Take Your 'A' Game from the Range to the Tee

Tuesday January 13th, 2009

The Problem: You stripe ball after ball on the practice range during your pre-round warm-up, only to get to the first tee and hit a poor drive. Problems snowball from there, and you never recapture the loose, confident swing you had on the range.

The Fix: On the range, you're focused on the process and the swing keys you're working on, not the end result. Incorporate that attitude into your pre-shot routine on the course, so it won't feel so different from your warm-up at the range. You'll settle down earlier in your round and shoot a lower score.

Focus on a target

Those target flags on the driving range provide an easy way to check your aim and alignment. On the course, you have to work a little harder. Take five seconds to walk into your setup from behind the ball and pick out something in the distance—a large tree, a bunker behind the green—with which to align yourself. That's exactly what you do on the driving range. Now get into your address position and don't worry as much about where the ball goes—just focus on the target you picked.

Make "air swings"

A major first-tee killer is bad tempo. Keep your tempo under control by making one or two "air swings" with your driver before address, swinging the club back and through a few feet above the ball. This also helps flatten out your swing plane, which will lead to solid contact. Now take your golf posture and make the same smooth, circular motion. You'll hit the ball pure and never look back.

Push your chin up

Let's say you've been working on your posture during practice. It's an easy thing to overlook on the course. So when you feel your shoulders start to slouch, take your index finger and push your chin back up. This will serve as a reminder that the process of getting ready is as important as the shot itself.

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