Do not become a “Professional Range Player”!
I think it might be more beneficial to first talk about what Professional golfers do not do when they are at the range. They do not “machine gun” or “rake and fire”, that is to say, hit ball after ball in rapid succession. You will find many amateurs doing this, and worse, all with the same club, usually a driver (tisk tisk!).
The only time I feel a “rake & fire” trip to the range necessary is during the first few trips to the range after a long layoff period. For most of us that is in the spring when we finally get to trade our snow shovels for our 7 irons. Some degree of repetitiveness is often required in this particular situation so as to regain your strength, timing, and rhythm. This is the time where you risk becoming a Professional Range Player. Once you are back in proper shape and form you need to change the way you practice or you may actually hurt your game on the golf course. This is the exact reason Professional golfers will never “machine gun” at the range.
Each shot you take while playing a round of golf is unique and challanging, so you must treat your practice range session in a similar fashion. Additionally, there is no need to spend more than an hour or so at the range after you have played your first full round of the “season”. After warming up, might I suggest breaking an hour up in the following manner.
7 Iron on up (20:00)
Take full swings with everything in your bag from the 7 iron to your driver, but vary each shot. Select different targets, do not just fire parallel to the section dividers. Also prior to hitting each ball, go through your pre-shot routine just as you would on the course. Finally, try to imagine you are plaing an actual hole, first ball hit with your driver, next with your hybrid, etc. etc.
7 Iron on down (20:00)
Apart from putting, this is the part of your game where you have the potential to save the most strokes from your final score. This is where all that “Back Yard Golf” will come into play. Concentrate on your distances and shot types, check-up shots vs. pitch and run’s. Finally, give yourself challanging lies, don’t put it on a nice tuft of grass (remember, Pro’s play it as it lies).
Try using just two balls, keeping one in your pocket. Imagine you only have that one ball (just as it is on the green during a round) and putt from varying distances and breaks. Use that second ball that is in your pocket to drop only to reinforce a make or a miss. I know you will know when to do that…
Give these suggestions a try and I bet you’ll see an improvement when you are actually on the course!