Did you know that going to the driving range can actually make your golf game worse?
I probably don’t have to convince you about this either. We’ve all had those days when we leave the range wondering what just happened.
There’s nothing more frustrating than wasting your time, energy, and money, only to leave the range feeling defeated.
But after you read these driving range tips, you won’t ever waste time at the range again. Keep reading to learn how to practice like the pros and get the most out of your game.
13 Driving Range Tips For Better Practice Sessions
Playing golf vs. practicing golf are very different activities.
Golf is the only sport where you don’t practice on the field where you compete. Football and soccer players practice on the field. While basketball players shoot, dribble, and run drills on the court.
Think about it, golfers hit on the range and try to carry that to the course. The problem is that driving ranges are monumentally different from the course. On the range you have perfectly flat lies, no hazards, and can get into a groove after you start hitting shots.
But when you’re on the golf course, you rarely have a flat lie in the fairway or a perfect distance to the flagstick. There are also plenty of hazards to avoid, sometimes waiting 5-10 minutes between shots, and tricky lies. This is why so many golfers are great “range players” and struggle to take their skills to the course.
To help bring your practice skills to the course, follow these 13 driving range tips.
1. Set an Intention for Proper Focus
How many times have you said, “I’m going to just hit some balls at the range.” Only to leave the range feeling like you did just that – hit balls – not actually improve your golf swing. If so, don’t worry you’re not alone, I’ve been there myself too many times.
Now, before I put my golf clubs in the car, I set a clear intention for what I want to accomplish. This sets up the session to be much more effective as there is a goal in mind. This will help you make the most of your time and actually get closer to your golf goals.
Here are a few examples of practice routine goals:
- Small bucket – focus on wedges and full pre-shot routine only.
- Medium bucket – play nine imaginary holes on the range with clear targets.
- Large bucket – wedges for 10 minutes, irons for 10 minutes, woods for 10 minutes, and simulate holes with remaining balls.
2. Always Warm Up
Before hitting any golf balls, it’s vital to warm up and prepare your body to make golf swings.
Most of us sit too often at work, have tight muscles, and then expect to swing like Rory or Bryson when we show up to the course. Make sure to warm up at home, in the parking lot, or stretch on the range before hitting golf balls.
Also, don’t forget to take practice swings betwen shots to make your golf balls last longer and feel any changes.
3. Understand Quantity vs. Quality
Experienced golfers know that hitting more golf balls during your practice doesn’t give you extra credit with the Golf Gods.
Don’t fall into the trap that most golfers do thinking more golf balls is the only way to improve. Sometimes you’ll have a better session hitting a small bucket vs. a large one.
As Tiger Woods said in his book, How I Play Golf, “Never judge your practice session on how long you practice or how many balls you hit. Some of the most productive sessions have lasted all of 20 minutes.”
Regardless of what size you hit for your range session, make sure to rest after every few swings. Give your mind time to process any swing changes and analyze what’s going on. Plus, it’ll make each more swing beneficial and simulate playing on the golf course.
4. Work on Your Weaknesses
You should spend 80% of your practice time working on your weakness, not your strengths.
The easiest way to identify weaknesses in your game is to track your statistics. After logging a few rounds in a golf app, it should become clear what you need to improve.
After studying your statistics, set the intention to spend the majority of your time on those areas. Whether it’s full swings with driver, chipping, irons, or putting, stick to the plan.
Golf has a funny way of showing your weakness, usually when you’re in a tournament or about to shoot a personal best. Make sure that there are no glaring weaknesses in your game so you can perform best when it matters most.
5. Pick Targets and Use Alignment Aids
One of the reasons golfers can get worse from the driving range instead of improve is the lack of a target. So many golfers hit ball after ball without focusing on a target or checking their alignment. This is an almost surefire way to develop some bad habits that will translate poorly on the golf course.
While you don’t need to use alignment sticks on every single shot, beginners and intermediate players should use them regularly. Until you get to know your aim and setup at the target line, these alignments sticks can make sure you’re set up square to the target.
Regardless of skill level, you should always have a target to make sure you’re aiming correctly. Whether it’s picking a tree in the distance or creating an imaginary fairway, you need targets. This makes it easier to understand your start line and shot shape.
Here are some of our favorite alignment stick drills.
6. Technical Practice
Technical stuff is needed at time to hone a more consistent golf swing. But a lot of golfers fall into the trap of only doing technical practice with training aids and drills. This is another reason why so many players don’t transfer to the course.
Don’t get me wrong, you need to work on mechanics, especially as a beginner golfer. But as you become an avid golfer with a lower handicap, spend less time on the mechanical side of things.
When you need to make swing changes and work on mechanics, make sure to swing at less than full speed. This will make it easier to feel swing changes and hopefully make them stick.
If you need some drills to groove a more consistent swing, check out the best driving range drills here.
7. Hit More Wedges
Most golfers hit far too many fairway woods and irons at the driving range. Sure, they’re more fun to hit but it won’t usually lead to lower scores on the course.
Instead, spend more time working on your wedge game. Learn to love your sand wedge and pitching wedge specifically as you will hit them most often.
Wedges are so important becuase this is the distance where you can hit it closer and give yourself more birdie looks. Plus, a strong wedge game can help save your round on bad ball striking days. Don’t forget to chip/pitch at the practice green too.
8. Competitive Practice
One of the best driving range tips for beginners I can offer is to make it competitive sometimes. Whether you’re with a golf buddy or practicing solo, you want to add competition to make each session more effective. Otherwise, it’s easy to get lazy hitting golf balls and won’t simulate pressure on the course.
If you’re with a friend, do closest to the pin or driving competitions with a small wager. If you’re working on your golf game alone, he suggests trying activities to raise your heart rate to simulate pressure on the course. This might include doing 10 push-ups, running a lap around the practice area, or needing to hole three 8-foot putts before you can leave.
9. Practice Your Pre-Shot Routine
As a golf writer and avid player, I go to the driving range a lot. One thing I see so rarely is people practicing their preshot routine. But it’s one of the few things that all elite players have in common.
10. Play Golf on the Range
Let’s face it, golf is expensive and those green fees can make a ding in the monthly budget. Not to mention it’s a big time commitment from work and family.
On those days when you can’t get to the course for a full round of golf, hit the driving range instead. But instead of mindlessly hitting balls or working on your swing like other golfers, play 9 or 18 holes. You’ll save a ton of money and can work on your routine plus visualization.
On the driving range, warm up for about ten minutes then play your favorite course in your mind. For example, if the first hole is a long par 5, take the driver out of the bag, pick two targets to make a fairway, and go through your routine. The more realistic you can make it to a round of golf, the better.
Remember, the mind doesn’t know the difference between what is real vs. what is imagined. So if you can simulate a round of golf on the range, you can trick your mind into thinking you’re on the course.
Plus, this is a great way to work on your pre-shot routine, pick targets on every shot, and rest between shots.
11. Speed Train
If you want to increase clubhead speed and hit more bombs off the tee, speed training is a great idea. While we highly recommend using SuperSpeed golf sticks off the course, you can speed train on the range too.
On certain days when you’re well rested, use the SuperSpeed sticks at home or in the parking lot to warm up. Then do your normal warm up on the range working from wedges to driver.
Then, focus on one thing only – distance. Swing as hard as you can for a small bucket of balls to get your muscles used to swinging faster. Don’t worry about accuracy or the result either.
To make this even more effective, use a launch monitor to track your clubhead speed. When doing these sessions, make sure you’re well rested and take plenty of breaks between shots.
12. Random Practice
As I’ve mentioned, practice isn’t like golf on the course. When playing golf, you don’t hit four drivers or 7-irons in a row. Instead, you’re hitting shots with drivers, irons, wedges, and hybrids. This is how you should practice too.
After warming up, try to hit every golf club in the bag and never hit the same shot twice. Pick a target and shot shape for each club. To make random practice even more effective go through your full pre-shot routine too.
13. Hit The Range After the Round
Here’s one part of practice that separates the pros from amateur golfers – when they practice. Professionals always hit the range before teeing off but also head to the range after the round too.
Meanwhile, some amateurs hit the range before the first hole and almost none go to the range afterward. But it’s one of the most beneficial things you can do as your body is warmed up and loose. Plus, after you just finished 18 holes, you know which part of your game needs work.
If you have time afterward, hit a small bucket of balls as a sort of bookend for the day. Don’t use this time to speed train or work with training aids. Instead, work off of feeling your swing and improve the weakest area that happened during the round.
Finally, I always like hitting balls afterward because it guarantees you can end the day on a good shot. There’s nothing worse than finishing a round with a bad 18th hole and the sour taste it leaves driving home.
Post round practice sessions apply to the putting green too. If you struggle on the greens, spend 10-15 minutes putting to end on a good note and fix any issues. Check out our best putting drills for some inspiration.
FAQs About Practice During Range Sessions
Still have more questions about making the most out of each practice session? Make sure to keep scrolling through our frequently asked questions and answers below.
What should a beginner do at the driving range?
If you’re new to golf, you want to work on the fundamentals at the driving range. This includes your grip, ball position, stance, alignment, tempo, and overall swing.
Then focus on wedge play and your typical tee shot (which is probably a driver).
Also, if you’re a beginner make sure you read our article on driving range etiquette.
What is the best club to use at the driving range?
There is no “best club” to use at the range. Instead, you should use your practice time to work on the shot(s) that trouble you the most on the golf course. For some, that might be your iron game, while others its driver.
Although, if you had to practice with one club more than most on the range, it’s your driver. Since it sets you up on 10-14 holes per day, it’s arguably the most important club in the bag (aside from your putter). If you’re confident with your tee shot game, it makes it much easier to score well, even on your off days.
How do I practice irons at the driving range?
When working on your mid-game, the biggest thing to remember is to pick a clear target and shot shape on every swing. This will give your mind a clear objective.
How often should I hit the driving range?
There is no specific amount of days/time that you should spend at the driving range. Remember, more practice doesn’t always mean better results; sometimes it’s about quality over quantity. Ultimately, it depends on your schedule and golf goals.
Do range balls go shorter?
Range balls are not like normal golf balls for several reasons.
First, some balls go significantly shorter as they are “distance control” balls. For example, I used to hit balls at a driving range that was only 270 yards long. They used golf balls that had limited distance to avoid players hitting through the range on to a hole.
Additionally, range balls are usually cheap golf balls that don’t mimic a Pro V1 or something similar. Even if they’re brand new, most municipal golf courses or driving range only establishments don’t use top tier golf balls. Plus, as they wear down, the dimples fade away and limit distance.
Only the nicest, private golf courses tend to use Pro V1 or similar practice balls. But the more often they’ve been hit, the less likely they are to perform like a normal golf ball.
How many balls should I hit at the driving range?
One of the biggest misconceptions about practice in golf is thinking that more equals better. You don’t get any extra points from the Golf Gods for hitting a jumbo bucket vs. a small bucket. In fact, sometimes less is more.
When golfers get a massive bucket, there’s a subtle urge to hit them all, even if you’re off or rushed for time. But if you’re hitting it poorly and not resting between balls, you might actually get worse during your session.
While there are times when you do need to focus on quantity (like when making swing changes) it shouldn’t be every time. Instead, mix it up with different sizes based on how much time you have and what the goal is for each session.
Final Thoughts on Golf Driving Range Tips
Don’t forget, golf practice is very different from playing golf. To make your practice more similar to real golf, use these driving range tips so your game can travel from the range to the course.
Here is a quick recap of the best tips:
- Check your alignment.
- Hit random shots to mix it up.
- Hit more wedges than mid-irons.
- Practice your pre-shot routine and pick targets.
Finally, just remember that quality is better than quantity. A longer practice doesn’t make it a better session. Lastly, always have fun so you’re motivated to keep progressing toward your golf goals.