If you are serious about getting better at golf, then you will need to spend some time on the driving range working on your game. But simply pounding balls off into the open expanses of the range just won’t get it done. To see improvement you will need to structure your practice program and have a definite plan for improvement. To improve as quickly as possible you must have a plan for every practice session and be able to record your results so you can check your progress.
Ideally you will spend the first part of your practice session engaged in improving some of the technical components of your swing. Hopefully you have taken a lesson with a PGA Professional to identify what the required technical changes are, and the drills you need perform in order to make those changes. Work through the drills focusing on the motion or positions you are trying to change and assess each shot on how successful you are with respect to that. Do NOT focus on target or ball flight during this part of your practice session. Rather feel like you are simply standing on the beach and hitting balls into the ocean.
Having completed your technical practice you should take a small break. Take a walk or go get a drink of water. Do something to relax for a few minutes and get ready to refocus on the next component of your practice session. Having taken a small break now you can begin working on some target exercises and test how well you have incorporated the technical changes.
A great drill for doing target work with your full swing is the five ball drill. When working through this drill, keep in mind that a key to good scoring is not only how good your good shots are that will determine how you score on the course. It is far more important how good your poor shots are. Slight misses are far better than big misses, and mis-hits that finish on the green are even better.
Choose your sand wedge and an appropriate target. Then using your full pre-shot routine for each ball hit five balls to the chosen target, recording +1 point for every acceptable shot and –1 point for every shot that is unacceptable, or misses your target. Remember that an acceptable shot need not be perfectly struck. It is the end result you are assessing.
Next take your nine iron, choose an appropriate target for the club and repeat the drill with five more balls using the same scoring system. Repeat the exercise again using your 7 iron, 5 iron, 3 iron or utility club, a fairway wood and the driver. Record your total score for all the clubs combined.
Total scores are usually not very high due to the subtraction of points for unacceptable shots. What is important is that you record your score each time you complete this drill and try to improve your score each week. You can mix things up a little by using the even clubs one week and the odd clubs the next. You may even use every club in your bag if you have time to hit them all in one session. Try this exercise the next time you are on the range and let me know how you go.