Why Do I Hit Better At The Driving Range? (Solutions Included)

Does this sound familiar?

You stand at the driving range and hit shot after shot exactly how you want to.

You can stand there with your driver and hit 20 shots right at your target.

You pull out your 7 iron and hit around 20 shots right at your target.

Everything is in sync and you are dialed in.  You take your swing keys and head to the course the next day, only to feel like you have never golfed before as you hit terrible shots that you never once hit on the driving range!

Why does this happen?  We are here to help!

Why Do I Hit Better At The Driving Range?

There are a number of reasons you might be experiencing better range sessions compared to how you hit the ball on the golf course.  Some of the top reasons we will dive into today include:

  • You mainly use block practice at the driving range
  • You lack consequences for your shots
  • You are more relaxed at the driving range
  • You lack specific targets at the driving range
  • You do not have a specific carry distance
  • There are no visual limitations on the driving range
  • The pressure gets to you on the golf course

The 7 reasons above are the most common issues why someone struggles to take their golf swing to the golf course from the driving range.  Many driving range heros have struggled to perform on the golf course over the years.  It is only of the only games that we don’t practice on the actual playing field, but instead at a wide open field with plenty of flags and very little consequences.

It can be difficult to replicate a shot like the one above at the driving range!

#1 You mainly use block practice at the driving range

Block practice is when you hit the same club more than 1 time in a row.  Oftentimes, the golfer will stand there and hit anywhere from 5-20 shots with the same club.  This allows the golfer to develop a feel and can manipulate the club to hit shots that they would expect. 

On a golf course, you might only hit a driver every 15-30 minutes, but at the range you can hit one every 30 seconds.  The golfer builds the feel and is able to make minor adjustments to stripe shot after shot at the driving range.

5 Tips and Keys to practicing at the driving range

#2 You lack consequences for your shots

At the driving range, you know there is always another ball you can grab and hit.  This leads to a lack of consequences which allows the golfer to swing freely with little tension.  As a result, the quality of the shots are better.  When you combine this approach with block practice you can see how a golfer can get into a groove and hit plenty of great shots.

#3 You are more relaxed at the driving range

The driving range is usually a fun place.  There are people practicing all around you, the weather is probably nice and you can chat it up with a friend that is nearby.  As a result, you are relaxed.  Compare that to the 1st tee shot of a day or coming down the 18th hole needing a par to shoot a certain score.  As a result, the tension is low and the body moves more freely resulting in well struck shots!

This 213 yard par 3 has lots of complication and visual barriers. Bunkers, trees, significant drop off at back of the green.

#4 You lack specific targets at the driving range

Oftentimes a golfer at the driving range is simply just hitting the ball.  If they hit it solid, they believe they hit a good shot, but do they have a target they were trying to hit or did they simply hit a shot and measure their success on how the shot felt?  Was there the pressure of out of bounds hanging out on the right side of the range or didn’t it matter?

Develop a stock shot and save some frustrating in your game!

#5 You do not have a specific carry distance

The golfer might be hitting 8 irons for example and hitting shot after shot.  They are aiming for a green on the course, but do not have a specific carry distance.  They are once again measuring their success by the quality of the strike, but what if the ball came up 5 yards short and would have been in the bunker. 

Or the shot you really caught well flies over the green by 5 yards and you end up 20 yards over the green.  Golfer ultimately need to have more specific targets, including carry distances both a minimum and maximum to work on their game.

#6 There are no visual limitations on the driving range

I know this happens to me when I play a new course.  I have a lack of awareness of what is beyond a certain part of the course.  Can I miss the shot left or right without too much damage?  This can lead to uncertainty and a less than confident golf swing. 

The course architect has often worked hard to try to make the golfer uncomfortable and have some self doubt creep in.  It might be the bunker sitting at 250 yards or the lake that is just creeping into the hole.  Or it could be an island green that makes things extra nerve wracking. 

At the end of the day, golf is supposed to be difficult and the course architect has done different things to make the course challenging, which includes certain visual limitations or challenges.

Learn to play target focused golf!

This 150 yard hole requires a specific carry distance and is trouble short and left.

#7 The pressure gets to you on the golf course

The one thing that makes a great golf shot so rewarding is that you were able to pull off a difficult task under pressure.  At the driving range there is very little pressure with no risk or reward on every shot.  You are simply there trying to find the perfect swing and if you hit a bad shot, no big deal.  But on the golf course, when you want it the most, the pressure might simply get to you. 

And this is no big deal, it has happened to many great golfers over the years.  The golfer simply needs to try to build pressure packed opportunities into practice and put themselves into these situations frequently on an actual golf course.

3 Best Mental Game Resources

Next Steps: Seek Solutions

Now that we have identified everything that is potentially causing a lack of performance on the golf course and stellar performance on the driving range, let’s look at some solutions that can help you take your game from the driving range to the golf course.

We want to build a practice routine that has pressure, consequences and simulates a round of golf as best as possible.

Solution #1: Practice How You Play

If you are hitting 100-120 golf balls during a practice session, only use the first 10-20 golf balls to get loose and then transition your practice session to the following game.

Simulate the Course

My number one go to game, whether I am by myself at the driving range or with a friend, is to simulate a course that you have played or would love to play.  Here is how it works: you start at the first hole and let’s say it is a 405 yard par 4 with a hazard to the left at 220 yards, but a slight bailout area to the right.  Set the parameters with different markers out on the driving range.

Go through your pre-shot routine and see if you can hit the targeted area you are trying to hit. Based on that drive, let’s say you have 165 left to the green.  Pull the appropriate club, set the target with some parameters and go ahead and make that shot as well. Keep track of how many times you can hit execute the intended shot. Over time, track your progress and see if you are getting better during your practice rounds.

This game is a great way to prepare for a round of golf the week leading up to a tournament or even the day of to help bring the power of visualization and help yourself feel comfortable that you have hit the shots many times before the actual tournament.  Standing and hitting at a driving range that is 150 yards wide probably will not bring the pressure that you need to prepare for the round, but mark something as the out of bounds that may appear on the course and all of a sudden it seems a bit more real.

Golf Practice Games (Top 22 Recommended)

Take a certain maker on the course and have them mark the edge of the green. For example, on this hole you better not go left or shot! If you are going to miss, you must miss to the right or a big long.

Solution #2: Measure Your Game

I would highly recommend using a tool like the Skytrak Launch Monitor or the Mevo+ Launch Monitor.  Both devices can give you the following information:

  • Swing speed
  • Ball speed
  • Launch Angle
  • Spin Rate
  • Spin Axis
  • Carry Distance
  • Total Distance

Check the current price of the Skytrak Launch Monitor here

Check the current price of the Mevo+ Launch Monitor here

These devices can be used both indoor and outdoor.  I have been able to extend my golf season and play year round with my Skytrak Golf Simulator setup.  See below for more information!  You might be less expensive than you think.  Make this dream a reality and have your own personalize practice area 365 days a year!

This data can help you understand if you hit the ball the intended distance.  Remember, if we are trying to hit a shot between 145 and 152 yards, hitting it 143 or 153 is not good.  But we need to know the exact distances, so we can assess our practice sessions and build a shot map of how far we hit each club in the bag.

How Can I Improve My Distance Control

Playing year round is simply amazing and great for the improvement process in your game! Your dream can become a reality!

My Secret To Golf Improvement

Let’s face it, in order to get really good at golf, we must practice frequently.  About three years ago, I made the leap and invested in a golf simulator build for my garage.  I went with a SkyTrak Launch Monitor and the TGC software and can now play over 100,000 courses including Augusta, Pebble Beach, Bethpage Black, Whistling Straits. St. Andrews and many other of the top 100 courses in the world.

This golf simulator setup, which is more affordable that you might imagine, has been a game changer.  I can now play golf everyday of the year regardless of rain, snow, cold weather or time of day.  I can practice or play rounds of golf.  I can stand in the 11th fairway at Augusta and with the auto-rewind feature I am able to practice my approach shots from various differences.

It is worth checking out through Rain or Shine Golf as they offer some incredible packages along with financing offers that are difficult to beat.

Some direct links to Rain or Shine Golf for pricing and financing:

Take Action – What You Can Do Today to Get Better

What does this mean for you?  I believe in the following recipe to get better:

1 – Improve your motion in the golf swing by identifying a golf instructor.  Here are some options:

Here is a list of golf instructors that we have reviewed:

2 – Train to swing faster and improve your swing speed.  Here are some options:

Looking to gain more Speed and Distance in your swing. Two Options:

3 – Understand course strategy and work to break through your next barrier.  Here is a series on breaking through:

We have provided guides on how to break 100, 90, 80 and 70. Check out more below, if interested.

4 – Practice Frequently

Did you know that I build a golf simulator in my garage and have played over 500 rounds of golf on my SkyTrak system?  It has been a game changer and one worth checking out. Here are some of my other posts on golf simulators frequently asked questions:

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