14Sep, 2015
Range practice

Consistency in Golf is Not the Key to Lower Scores

When I talk to golfers about the things they believe they need to do to shoot lower scores, I usually get two answers – hit longer shots and more consistency. Today I want to focus on the mis-belief that players tend to have that more consistency will help them shoot lower scores.


To me consistency in golf means that you are able to repeat the same thing over and over again to reproduce the same results. To accomplish this, golf has developed into the only sport in which we don’t practice on the same field as that on which we play. Golfers stand on a driving range with perfectly flat lies, hit balls to targets that look nothing like what is on the course and face no consequences for their results like those experienced on the course. Golfers will work on swing positions and technique believing that if they can place the club in the perfect position over and over again they will then be able to reproduce that swing motion on call and hit great golf shots. This is nothing like the reality of playing golf.


Outside of tee shots, it is extremely rare that a shot on the golf course is from a perfectly flat lie. On the course every shot requires a slightly different set up to allow for variances in stance and differing lies. The target you must hit to is different every shot. Some require a higher ball flight while others a lower ball flight. Some shots require you to aim away from water or bunkers, or to hit the shot a little longer or shorter than a particular club usually flies.


There is a huge disconnect between REAL golf and RANGE golf. As a result golfers are fixated on swing mechanics and consistency, delivering mixed results in terms of transferring new skills to the golf course and shooting lower scores. If your goal is to shoot lower scores then your focus must be on adaptability and getting the ball in the hole faster.


In most sports a Coach is there to guide you through game like scrimmages on the actual playing field, working on developing playing skills within playing situations. These scrimmages are designed to challenge the player through variability. They are not easy and require attention to detail but performance certainly improves. Why should golf be the only sport not to practice in this manner? It is time for a change.


Make the decision to change the way you practice. Focus on developing skills that will be adaptable and practice using those skills in a variety of situations. Challenge your self to develop scoring skills and not simply swing positions. You may not look like everyone else on the range but then again you will not score like them either.


Teeing off

  1. Peter Sanders says:

    Well done Derek!

  2. Anthony says:

    I only have time to play once a week and usually spend the time with my coach at the driving range. Less than half of my shots are straight because of some bad habits that I’m trying to get out of (not transferring my weight properly, bending or lifting my legs, moving my head, releasing the club too soon). Would you recommend me to continue practicing at the driving range until my swings are more “consistent” or get out on the course to concentrate on my “real playing” skills?

    • Derek Hooper says:

      Hi Anthony

      Congratulations on being committed to your game and working with a coach. I always encourage my players to play while we are working on new skills. Playing the game is what provides the most fun and it is also important to learn to transfer the new skills to the course. I would like to see you continue your work with your coach working on improving your technique, but also spend some time on the course developing your playing skills. Keep in mind that it is not consistency that you are looking for, but rather a swing that is adaptable to the situations you will face on the course. It is very difficult to create those situations if you are only playing on the range.

      All the very best with your golf game

      • Peter says:

        Derek & Anthony,
        When time is an issue, one can get creative and play the long game shots of a round on the range. I used to do this when time was limited and to practice the key shots for an upcoming away event.

        After a brief warmup, play the drives, advancements and approach shots that would be faced during an actual round. Vary and visualize targets and shot shapes needed for each shot and then hit them as you would on the course. Each missed or poorly hit shot is a point (or bogey) and hitting successful shots for a hole is -1 (e.g. successful drive and approach on a Par 4). Try to play to your handicap # or better.

        An 18-hole game should take no more that 30 – 40 minutes.

        • Derek Hooper says:

          Excellent suggestion Peter. That is a game I will have my players use on the range, but we score a point for a hit fairway and a point for a hit green in regulation. Goal is as many points as possible with a total of 18 available for 9 holes, then each rounds goal is to beat previous best score. I will mix it up next season and use your scoring system.

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