How to take your range game to the course

Iain Highfield
  • Author: Iain Highfield
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Golf ball in the rough

As coaches, all too often we engage in the following conversation:

Coach: “How did you play?”

Player: “Rubbish, but I don't get it, I hit it so well on the range.”

The question: “Why didn’t my range game transfer over to the course?”

Fortunately, the Game Like Training team gets it. In fact, we thought out this series of articles to provide you with practice tasks that will help you transfer that spectacular range game to the golf course, so you might never ask that question again.

Before we do this, it is important that you understand why the above is the most asked question in golf.

The key to having your best ball striking show up when you need it the most (i.e. in a Sunday medal or the club championship) is to add context to your practice.

By practicing on the golf course, you are exposed to interference. Bunkers, water, trees and varying lies provide environmental interference. Through making your practice “game like,” you are exposed to psychological interference as you are competing for a score or to complete a level. This means your practice will look real, feel real and provide a higher chance of your best swing showing up on the course as you learn to deal with the contextual interferences that golf provides.

Let’s put it like this, if you decided you wanted to become an olympic swimmer and were presented with the following options, which would you choose?

1. Swim daily in your bath tub and perfect your stroke.
2. Go to the pool and learn to race against other swimmers.


I am sure most of you reading this article would obviously select option 2. However, when it comes to golf, most players select the equivalent of learning to swim in the bath tub, aka, the golf range.

It’s not that the golf range doesn’t serve a purpose. Understanding that it is just one part of the process to improving is vital. In fact, it is often something that golfers fail to understand as they become content repeatedly hitting their favorite club down the range. While this may feel nice and produce a sense of confidence, at some point, a player must step out of this comfortable environment and test their swing in context.

So, here it is:

Game 1 - deal with the pressure of playing for score. Start from the forward tees. When you manage to get to 2 under par (net,) move to the tees you would normally play and maintain this score (net) for 3 holes.

• If your score gets to plus 2 (net,) reset

• If you 3 putt at any time, reset

• If you fail to maintain the 2 under (net) when you move back, reset.

• Once you complete the above, repeat the game, but start from the set of tees one back from where you started the previous task.

How does this help?

Through having the psychological stress of an outcome or scoring target thrust upon us in practice, we can start to implicitly build the coping strategies to deal with this stress in tournament play. Next week, the on course game to help fix that slice.