Studies show that range balls often travel shorter distances than a fresh ball out of the sleeve, but that doesn’t mean your students shouldn’t practice distance control on the range
After being hit several hundred times golf balls lose dimple structure, impacting spin and flight. No balls are a greater risk of this decline than those at golf ranges. In its June 2014 issue, Golf Digestreleased findings of a study that concluded that range balls had such a wide variance in distance that golfers should “forget practicing distance control on the range,” and “focus on shot shape and direction.”
However there are few ways that will allow your students to work on distance control regardless of the ball’s condition.
Breakdown practice into the four distance segments
a) Inside 100 yards – Hit wedge shots
b) Between 120 to 150 yards – This is where you just want your student to concentrate on hitting the green, perhaps with a 9, 8 or 7 iron.
c) 150 to 190 yards – These are the often hard-to-hit mid and long irons (6, 5 and 4). Tell your students to look for good height on these shots.
d) 200-plus yards – From fairway wood to driver have your students concentrate on the direction and feel of the strike.
Making it Simple
By giving your students these four distance segments they can achieve a very valuable practice session, irrespective of ball quality. Essentially, this breaks the game down into simple segments. This easy approach can also help golfers on the course, because it’s a straightforward way to view the game and sets realistic expectations.
1. Scoring – Inside of 100 yards
2. Hitting Greens – Inside of 150 yards
3. Hitting Manageable Shots – 150 to 190 yards
4. Driver and Fairway Woods – Control off the tee sets you up for a solid hole and a solid round.
Segment practicing is also a great way to really find out which part of your student’s game needs work. Have them hit five balls per segment (say with a lob wedge, 9 iron, 6 iron and fairway wood). See how well they do in each segment. Then have them concentrate and hit 20 balls on their weakest performing part.
Translating to the Course
When your students go out on the course talk to them about adjusting in the following manner.
Hit one less club than on the range i.e. Take an 8 iron as opposed to a 7 iron for their 150-yard shot. That is taking into account that there is probably one club difference between a well-traveled range ball and a new ball out of the sleeve.