From the Range to the Course...or not???

Hello Golf Friends:

I remember my springs in Wisconsin…. The snow melts; the days get longer; the fresh spring air and I knew it was golf season!   So I’m happy that all of you are now in golf mode! 

If I had a quarter for how many times I’ve heard (or something similar):

  • Paul, I love my practice swing.

  • Paul, Why can’t I apply my practice swing to my real swing?

  • Paul, I hit the ball so great on the range, but then it doesn’t transfer to the course.

  • Paul,  you get me on track in our lessons, but then it goes away on the course

And so on….

The first thing we have to realize is that range golf and course golf are not anywhere near the same animal!  On the range there is no penalty for a bad shot.  We just tee up another and give it a whirl.   On the range we get to practice the same shot over and over and over…. Until we get it right!  Then we take another club and do it all over again.  If we don’t like where we’re at we may even go get another bucket or snipe someone’s left over range balls…. Free nuggets!


The definition of insanity is practicing the wrong thing over and over!

There are two types of practice: Block and Variable.  Block practice is what I described above.  Beat ball after ball.  This is a great method for practicing or ingraining a new skill.  BUT! What is it you’re actually working on?  If it is something from a lesson you took; great.  Keep working at it!  But if you’re just out there wailing away you are going nowhere! Block practice must be purposeful practice!  Drill, routine, and a path to seek improvement.  Oh… and hitting a bucket full of drivers?  Nope! Ain’t gonna help you!

  • And, to be honest, I love hitting golf balls.  I’m a block practicer on the range for sure.  However… I’m a varied practicer on the golf course! (I’ll get to that in a bit).

  • And in block practice:  PLEASE stick to your process.  Focus on what you want to do to hit a good shot.  Don’t place any emphasis on the bad shot.  If you miss one… don’t overanalyze why it was bad.  Just focus the things you want to do to hit a good shot. 

Varied practice is using multiple clubs at multiple targets.  Every few balls you are switching clubs and switching targets.  Therefore you are changing your alignment, changing your club selection, and challenging your mind to see your practice session differently.  In order to see improvement on the course, this type of range session is imperative!

Did you know you can PLAY golf on the range? 

  • Try this:  Hit a tee shot on the range.  Then hit an approach shot.  (both of these shots should be to a specific target) Then go over to the practice green and hit a pitch or chip.  Then hit a putt.  Then Repeat. 

  • Or:  Play a few holes on the range.  Pick your favorite course or your home course.  Take 16 balls.  Play holes 1-4… or expand and play holes 1-9.   Pick the next shot according to how you hit the previous shot.   At the end of the “range round” you will have hit almost every club in your bag!

  • With my students I’ll pick 12 balls.  I’ll call out a target… tee shot, approach shot, and then chip or pitch.  I give them a point for each target they hit.  It ingrains some pressure and competition.  Bad shot= no point!

  • In this varied practice format you are simulating real golf.  You are changing your brain patterns and going through your routine. 

When I’m prepping for an event most of my practice is varied practice;  getting course ready! 

Now… my most important practice tip:



Simply put, varied practice on the course doesn’t involve score.  YOU WILL NOT KEEP SCORE!  You’re goal is to hit shots at targets.  When I do this for 9 holes (3x/wk or more) I probably hit 100 shots from driver to putter for each 9 holes.  I hit from different approach distances; multiple clubs off the tee; various shots around the green; various length putts.  If I don’t like it; I drop