The concept of just setting out onto a golf course as a beginner can be a little bit terrifying. The rules and regulations that must be followed at a Golf Club are overwhelming when you're first starting out, thankfully driving ranges exist as the perfect option for beginners to hone their skills without the pressure of expectations that come when playing at a Club.
Driving ranges are a great low cost, low pressure way to get to know your set of clubs and develop your swing before setting out onto an 18 hole course. Driving ranges allow you to train at your pace, with your club, and take as much time as you need to get comfortable with the sport. Some driving ranges even offer lessons with professional players.
With a bucket of balls only costing a few dollars, nothing is stopping you from heading out to your local driving range to get some practice in. However, we get it, trying anything new can be daunting. So we’re here to provide you with all the information you need to feel comfortable stepping out onto your first driving range.
In this article, we're going to talk you through a few of the different types of driving ranges and also provide you with the few tips that are perfect for golfing beginners. We’ll also throw in some drills that you can do on the driving range, that will not only help you to improve your game but will hopefully also give you enough confidence to take your game out onto a full 18 hole course. Enter your text here...
All Driving Ranges Aren’t Equally Made
Though most driving ranges will be pretty similar at their core, there are a few things that will differ from range to range.
For example, while most ranges will be made from reel turf, you will find the occasional driving range but comes with artificial turf. While the idea of artificial turf is appealing, your club will bounce off the turf if you strike it - on average giving you a better shot - this doesn’t truly replicate the conditions of a real golf course. Striking true grass before hitting the ball can cause you to slice your shot.
We recommend practicing on real grass from the start, but some like to begin on artificial turf. You might want to do a little research into your local driving range before arriving - especially if you want to practice on real grass.
Another thing we’d recommend you research about your local driving range is how early they open and how late they close.
One of the huge pluses of driving ranges is that you don’t have to commit to half a day of golfing as you do on an 18 hole course. So if you only have an hour in your day available to practice, then going to a driving range will allow you to make the most of that time.
You must find a driving range that has opening hours that work with your schedule - if you have spare time before you go to work, look for ranges that open early, or if you’re free later in the evening, look for ranges that are lit at night.
Our Top 4 Driving Range Tips
Even though there are no dress codes or strict structures at the driving range, which is quite the opposite of playing at the club on an 18 hole course. However, there are some habits that we recommend you start developing from the very start of your golfing journey.
The first of these is stretching before you practice. There is a common misconception that golf is a sedentary sport, so there’s no need to work on warming up your body. This is far from the truth. Before you start take 5-10 minutes to stretch out all your key muscles to avoid injury.
As we mentioned there are no dress codes at the driving range, but we do recommend getting used to playing in golf shoes. The more you can practice before you get out on the course the better you’ll feel when you get there. Golf shoes will also give you the stability on the turf to hit harder, and give you lower body support.
We also recommend you get in the habit of cleaning and checking over your clubs before you play. Dirty clubs can really lower the quality of your hitting, so getting into the habit of cleaning your clubs can help improve your game. We recommend checking over your clubs every time you play to prevent any long term damage being done to them without you noticing. This habit will also help you to understand your clubs a lot better.
Develop your Pre-Swing Routine
As we mentioned before, we think that you should start developing good habits as early as possible. The driving range is the perfect low pressure environment to start developing your Pre-Swing routine.
A Pre-Swing routine is a series of actions that you do before every shot you take. You’ll notice most professional players have one of these routines in place. These are usually composed of deep breathing, lining up your shot, and taking a few practice swings.
It’s better to develop these routines when there is no pressure on you to perform so that when the pressure comes you have a solid foundation to return to. Make the most of your time on the range to find a routine that works for you.
Go with a plan
Heading onto the driving range with the complete freedom to do whatever you want can be overwhelming. We recommend planning ahead of time what you’ll be doing in your next session.
Many athletes split their week into sessions focusing on one element of their game, but others practice a bit of everything in every session. Both of these are good options, but what will work best for you depends on how you learn best.
Why not try practicing everything for two weeks, you’ll find yourself dreading certain clubs or practice shots because they’re difficult. Once you discover those areas, start dedicating practice sessions for those individual skills.
We recommend spending some time to work out what is best for you, or hop online and find a pre-made plan designed by a trainer.
Practice With Every Club
The driving range is a great place to practice because not only can you chose exactly what you want to, but you are in a place where you can practice EVERY element of the game of golf.
We really recommend taking the time at the driving range to practice with every club you own. If you do this, any situation you face on (or off) the fairway will feel a lot less overwhelming after all the practice you’ve done on the range.
BONUS TIP: Be patient with yourself - this is probably the hardest thing for beginners to do, and not just in golf. It’s okay to not be an expert by the end of your first session at the driving range. Every professional golfer hit hundreds of thousands of balls to get to where they are today. Be patient with yourself, have fun learning something new, and don’t beat yourself up if you make mistakes.
Best Driving Range Drills
The best way to make the most of your drills is to keep records of and reflect on the time you spend practicing. This way you can see where you’re making progress, and where you need to invest more time.
This drill sounds strange, but it works! Place a bucket on your chest, using the pressure from your arms whilst holding your club to keep it there. Holding the bucket like this will prevent you from swinging your club down too steeply, as you can’t bring your arms too close together which is often the cause of the steepness.
Find an obvious landmark within your middle distance range (or if it’s safe, put down a towel or hat). Now keep taking chipping shots until you hit your target 5 times in a row. Once you’ve done that, pick a slightly more challenging target and repeat.
This drill is simple, is there an area of your game that you struggle with? Get a bucket of 100 golf balls, and keep practicing this skill until you’ve run out of balls. You’ll be surprised by how effective this is.
To Sum Up
The driving range is the perfect place for beginners to properly build the foundations of their game. It’s a place to make the most of the freedom to practice every element of the sport, to practice with no time or competitive pressures, and to develop a deeper knowledge of their equipment and techniques. Get out there!