How to Have Fun Practicing at the Driving Range

By John Elliott

Creative Practicing

I have a funny feeling from many years in the game that a lot of you don't practice because when you go to the practice tee you find it boring. What I would suggest to you is that you come up with creative practicing. Creative practicing is taking the environment, taking the lay of the land, and using it to help you shape and or hit better golf shots. Let me give you an example.

Use the Environment

As we turn and look over here I have a pine tree to the left, an oak tree to the right and I have a little canopy that I am going to hit golf shots through but I am going to do it with too much loft. What do I mean? I have my 7-iron here and when I put my magnet on the 7-iron's face this red spot at the very top with the tee in it actually has this club hitting the ball though the top of the trees. For me to practice hitting the ball through or under the trees I would have to be arriving at impact with a forward leaning shaft. Look where that magnet is showing the ball would take off. I am intentionally using too much loft and training myself to deloft it during the swing so that I can hit the ball under that canopy of trees.

Practice Scenarios

It is always good to have a second club because you can lay it down and you can use it for directional control since this exercise is predominantly for distance and height control. I have a good lie, I am going to get myself set and I am going to hit a full shot and I am going to work on having a forward leaning shaft. Let's see if I can get it to go under that branch. It went right underneath, right though the center and when I hit that you heard three collisions producing one noise. In one of the earlier tapes that I did, I did one on CBG, club, ball, ground. Well you just heard club, ball, ground collision. Three collisions, one noise, beautiful control trajectory underneath the tree even though this golf club and the loft on the face is built to hit the ball over the tree.

Hitting Low Balls

This time I am not going to work on trying to hit the ball lower. I am just going to hit a normal 7-iron and it should hit up in the tree because of the natural loft on the face, so watch. And it did. It went through the upper quarter of that tree, which is what it should have done. But you know what is cool, if we walked out there with the camera and we showed you those two balls, they traveled the same distance. The difference is one was on a lower trajectory with some bounce and roll and the other was on a higher trajectory and when it hit it basically stopped. So if you find that your practice is getting very boring, you are just not having fun with it, you feel like it is something you have to do versus what you want to do, become creative.

If you want to hit a curve all you have to do is preset the face in the direction you want to see the ball curve. Unless you experience what I call the freak out factor the ball will curve exactly where you aim the face of the club. I will give you one little tid bit on this one. Watch this shot. I am going to change my aim, I am going to go more towards that bunker so that our viewers can see this ball in flight. I am going to let you see something that most people never see, I am going to show you how much I am going to close this face. Here is normal, that is going parallel to the club on the ground. I am going to shut the face about 45 degrees. I am going to take my grip, normal grip, face is shut 45 degrees, this ball will go nowhere near that bunker. I know my cameraman can not see it but it is way over here, still going, still going, climbing the hill. The reason it is, is by the time this 7-iron actually hit the ball, because I had shut the face so much, that seven was more like a four. If I went out and paced that one off with the shut faced compared to the first two that we hit trough and under the tree, you would find that one probably went 25 to 35 yards longer because of the clubface. Again, if you are getting bored go to creative practice. Find some things that you would like to teach yourself when you are on the tee instead of avoiding it because you are not having any fun. This is a game of challenges and fun, even if you have to create your own fun.

About the Instructor