Home Month and Year September 2023 “I’m really good on the range! Why can’t I take it to...

“I’m really good on the range! Why can’t I take it to the course?”

Scott Orban

I heard this again today, and I hear it all the time. Funny, when I watch golfers on the range, I do not share their sentiment. Our perspectives and expectations do not seem to match at all. There is definitely a place on the driving range for developing repetition and confidence. However, if you are really looking to take it to the golf course, then you may have to expand your level of expectations on the driving range.

When I perform a swing clinic, I start by hitting shots out on the range with no pre-defined target. I feel free and it is easy to hit good shots in the air and they look great. Then I define to the group the distance and the direction to a target I want to achieve. Instantly, the crowd’s expectation goes up, my expectations increase and my anxiety matches this. My shots still fly high and look good, but needless to say, they do not all fall right on target.

My coaching philosophy includes separating our range and other practice into two separate development stages: 1) swing building 2) take it to the course – scrimmage. A requirement of both of these is to define a target. On the course, you always have a pre-defined target.


Swing Building

You are going to build your swing on the range from a perfect lie, a level lie and with a pre-defined target. Use range mats or alignment tools (sticks) to define the target. From behind your ball, see where the stick’s physically aligned. Use the tools to help you square your clubface and square your bodylines to the target line consistently. Hit five balls with each club and keep track of your accuracy. (13 golf clubs x 5 shots each = 65 balls.) Count how many good shots you have. Now what was your percentage of good shots? To be accountable, you need to measure performance.


Bring the Course to the RangeScrimmage

During a round of golf, you would not have the same lie, the same target, the same distance, the same visuals and hazards, or hit the same club repeatedly. So try to simulate this on the range as best you can. Hit off grass, and although the lies will be flat and perfect, we will leave that as your advantage. For each shot use a different club and select a different target (distance and direction). Do not use alignment aids. When I practice this scrimmage, I visualize playing McKenzie Meadows, selecting the clubs I would typically use in a round of golf. When possible, I even create different lies, and also demand different shot shapes to make it interesting.

To be accountable, you need to keep score. So what is a good score? Take your objective score and subtract 36 for putts and 9 shots for chips. In this example if your objective score is 89, subtract 45 (putts and chips), which will leave you with 44 balls to test your skills. Of the 44 shots, what percentage achieved an acceptable distance and direction? This will give you a base percentage and one you can work toward improving.

You may be surprised that the same golfer from the course shows up at the range when you test yourself. Make yourself accountable and be honest on the range for every shot for range practice. You will improve your focus and you will take it to the course… guaranteed.