Why is practicing golf so much fun? Don’t laugh! I pose a very serious question to you. So, you really don’t know the answer? Don’t throw the classic Allen Iverson rant at me, because I am, indeed, talking about PRACTICE! Let me explain why I love practice time and you should as well. My passion for the game of golf is not limited to the awe and wonder I feel as I behold the scenic beauty found on many courses, or the amazing, fun-filled camaraderie among friends displayed during a round, or the awesome challenge of playing each and every golf hole to the best of my ability, or even the applause from my own personal gallery when the last putt has dropped and the final tally is registered on the scorecard. No, I can also derive a great deal of satisfaction from simply chipping, putting, and hitting balls at a practice facility without feeling the need the head to the nearest course. This is made possible due to several factors.
At a practice facility, there are no pace of play issues. So, instead of having to practice patience, I need only practice my game. Driving range golf allows me the opportunity to “play” without having to wait for the group ahead to emerge from the woods and clear the fairway or the green. My length of stay at the range is not determined by anyone but me. I can spend twenty minutes with a single bucket of balls or an hour and twenty minutes with multiple buckets. Due to the fact that there is such a significant difference in the total time commitment, I am a tremendous advocate for range time. For those of us who lead very busy lives, the question “to golf or not to golf?” races through our heads quite often. Honestly, the solution is quite clear to me. The reality is that a round of golf can take a big bite out of both one’s day and wallet. To become an active player in this sport without compromising family, work, and other responsibilities and depleting your children’s college fund, I recommend that you consider the inherent advantages of making your investment in golf at the range. I continue to read reports regarding the declining number of participants across the country in all age groups. This trend does not need to continue in its current direction.
At a practice facility, it is extremely easy to develop a great rhythm and maintain it for the duration of my session. No pressure to speed up from the group behind bombarding you constantly with tee shots and inappropriate verbal shots, nor the frustration of coming to a screeching halt due to a twenty four cart pile-up on the seventh fairway, means you can stay in the “groove”. Whether it’s working on wedge play or smooth swinging with fairway metals and the driver, I love every minute in the golfer-friendly environment. Yes, road rage occurs on the course. I relish the chance to set the pace of play while I practice and avoid the dangerous antics of others golfing under the influence of selfishness.
The feeling of hitting shot after shot pure is the highlight of my experience. On the golf course, I strive for excellence. At the range, I have found that I actually can approach perfection. On the course, even in my best rounds, the reality is that I may strike a handful of golf shots which come off perfectly. After one such shot, I have been known to announce, “I can go home now because it cannot get any better than that!” At the driving range that unbelievable “go home” moment is easily repeatable. I know that I can hit the next one just as good or better and so can you. When you practice, I suggest that you use your imagination. Your mind has the incredible capability to create a golf course computer simulation between your ears. “Limitations live only in our minds. But if we use our imaginations, our possibilities become limitless.” -Jamie Paolinetti You can transform the most boring driving range landscape into your favorite course. On occasion, you can approach your practice just like a normal round of golf. Instead of simply pounding the same club over and over again, alternate clubs just as you would be on the links. Play out that round on the course you have programmed in your brain. The level of difficulty is up to your individual creativity. But, nothing should stop you from playing your absolute best. I personally don’t think it is possible to have a bad session at the range. On the course, however, anything can happen. I have both seen and participated in what I refer to as “the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”, a.k.a., Clint Eastwood golf. The moments of agony and ecstasy make golf an incredible game like no other. When I want to completely avoid any possibility of the mental and emotional roller coaster ride that a round can become, I just take my clubs to the range. There I find peace and calm through my routine and repetition. There is no pressure that I place on myself to perform. That in itself may be a reason for my success and consequently my passion for practice. I am never again going to have the time to play 18 holes nearly every day of the week as I did when I worked as an assistant golf professional. So, although I don’t regularly score as low as I used to, my practice is much more productive and fun than ever before. I never used to look at practice in the manner that I currently do. Perhaps, you can alter your view of it as well and embrace the inherent advantages of working on your golf game at the range. These days, I do cherish the few opportunities which arise to join my family, friends, and students on the course. There are times, however, when that actually feels like work. Again, I have concluded that is the case because there are so many factors which are out of my control on the golf course.
I am looking forward to the late summer and beautiful autumn nights when I can practice at the driving range. Hitting balls under the lights is really unique. What a different environment! Watching the little white golf balls pierce the night sky is, frankly, just plain cool! So, what are you waiting for? It is time to play at the range.