10 secrets Shane Lowry taught me in an hour on the driving range

Shane Lowry

Shane Lowry spent an hour with me on the driving range, talking golf and life.

Darren Riehl

Shane Lowry insists that he could never spend all day on a driving range.

But after an hour at this one, it feels like he was just getting going.

It’s a sweltering summer’s day when Lowry kindly agrees to meet me at Chris Cote’s Performance Center, a lovely green slice of rural Connecticut just down the road from TPC River Highlands, where he’s gearing up for the Travelers Championship.

Before Lowry, our most recent episode of “Warming Up” had featured Bryson DeChambeau, whose approach is proudly outside-the-box, proudly technical and proudly range-centric to the point where outside of tournament weeks, he almost never plays golf. His approach has also been extremely successful — he just won the U.S. Open, after all. Lowry recognizes all of that — but still.

“Obviously that works for Bryson — he’s a pretty good player,” he says with a chuckle. “But if I spend all my time on the range, I think I’d just be thinking about it too much. And when I start thinking about it, that’s when it goes wrong.”

Lowry practices plenty; he loves golf but also treats it as his job, which is why you can find him on the course or at the practice facility most working hours of most days. But the beauty of golf and my favorite part of this series is just how differently these pros approach the same goal of getting the ball in the hole as effectively as possible.

The session with DeChambeau was more X’s and O’s. During the session with Lowry, it often felt like the actual ball-hitting was secondary. Here are 10 things he taught me.

1. He can’t roll from the car to the first tee like he used to

Lowry practically rolls his eyes as he says it.

“I do, like, a little — it’s not a workout. Just something with my physio, like 20 minutes that I do.”

He’d started feeling the effects of a life on the road, a rotational sport and the realities of life in his mid-30s, so the past couple years he’s built in a bit more time. So Lowry gets to the course about an hour and a half before the round. He meets his caddie on the range 45 minutes pre-tee time. And then it’s go time.

2. He skips his odd irons, too

Another former “Warming Up” guest, Brooks Koepka, admitted that he never practices with his odd clubs. Turns out Lowry’s the same way. He starts with his 50-degree wedge and then goes 8-iron, 6-iron, 4-iron.

“Always evens. Never odds.”

I find myself drawn to the 8-iron during warmups, too, and it feels logical to drop to the 6 from there — or the 4, if time is tight. But I’d never considered that this might be a universal preference. Or just a thing with Srixon players?

3. Setup is everything

Lowry likes shaping shots in both directions, but his go-to shape is a small, left-to-right fade. How does he make that happen?

“I actually play with my ball position quite a bit forward, and that encourages a fade,” he said, explaining that if he keeps the ball in front of him, his club will exit left, promoting a left-to-right shape for a right-hander

“Probably the main thing I work on with my coach is setup stuff. As long as my alignment, posture, ball position, all that stuff is pretty similar to what it is, I’m going to play well. And when I’m not playing well, that just gets off,” he says. “I had a really bad weekend at Memorial and you feel a million miles away. I spent a couple hours on the range with my coach and it was just setup stuff. I was aiming way too far left. I was getting the ball too far back [in my stance] with my irons. I was getting a two-way miss and it just kinda spooked me, because my iron play has been so good all year. But it’s generally something pretty straightforward when it comes to us.”

As for amateurs? Setup is still the place to start, he says.

“I play loads of pro-ams and you see guys coming out and their setup is so wrong, but they’re working on something with the club back here,” he says, mimicking a complex swing adjustment. “And I’m like, if we get your setup correct, you’ve got a better chance of hitting a good shot.”

4. Speaking of pro-am partners: Shane has two messages

“I wouldn’t be a good coach,” he says. “Not very technically minded with the game.”

Still, he can dial up a quick, well-placed tip now and again.

“My favorite thing in the world to do is give someone a quick tip and then they start playing well for the rest of the pro-am and then they think you’re an absolute hero,” he says.

Those two messages both have to do with expectation management.

“To be honest, I ask them how much golf do they play. And they’ll be like, oh, this is my second game this year. And I’m like, well, I’d be s— too if I played only twice a year,” he says, laughing.

“I say to them, I’m like, I play golf with the best players in the world every day. You’re not going to impress me, so don’t try to,” he adds. “I think that’s a good piece of advice because they’re generally very nervous … it’s an intimidating place. Like, if you put me on a soccer field or something and got me to try and do that in front of a lot of people, I’d probably have a little bit of anxiety.”

5. He likes a driving-range drive-by chat

Pros have all sorts of different game day personalities as they warm up before tournament rounds; Lowry says he’s a talker.

“I talk to people and walk down the range and say hello to people, and if there’s one of my friends, I’ll stop and watch them hit a couple, see how they’re doing.”

Still, he’d prefer not to end up next to certain types of pros.

“There’s some players, I won’t name any names, who can get quite talkative on the range … some people will talk to you through the whole warmup,” he says. “To each their own, but if their coach is with them and they’re working on something and you’re listening to what they’re working on, it’s quite off-putting.” Fair enough.

6. True Tour friendships are valuable in many ways

Lowry says it’s not a long list of pros he’s close with, but he values those friendships. There are European Ryder Cup pals, guys like Rory McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood and Tyrrell Hatton; McIlroy in particular has become a close friend in recent years.

“I’d say in the last five years we’ve only become quite close. Like, our wives have become really close. They’re close as sisters, and our kids are similar ages, they hang out a little bit,” he says. The two teamed up for this year’s Zurich Classic, which they went on to win in a playoff. That’s no coincidence.

“It’s great because like, I play a lot of golf with him and playing against one of the best players in the world, it drags you towards that level.”

There are also Jupiter neighbors, guys like Erik van Rooyen.

“We live like 400 yards from each other,” he said.

And there are men from the same island, guys like Padraig Harrington, Graeme McDowell or Darren Clarke. On Harrington: “We’re not that close in age. But we get on very well — and two very different people, as well. But he’s great for me. I miss him out on Tour, actually. I like having him around, y’know, weeks of majors, the PGA, the Open.”

7. The range can be a “dangerous place”

Lowry takes aim at a yellow flag. He doesn’t spend much time visualizing virtual holes or creating fairways out here; he hits at targets.

“I’m just trying to get it to finish in on the yellow [flag],” he says. “And that’s why the range can be dangerous place at times as well. Because let’s say I stand here with a 3-iron and I miss my target by like 10 yards on the range. That doesn’t look like a good shot. But on the golf course it’s a good shot, when you’re playing a tournament, y’know what I mean? You can almost try to get too precise when you’re on the range.”

Lowry has also experienced the same sensation as every other golfer — that a good range session doesn’t always translate to the course. I liked the way he articulated this bit:

“I’ve had some of the best warmups in my whole career and gone out and shot 75. And I’ve been the other way; I’ve hit the ball really badly, and it’s almost like the other way around. When things are not feeling that great, it kind of focuses you in more to go out and just try and shoot the best score you can. Whereas when you’re feeling great and hitting the ball well, I almost feel like you got like a little complacent or something.”

8. His favorite part of pro golf? It’s the anticipation

Most pros have favorite tournament weeks. Lowry? He has favorite practice weeks.

“The week before the Masters is like, my favorite week of the year,” he says. “Because I’m home in Florida, I always go up on the Monday-Tuesday before, spend two days there. I come back to my house in Florida. I just practice every day, in bed early every night, taking it easy, I love it. And then the week before the Open as well, I’m in Ireland and I go and I play golf around Ireland with my friends.”

Presumably that’s where Lowry is now, enjoying his week, soaking in the excitement of what could still come as he celebrates the fifth anniversary of his Open Championship win at Royal Portrush.

“When you’re on the flight on the way to a tournament, that’s it. Like I always say that’s why we do — that’s why we play golf.”

9. If he wants to hit a shot, he’ll picture it in his head

How do you hit a specific shot shape and trajectory? As Lowry alternates low and high balls with his 3-iron, he explains.

“We do it so much, we do it every day, it just becomes instinctive. I’ll try and explain this to my friends as well, guys who are good golfers, and I’ve got this one friend, I won’t name him, but he doesn’t hit the ball very high and all I try to get him to do is, like, look in the window, look higher and you’ll start to think higher and naturally he’ll just do everything to try and hit it higher.

“But he won’t listen to me.”

Lowry went on to explain the difference between a poor tournament mindset, where he’s trying to swing the club, versus a positive mindset in which he’s trying to hit the shots and play golf. Trust yourself and your instincts, in other words. Especially if you have the instincts of Shane Lowry.

10. He loves a Diet Coke

I point out that some golf fans have a caricaturish impression of him, believing that he’d be finishing each round and heading for a few pints of Guinness. How accurate is that?

“I wouldn’t say it’s very accurate at all, but yeah, I’ll let people think what they think,” he says. “I do love having a good time with my friends when I get the chance, but you don’t get that much of a chance anymore. I’m married with two kids now and they take up more of my time.

“But one of my favorite things to do is to sit there and have a Diet Coke. People think I love drinking so much, and don’t get me wrong, I like having a drink. But sitting back, having a Diet Coke, I’m a pretty happy man. Diet Coke in the evenings and a coffee in the mornings and I’m pretty happy.”

There’s a good place to leave it; even if you can’t swing it like Shane, you can borrow some of his satisfaction for the simple joys of life. Coffee in the morning, Diet Coke in the evening, occasional drink with a friend? They do say golf is a game of balance.

I hope you watch the entire video below or on YouTube here.

Dylan Dethier

Dylan Dethier

Golf.com Editor

Dylan Dethier is a senior writer for GOLF Magazine/GOLF.com. The Williamstown, Mass. native joined GOLF in 2017 after two years scuffling on the mini-tours. Dethier is a graduate of Williams College, where he majored in English, and he’s the author of 18 in America, which details the year he spent as an 18-year-old living from his car and playing a round of golf in every state.

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