‘I’d start panicking’: Why this top 10 player feared the driving range

Xander Schauffele is one of the best players in golf, but he also used to be a driving range rat.

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The more I talk to pros, and their teachers, the more I’ve come to appreciate the driving range as a necessary evil. It’s good — sometimes. It helps — sometimes. But it doesn’t take much for the driving range to actually start hurting your game. To distract you from the ultimate goal of learning to play golf.

It’s a lesson most good players have to learn at some point — even those who went on to become the very best in the world. Rory McIlroy is a reformed range rat, and so, it turns out, is Xander Schauffele.

In an interesting “Range Talk” interview published this week on Callaway Golf’s YouTube page, Xander explains that as a junior golfer, he would routinely spend hours on the range.

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“When I was a kid, I’d sleep on the range,” he says. “That’s where I developed my golf swing. But when I was young I kept chasing golf swing.”

His driving range addiction was so bad, it would only take a couple of bad shots to send him into full-blown panic mode.

“I’d start panicking when I was a kid. I’d say: ‘I’m hooking it, why am I hooking it? And I’d sit here for five hours,” he said. “That’s when I realized it’s not about the range, it’s about what happens out on the course. Figuring out what kind of player I am, what I do well, what I don’t, learning how to flight it into different winds.”

Xander’s new driving range approach

Nowadays, Xander takes a simpler, more basic approach. He doesn’t even spend much time on the range, he says. But when he does, it’s to do basic checks on his setup. He tells himself that everything else that happens simply “doesn’t matter.”

“Whether I’m here for 15 minutes, 20 minutes, I’ll just work on setup. I have a kind of baseline that I like to work towards. I get into a good body position, distance from the ball,” he says.

After he gets comfortable and makes sure his setup is squared away, he’ll spend the remainder of his session trying to hit different numbers with a variety of clubs.

“I’m trying to find my range and get my feel from certain numbers,” he says.

You can watch the full video right here:

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Luke Kerr-Dineen

Golf.com Contributor

Luke Kerr-Dineen is the Game Improvement Editor at GOLF Magazine and GOLF.com. In his role he oversees the brand’s game improvement content spanning instruction, equipment, health and fitness, across all of GOLF’s multimedia platforms.

An alumni of the International Junior Golf Academy and the University of South Carolina–Beaufort golf team, where he helped them to No. 1 in the national NAIA rankings, Luke moved to New York in 2012 to pursue his Masters degree in Journalism from Columbia University. His work has also appeared in USA Today, Golf Digest, Newsweek and The Daily Beast.