If you’ve been around the game for any length of time, you’ve surely said or heard, “I don’t know why I can’t seem to take it from the range to the course.” That statement is filled with the frustration associated with hitting the ball better on the range than on the course. Younger golfers, who spend much more time working on the range than do adults, are especially prone to this type of complaint.
The difference between the range and the golf course is obvious. On the range, players often hit the same club to the same target. With enough time and repetition the environment on the range is conducive to finding a rhythm or a groove. The golf course offers an environment that is quite the opposite – no two shots are the same and keeping score creates a mix of negative emotions (nervousness, anger, frustration, etc.) that can affect performance.
So, what’s the trick to allowing the skills a player develops in practice to transfer to the golf course? The key is to have training and practice sessions with the same kind of pressure and conditions that players will experience on the golf course. Players must be engaged in the same mental process during practice that they will draw upon when they play.
Simulate the Golf Course
Even the best ranges lack the characteristics and challenges that the course presents. To overcome this, players need to use their imagination to recreate shots that they find on the course. For example, two flags on the range can represent the edges of the fairway. I also recommend playing an entire round on the range by creating fairways, picking greens, and changing targets and clubs with each shot.
Use Your Entire Process
Routines are the glue of the golf swing. Both pre-shot and post-shot routines need to be practiced and refined so that they can become habits that can be relied upon during competition. Other mental skills can also be practiced while hitting shots at targets on the range. We recommend that young golfers use the 1 in 1 rule – hit one shot per minute – to leave enough time to go through the same process they use on the course.
Practicing with Adversity
Adding adversity to a practice session is one of the most important elements of the transfer process and is also one of the most difficult to implement. We know that the course offers adversity in many forms – difficult lies, hazards, the pressure of counting every stroke. You can add pressure to your practice sessions by engaging in games, creating challenging scenarios, and adding consequences for poor performances. A consequence that involves additional practice time or extra reps can be very effective.
In summary, the basic formula for getting the work you do on the range to transfer to the course is to:
Jeff Isler shares his observations, insights, and experiences on the game of golf and those that play it at a high level.