving range?

Yes, most courses will allow you to rent golf clubs for both the driving range and the golf course.

However, before you can rent golf clubs, you’ll probably be asked to sign a waiver form that holds you liable for any damages you may have caused to the clubs while using them.

If you intend to stick with the game of golf, it’s best you buy your own set of clubs. This way, you’ll be able to practice with them on the range and get used to them before you hit the course. 

But if you’re simply going to the driving range as a fun activity, rentals are your best choice.

How far is a golf driving range?

The length of a golf driving range tends to vary between golf courses. For example, some older driving ranges are just 250 yards long, while modern driving ranges are often expected to be a minimum of 300 yards long, and preferably closer to 350 yards.

The increase in driving range length over the years can be attributed to advancements in club making technology that help players to hit the golf ball further.

Interestingly, some golf courses also have double-sided driving ranges that allow people to hit from both ends. In this case, distance regulations are a little stiffer in order to protect the safety of the users.

Double-sided driving ranges should be at least 400 yards long.

What club should you start with on the driving range?

In general, it’s a good practice to start by hitting half-swing wedges at the driving range. Once you feel confident hitting these shots, you may progress to full swing wedges, and slowly work your way towards the longer clubs in your bag.

It’s a good idea to start with the shorter clubs in your golf bag because you are less likely to overswing with them and injure yourself.

Far too many amateur golfers start by hitting their driver on the range. It’s better to be smart and save the driver until you are completely warmed up. 

How long does it take to hit 100 range balls?

It will take the average golfer anywhere between 30 and 60 minutes to hit 100 golf balls at the driving range.

The time it will take you depends on how much time you spend preparing for each shot and whether or not you take breaks to socialize or relax. 

Is it better to practice on the driving range or the course?

Practice on both the golf course and driving range are essential for those hoping to improve their golf game. The driving range helps develop the muscle memory required to build a consistent golf swing, and the golf course helps you work on mental aspects of the game like course management and playing shots from varying lies. 

Here’s a good way to look at it –

The driving range prepares the body and the golf course trains the mind.

How many balls should you hit at the driving range?

The number of balls you should hit on the driving range depends on the type of player you are. For example, if it’s your first visit to the driving range, you should not hit more than one large bucket of golf balls. This is equivalent to about 80-150 golf balls.

Any more than that and you’ll begin to develop blisters or sores on your hands.

If you’re an advanced player, you’ve likely developed calluses that protect your hands and allow you to hit a lot more golf balls while practicing. 

Are driving range golf balls different?

From a performance perspective, assuming they are produced by a similar-quality manufacturer, there is no difference between driving range golf balls and regular golf balls. 

That said, they might look different. Many golf courses order range balls that are a certain color or have a certain design so that they can tell when people are taking them to use on the course or selling them illegally.

How much does the driving range cost?

Most driving ranges will give you the option to choose between a small, medium, or large bucket of golf balls. Depending on the bucket you select, the cost to hit golf balls at the driving range is usually between 5 and 15 dollars. 

How many calories do you burn hitting golf balls at the driving range?

The following chart shows the average number of calories you will burn in one hour of hitting golf balls at the driving range based on body weight:

Bodyweight (lbs.)Calories Burned (60 Minutes)
120163
140191
160218
180245
200272
220299
240327
260354
280381
300408

Hitting golf balls on the range for one hour equates to roughly the same amount of calories burned as walking for one hour at a leisurely pace. 

Is the driving range good exercise?

It depends on what you are going for. If you’re just looking to get outside for some moderate activity, then yes, it is great exercise. If you’re looking to build up muscle mass or endurance, you’re better off engaging in more intensive forms of exercise. 

Are driving range distances accurate?

Depending on the driving range you’re at, you might notice some discrepancies in the distances to the markers. This is usually due to the position of the hitting area.

For example, every once in a while, the driving range staff will need to block off a certain area of the tee box to repair divots. 

This means golfers will be unable to hit from the center of the tee box, which is usually where the distances to driving range markers are measured from. 

So, if the hitting area is moved back on the tee box, a shot that lands next to the 150 marker on the range might have actually traveled 155 yards or more. 

Also, the angle from which you’re hitting will make a difference as well.

If you choose a spot near the corner of the tee box, you need to hit the ball farther to get it to a certain marker in the center of the range compared to if you set up in the middle of the tee box. 

But there are ways to figure out how accurate driving range distances are. For example, a laser rangefinder will tell you the exact yardage to any object you direct it towards.

Do driving range golf balls travel as far?

Most new driving range golf balls will travel just as far as any other golf ball you buy. However, driving range balls can take a beating. If they’re more than a year or two old, you’ll definitely notice a decline in distance compared to brand new golf balls. 

The Takeaway…

In order to maximize your productivity when practicing at the driving range, you’ll need to focus on four main things:

  1. Setting Goals 
  2. Creating a Plan
  3. Tracking Your Progress
  4. Taking Your Game from The Range to the Golf Course

Take these points into consideration and you’ll be able to get more out of your driving range practice sessions!

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