You’ve checked out of work, the clubs are in the backseat and you can zone out at the driving range for an hour. What do we do to get the most out of this hour? Let’s say you are playing pretty well and nothing requires drastic attention, you just want to find small upgrades in each part of your golf game. Let's design the perfect hour of practice around the four areas, Approach, Drives, Short Game, and Putting.
Off the bat we are going to start with full swing work, it lets you warm up and your body is fresh for full-speed practice. Give yourself 5-10 minutes of stretching and warm-up shots starting with half swings and finishing with full speed swings. Our first piece of practice will be distance control at 100 yards, for this, I love to play a four-ball game. I hit one shot roughly 100 yards and then the next three shots need to land as close to that first ball as possible. Do this three or four times until you can get all four landing in about the same area. Next, we can move on to mid to long irons and our clubface ladder drill. Aligning square to a target, try to hit a ball as far left or right as possible, each shot will then be hit closer to the center line without crossing over it. Repeat on the other side. This drill is the best way to understand how to control the direction of your ball. It is very challenging but quickly builds a high level of feel for your swing. 15 to 20 minutes into practice and we can now move on to the driver. First things first, let's make sure we are hitting the center of the clubface. Create a gate using tees just slightly wider than your driver's face (angle the tee on the hosel so the club can pass it without hitting the shaft). Hit four or five shots without hitting any of the gate tees, if the first couple of times you do it successfully narrow the gate. If there is still time hold three fingers up to your eye, the edges of your three fingers are the width of your fairway. See how many shots in a row you can hit in the fairway. Now that we have challenged our full swing let's move to the scoring skills.
With a half hour to practice, we are going to focus on chipping and holing short putts. The first challenge with chipping will be leapfrog. Create a rectangle that is about 6 steps long and 2-3 steps wide. Chip from 3-5 yards away from the rectangle. The first shot will go just past the closest line, the next shot goes past the previous one, and so on until a shot finishes outside the rectangle. This drill is terrific for developing touch around the greens. See how many shots you can successfully leapfrog without missing the rectangle. After 10-15 minutes of this move over to the putting green to finish practice. For the last drill, we are going to do the double gate drill. Find a putt 6-8ft straight uphill, and place a ball down. Create a gate the width of your putter head with the ball in the middle. Halfway between the ball and the cup create another gate the width of the ball. Try to hit 5 putts in a row without hitting the putter head gate or the ball gate. You will see some tendencies pop up like hitting one side of the gate, this will tell you if you are hitting the ball in the center of the face (vital for distance control) or pulling/pushing putts. If you can hit 5 in a row through both gates then finish up with 3-10 ft putts attempting to make 5/7 putts without repeating a putt. This hour of practice will fly by and be far more beneficial than the hour of beating balls at the range or making 100 three-foot putts. Keep your practice fun, make it task-oriented, and stay away from too much repetition.