“How do I take my range game to the course?”.

If only I had a rand every time a golfer asked me that question…

As with all fundamental misconceptions it starts with a rumour. In this case the rumour is that by working on your swing on the driving range you are fundamentally going to change your success ratio on the course. This rumour is false.

The second fundamental misconception that golfers hold is that by repeatedly making the somewhat similar swing with the same club you are going to build up muscle memory and this will pull you through in the pressure situation on the course. This is also very wrong.

Thirdly and probably most important of all is the fallacy that by standing and repeatedly making strokes, chipping and splashing out of the same bunker you are going to improve your short game.

Wrong, wrong and wrong again.
The solution is as simple as turning the question in line one around so that it makes your practise more relevant to reality. Thus the question should read: “How do I bring the course to my range practise?”

In this month’s Swing Thoughts we introduce you to a few new practise rationales that will not only stimulate you to want to practise more but will also get you to enjoy your practise.
The machine-gun drill

Pull, hit, look, pull, hit, look, pull, hit, look; you get the idea. If this is how you practise (we call it the machine gun drill ‘cos it is automatic and not all that accurate) then you are probably better off moving to Japan or China.

There you can get a driving range handicap as this is all you will ever be, a range golfer. Now, one can hear the choruses go up of “ja, but my coach and I are working on drills” etc but that is repetition practise.

That is not what we refer to when we speak of preparation practise or the practise you do when you are preparing for a competition or tournament.

At the outset it is important to state that as a golfer you need both. That is, repetition practise with your coach and preparation practise for Saturday’s club competition.

However one can see many amateurs doing the first form of practise but very few doing the latter. Which begs the question, if you are going to be presented with shots with a different club almost every single time.

Narrower targets than a range can give you and putts of differing lengths, why do we stubbornly refuse to incorporate these elements into our practise?

As an example imagine your first nine tee-shots on your home course. What is preventing you from practising these shots in sequence with a proper pre-shot routine on the driving-range?

Yes it will probably take you longer to hit less balls but is that not more realistic in relation to what your game is going to be like on Saturday when you are waiting behind THAT slow four-ball again? In this regard it is better to hit 50 balls with a hundred percent focus than 200 balls with 50% focus.

Putting insanity
If making your first putt of the day is important to you why are we so slack at ensuring we make the first one? And this does not refer to your first putt on the golf course, no, it refers to your first putt of the morning, the first one on the practise green.

Far too often we drop three balls of varying lengths and proceed to try and make these often difficult putts. What is wrong with manipulating our sub-conscious slightly by hearing the first three balls go in from three or four feet?

Remember your sub-conscious is not there to judge, merely to perceive the fact that you made your first three putts of the day.

Imagine what kind of golfer you could be if you never missed you first three most important putts of the day.

Keep your scorecard handy
“I’ll see what it is like when I get there”. What a poor excuse in this day and age of technology. Playing a course for the first time should not stop you from preparing for the course (The collective confused frowning from the Swing Thoughts readers is almost audible).

Think about it this way. If you get your hands on the score-card or even better the stroke-saver of the course, there are 12 shots that should never surprise you. These are the tee-shots on each of the par-3’s. For those as bad at maths as me: that is three tee-boxes per par-3, normally four par-3’s per round.

So ideally when you get to the 6th hole and the middle tee’s are at 160m you should have no problem in drilling your shot, as you should have been practising that shot all week on the range.

So next time you are concerned about how you are going to take your “great” range form to the course, remember, you are probably only prepared for range play, and we all know how different the golf course can be to the driving range.

Theo Bezuidenhout
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