On the range, you’re dialed in: piercing irons and high, booming drives. On the course, you’re a different player—twice the handicap of that smooth swinger from the practice tee. What gives? It’s simple: Your practice method doesn’t translate to the course. Beating more balls won’t help. You need a training overhaul.
Divide your practice time into three parts: “block” drills (i.e., working on new moves and feels); random shotmaking that simulates on-course scenarios; and some positive thinking to boost your mental game. So start the clock you’re minutes away from hitting great shots on the range and on the course.
BLOCK AND ROLL
If you have an hour at the range, dedicate the first 20 minutes to what’s called “block” practice—repeatedly performing a single swing skill. Make it specific: taking the club back onplane with the help of a training aid, improving shoulder turn (like I’m doing above), or adding a new wrinkle to your setup. It’s all about repetition in a controlled environment. Use one club and one target, and give yourself a nice lie. The lone goal? Getting comfortable with new swing moves. And as you perform the drill(s), don’t just bang balls—be aware of feelings and thoughts that help make the move automatic.
Once you complete “block” training, it’s time to work on transferring your new skills to the course. This should constitute the bulk of your practice time (about 35 minutes of an hour-long range session). We teachers call this “randomizing”—hitting different clubs to different targets on every swinG (full driver, then a cut 7-iron, then a three-quarter wedge, etc.). In essence, you’re test driving your “block” practice moves in a real-round environment. It’s more challenging than repetitive drills, so it helps you make your best swings when the pressure’s on.
Take the final few minutes of your session to assess your performance. And stay positive—find at least one thing that deserves a pat on the back. (“I shaped three draws with my driver. Awesome!”) The goal: Leave happy and ready for more. Positivity can fuel your practice in other ways. After every swing in your “block” and random sessions, reward good shots and good efforts with a smile, a fist pump or an internal vote of confidence (“You own short irons, man!”). Follow poor attempts with a corrective, post-shot practice swing to visualize the feel or shot you wanted. This isn’t feel-good mumbojumbo: Learning to coach yourself on the range makes you mentally stronger and a better swing manager on the course. The more you reward good shots in practice, the easier it is to summon them in a round.