9 driving-range habits that will help you practice (and look!) like a seasoned pro

Tiger Woods on the range at the PGA Championship last week.

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On the course, everyday duffers have no chance of keeping up with the pros.

The same is true on the driving range.

But at least there we can keep up appearances.

Here are 9 ways to make it look like you know what you’re doing when you practice (even if you don’t).

1. Limber up

Even in his teens, long before his body became an Operation board game, Tiger Woods adhered to a regimented pre-range stretching routine. You needn’t drop into a downward dog. But if you want to fake it until you make it, at least windmill your arms and touch your toes.

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2. Use alignment sticks

Just because your shots fly in all directions doesn’t mean your body can’t be pointed properly to start. Even the best players in the world need to double check alignment. They know that there’s no shame in a visual aid.

3. Employ a pre-shot routine

A lot of amateurs treat practice sessions like aerobic workouts, smashing balls in such quick succession that they’ve got the next shot teed up before the previous one lands. Hint: That’s not how the pros do it. If you want to pass as a serious player, implement a pre-shot routine.

4. Work through your set

We know you want to let the big dog eat. But it’s a better look to start with half-swing wedges and work your way up. And get this: It might even help your game.

5. Pick a target

Pros don’t whack balls willy-nilly. Choose something to aim for. Something specific. A tree branch. A flagstick. And, no, the range picker doesn’t count.

6. Tidy up

A bucket of balls dumped on the ground. Clubs scattered about like kindling. Those are sloppy signs of a sloppy player. The tighter the game, the tidier looking the hitting area. Keep all but a few balls in the bucket, and every club but the one you’re swinging in your bag.

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7. Contain your divot patterns

The range is not farmland in need of tilling, even if amateurs treat it that way, taking hacks in no particular pattern until they’ve turned up a giant swath of turf. The professional look is to work in a linear pattern, hitting from the back end of your last divot. Save your random gardening for home.

8. Bring a launch monitor

Many of today’s models are modestly priced, and, boy, do they create an air of expertise. Set one down beside you and, every now and then, click the buttons and inspect the numbers. No one needs to know that you can’t tell a spin rate from a mortgage rate.

9. Get locked in

This just in. You are not Butch Harmon. Don’t stand there watching other golfers hitting balls, arms crossed, head cocked, as if you’ve got something insightful to say. Pros aren’t so easily distracted. Keep your eyes locked on what you’re doing, or set your gaze on the horizon, looking like you see things that others can’t.

Want to overhaul your bag for 2022? Find a fitting location near you at GOLF’s affiliate company True Spec Golf. 

josh sens

Josh Sens

Golf.com Photographer

A golf, food and travel writer, Josh Sens has been a GOLF Magazine contributor since 2004 and now contributes across all of GOLF’s platforms. His work has been anthologized in The Best American Sportswriting. He is also the co-author, with Sammy Hagar, of Are We Having Any Fun Yet: the Cooking and Partying Handbook.