Golf 101: In Season Practice Range Work by Matthew M. Rosman

Now that the season is underway and some rounds of golf have been played practice time and strategy needs some adjusting. This is the time to perform a personal inventory to evaluate or apportion your time and attention to key areas of work. For example, which of these areas need priority to lower your score the next time you play: tee shots, fairway woods, long irons, short irons, wedges, bunker shots, or putting?

Honest assessment is important here. Where is the skill least effective in terms of scoring? Perhaps your tee shots are long and straight. Maybe your putting is deadly accurate. But your chips and pitch shots are inconsistent and your distance control is shaky. Sometimes, you hit it fat and sometimes you top your shots. As a result, the score soars because of your wedge play. Therefore, the majority of your practice time should be on wedge shots that exactly match the yardages and "carry" that you have trouble with when you play.

Most golfers are not honest with themselves about their distances and usually only are aware of their full swing distances. An essential aspect of time at the range is to obtain distance averages for all clubs and to obtain yardages for those short game irons for chips, pitches, punches, and full swings. Write it down at the range! Look at distance in the air (carry) and roll on the ground in yardage. Don't expect to spin it back like the professionals until you have practiced and can document as close as possible on the practice range.

Hitting golf balls is only one aspect of range practice; observation and analysis is equally as important. Hold your finish after a shot and look at your posture and wrist positions. It never will fail to reveal the truth about your swing motion and alignments. Many golfers cannot even hold their finish position and count to five because of significant balance issues.

Of course, range balls do not carry as far as regular golf balls but you can get a sense of your on-course expectations at the range. Impact tape on the face of your clubs is important to also see variances when changing from chip to pitch and from pitch to full swing with the same club. There should be no variance from the sweet spot or center of the club face if the swing procedure is correct. How you impact the ball does not change even though your length of swing changes!

Look at your club after a round and examine the impact marks of each club and make a note. Then clean your clubfaces so that you are ready to check your next round. During a round, if your shot is off immediately check your clubface and note where you struck it. Jot it down so that you have information and direction for your next range session. Heel and toe shots need analysis and time at the range to work on. Never assume that your miss hits are the same with each club. Look and evaluate. Maybe your problem is that the lie angle of the club is wrong for you and needs adjustment.

Tee shots are always a major concern and distance is a priority. Sadly, the shots into the green are the scoring shots and for most golfers need as much or more practice time as your tee shots with that big driver. Most errant tee shots are due to swinging too hard or failure to tee the ball to the right height for that model driver. Make sure that you know where the optimal launch point is for your model driver. Consult with the store that you bought it from or contact the manufacturer.

Half of your practice time should be spent putting. Learning to read greens and how to regulate distance is a big key to lowering your handicap. Take time and practice putting from different distances to learn how to lag it to the hole.

Your time at the range should be directed toward current weak areas recently observed after your last round. Efficiency in practice leads to improvement in scoring the next time you play. If you are taking lessons during the season, take your last round observations and practice concerns to your teaching professional.

When working with my clients, I always start the lesson by making inquires about recent rounds, practice focus, and overall in-season observations. Using a journal to keep accurate records of observations about rounds and practice trends helps to keep progress on track as well as ensure that the most important items occurring during the season are addressed immediately. Drills are essential. Your instructor can create a customized practice series of drills to address your in season needs so that time spent at the range is not just about hitting as many golf balls as you can. Personalize your practice!

Replay holes on the range that you had trouble with and replay the golf putting situations in terms of distances and breaks that you also had trouble with. It's imperative to bring those experiences back to the lesson tee and practice tee. The bottom line is that we don't look for results at the range we seek feedback. Feedback allows us to get better so that we experience better results on the course the next time we play. Make your practice valuable and customize it to present needs and watch your scores go down!

To schedule a golf lesson or for more information, please contact Matthew Rosman Play Golf, The Training Zone, 1937 Jericho Turnpike, East Northport, NY 11731, (631) 462-5566.