PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — Collin Morikawa is only 25 years old, but with already two majors to his name, his ball-striking has become the stuff of legend.
As the story goes, once, while on the golf team at the University of California, Berkley, a Trackman combine revealed his 6-iron was so accurate it was comparable to most elite players‘ pitching wedge.
With a golf swing — and indeed, results — as automatic as that, you might expect an approach that’s fairly regimented. Hours on the range, practicing the same swing and the same shot, over and over again.
But in reality, Morikawa’s approach is the opposite.
“I’m not doing a ton on the range,” he said on Tuesday ahead of The Players Championship. “I’m just going to go out and play golf.”
That doesn’t mean he never hits the range to work on his technique. Of course he does — they all do. But generally speaking, Morikawa prefers a more randomized style of practice: an approach where players hit lots of different types of shots, often to different targets with different clubs. It’s something the rest of us can and should do more of.
Playing holes on the range
As Morikawa’s coach, Rick Sessinghaus, explained at our recent GOLF Top 100 Teachers Summit: Morikawa grew up spending more time practicing on the golf course than most do. They’d practice hitting different shots from the same spot, inventing new ways to navigate the challenges of the course in front of him.
Even at a young age, it meant Morikawa was blending playing and practicing. He wasn’t doing either; he was doing both. He was practicing playing golf. That’s true whether he’s on the course or on the range.
“I don’t really like to hit balls on the range. But when I do, I just play the holes in my head,” he said. “That’s how I’ve always grown up practicing. I’ll literally step on the range, tee up driver like I would on [the first hole at TPC Sawgrass], hit a pitching wedge or 9-iron, then go on to the next hole and hit a draw 3-wood or a draw driver and then hit a 5-wood. I just play the course nonstop.”
It’s something the rest of us can do at home: don’t hit the same shot twice in a row on the range. Instead, visualize yourself playing holes. Visualize a fairway, and a green, and don’t give yourself mulligans. Take your practice more seriously, and maybe you’ll get a little closer to playing.