Learn from the Pros: Being a “Range Rat” may not be as effective as you think.
I was inspired to write this article for a couple of reasons. The first of which is that our Driving Range is always far busier than our Putting Greens. This shouldn’t necessarily be the case, I will explain my reason for this later. The second reason is that I want people to improve and I’m a realist who prescribes to the teachings of Mark Broadie’s Every Shot Counts. For those of you who are unaware Broadie worked as a statistician for the PGA Tour and was a part of developing the new Strokes Gained stats. Broadie’s research shows that shots from within 100 yards account for approximately 60 to 65 percent of all shots taken during a round. Even when putts from inside three and half feet are eliminated from this stat the number is still between 41 to 47 percent. Simply put, short shots are vitally important to playing your best.
As a Club Professional one of my goals is to help inform members of how to practice and how to improve. If you’ve taken a lesson with me you’ll notice that I rarely ask you (the student) to hit your driver. In fact, unless the driver gets mentioned I ignore it completely. At this point some of you are probably asking yourselves, “If I stink off the tee why wouldn’t he teach me how to hit my driver?”. Here’s why, knowing that most players struggle off the tee because of poor sequencing, (arms and upper body outracing lower body and hips) I like to focus on short shots. Often I’ll ask that people work on hitting a 30-40 yard shot with their Sand Wedge or Lob Wedge. The reason for this is simple, if my goal is to improve your sequencing all I need you to do is ensure that your belt buckle faces the target at the end of a 30-40 yard pitch. Secondly, I need you to lean the shaft forward at impact on these shots. If you can face the target at the end and hit a 30 yard pitch with a 56 degree wedge that launches at about a 30 degree angle then I’ve fixed your issue with the Driver, 3 Wood, long irons, short irons and most importantly your wedges. “Say what?”, by ensuring that you can sequence a wedge over and over, all you must do now is translate that same feeling through impact to the rest of your clubs. If you need more detail on this come see me.
Moving on, the putting greens and chipping areas should be busier than the driving range. My reason for this simply is “Cameron Tringale”. Cameron is a PGA Tour player, which means he makes his living by getting the ball in the hole better than most people on the planet. He also gets paid for his efforts. To most people’s surprise Cameron rarely practices his long game. His sole focus with most practice sessions is from inside of 120 yards. If more people putted and chipped as much as Cameron Tringale they would definitely improve their scores. Keep in mind, I use the example of Cameron Tringale but I’m sure many players on all the tours spend at least half of their time working on their putting, chipping and wedges.
In conclusion, to improve your scores quickly your focus should be on short shots.