Top 10 Best Driving Range Tips For Beginners

Written by Michael VanDerLaan 


The driving range is the place where most people get introduced to the game of golf and begin their golf journey. The freedom of being able to hit ball after ball without consequences is a huge advantage when trying to learn the game for the first time. It can also be detrimental to your game if you don’t practice in the right way. In this article we will take a look at the key things you should be doing at the range.

The best way to get better at golf, without lessons is to spend time at the driving range working on your swing.

10 Best Driving Range Tips For Beginners

1. Warm Up

Warming Up On The Driving Range

Golf Gear Advisor staff member Michael VanDerLaan warming up on the driving range.

Always warm up when you get to the driving range.

This can include some light stretching and loosening up without hitting a golf ball or holding a club, but there’s no need to over-do it or disturb anyone around you.

A great way to warm up is to use a training aid like the Orange Whip. After that, just take some practice swings and feel loose.

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The other part of warming up is to hit a half dozen balls while NOT working on anything or caring about anything other than feeling the body move and get loose.

Take another 10-15 balls and use them STRICTLY as warm-up shots: swinging easy and just letting the body get in a rhythm before you start trying to work on mechanics or pay attention to the shot quality.

A quality warm up session should always be a part of your practice routine.

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2. Use A Proper Grip

How to Hold a Golf Club

The proper golf grip is the most important thing for a beginner to learn, as the old adage says “it is our connection to the club.” There are only a few styles of successful golf grips. The best thing to do is to pick one early on and just commit to it, and trust that it will be more comfortable the more you stick to it.

Two of the best pieces of advice on the grip come from Sam Snead. His father told him, after showing him how to grip the club for the first time, to NEVER change that grip. The other piece of advice is regarding grip pressure. Sam Snead famously said that he gripped the club as if he were holding a baby bird, one of the most oft-repeated pieces of advice in golf lore, as many beginners grip the club too tightly, especially when they get nervous or anxious about a shot.

3. Set Up A Practice Station

Practice Station On The Driving Range

If you go to a PGA Tour event driving range you will often see some degree of a station set up while players are practicing and warming up. A practice station could be as simple as a single alignment stick - or driveway marker - placed on the ground to help aim, set up, or give a visual guide for an in-to-out swing direction.

This will also allow you to see the direction of your divot in relation to your target. Your divot can tell you a lot about your swing.

You can also drive alignment sticks into the ground at an angle matching your club shaft at address, either behind your golf ball or in front of it, slightly offset from the line-of-play in either direction, and practice swinging over or under them to make corrections to your swing plane.

This is super effective, but swing very softly and do half swings until you get really good at this because you can hit one of the sticks and damage your clubs, yourself, or a nearby golfer!

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4. Start With Your Shortest Clubs

Starting With The Shortest Clubs On The Driving Range

One of the biggest mistakes a beginner can make is going to the driving range and immediately pulling out their driver, or hitting 1 or 2 balls and then going for the driver. The driver is the hardest club to hit and almost every good player will progress slowly towards hitting it throughout their practice or warm-up routine. After all it is just a bigger version of the same swing used for the other clubs.

One of the most basic driving range tips is to start with a pitching wedge and get a feel for good contact on pitches and half swings, and then slowly work your way up to full swings and the longer clubs as your brain and body get a feel for the low point and release patterns needed for a quality strike.

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5. Develop And Use A Pre Shot Routine On Every Shot

Developing a Pre Shot Routine

This is one of the most important golf tips you can learn. It’s no surprise that the most famous pre-shot routine in golf history belongs to the most famous golfer in history: Tiger Woods. There are countless videos, articles, and breakdowns of Tiger’s routine and the nuance involved. Many have also timed his routine and seen it to vary less than a half second on most of his shots over the course of a season.

Here is a good video from the PGA of America on Tiger Woods’ pre-shot routine.

The theme here is: organization and consistency. Also remember the adage “practice how you play.” One of the biggest mistakes that amateurs make is going to the driving range and “raking balls” or “banging balls” repeatedly hitting one golf ball after another without moving.

One of the dead giveaways is you will hit an entire bucket of 50-100 balls in 20-30 minutes or less, when it should take 30-60 minutes or more to hit that many balls. How the best players practice is by stepping away from their stance, mentally resetting, and “walking into” each shot just like they would on the golf course. The pre-shot routine shouldn’t be long - Tiger’s was about 11 seconds in his prime.

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6. Always Hit To A Target On The Driving Range

Picking A Target On The Driving Range

Another place that amateurs get into trouble on the driving range and sabotage their chances of having an effective practice session is that they just aim to a general area instead of a specific target.

Jim Furyk, one of the most accurate ball strikers of all time, has highlighted this as his #1 piece of advice for golfers learning the game. It’s very important to train yourself to always be working towards a target. It also lends a sense of accountability to your practice as you can really see how far off-line your shots are. The old saying “aim small, miss small” should apply even more so in practice than it does on the golf course.

Get in the habot of setting down alignment sticks on your target line and practice hitting to that target.

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7. Make Each Shot Count

 Driving Range Practice Plan

Along the lines of #5 and #6 the general principle is that most beginners practice very inefficiently and waste a lot of time and a lot of balls by not being organized, level-headed, and objective during their practice time.

After you’re done warming up, make the most out of each ball in the bucket. One great way to do this is to “play games” on the driving range during practice.

Give yourself a goal or a challenge, such as hitting 4 of the next 5 iron shots within a 20-yard window of your flag.

Or pick out two markers and make an imaginary fairway and keep track of how many you can land there with your driver.

You can even give yourself a challenge like “I’m not going home until I hit 6 out of 10 fairways” and simulate a little bit of psychological pressure when you’ve hit 5 out of 9 and are standing over that 10th golf ball!

One of the most important things that can help any golfer maximize their time at the range is to make a practice plan. Check out the example we have above to see what a seriously good practice plan looks like!

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8. Use All Of Your Clubs

Using All Golf Clubs On The Driving Range

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One of the best “rules” in golf is to never try a shot on the golf course that you haven’t confirmed you can pull off in practice. It doesn’t matter if that’s the shot you need for a given situation If you don’t have it, you have to make due with something else.

That said, if you’re going to carry 14 clubs in your bag, you should absolutely learn how to hit all of them. If you have a 3-wood or a driving iron and you don’t use it because you know you can’t hit it - leave it at home! Then you can manage your practice time by working on your weaknesses more often while simply keeping your strengths sharp.

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9. Only Work On One Thing At A Time

Working On One Thing At A Time On The Driving Range

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This is one of the most underrated tips for practicing, in my opinion.

Especially when you're just starting, it can seem like there are dozens of aspects to each swing and dozens of swings needed to simply make contact and finish a round of golf. It becomes mentally overwhelming and one thing most golfers underestimate is how hard it is to swing a club when the brain is thinking about ANYTHING, including how to swing the club!

For this reason, you should segment your time on the range. These could be any aspects you or your coach want to highlight, but for example: if you have 100 golf balls, hit 20 shots to warm up, 20 shots just working on low point, 20 shots just working on target line (face control), 20 shots just working on curvature (swing path or face to path ratio) and then 20 shots where you turn your brain off, just pick a target and let yourself naturally react to it, and trust that the individual segments will blend in over time.

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It is very difficult but it is very important to completely tune out anything but the result you are working on for that particular shot. For example if you are working on low point, and hit one flush, but it hooks or slices, just ignore that, as you’ve accomplished your goal of having a good low point and that’s all that matters for that segment of your practice. Wait until the end of the practice session to see how the parts integrate.

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10. Finish By “Playing A Couple Of Holes”

Playing a Couple Holes On The Driving Range

Perhaps the best way to bring together #7, #8, and #9 on this list is to finish your range time by “playing a course in your head.” This could be your home course or favorite course or any golf course where you can remember a few of the holes. The key here is you will get a feel for the actual rhythm of a round of golf and be able to simulate that in your practice.

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Hit your tee shot, and then estimate what your next shot would look like, and rotate between clubs every shot as you work your way through the course. This is known as “random practice” as opposed to “block practice” (i.e. hitting 20 7-irons in a row at the same target). Both are essential but this type of practice will be much more revealing and rewarding to confirm that what you’ve worked on is ready for the course.

You can also keep score and turn it into a game. Since we aren’t putting here, you could simply see how far you can make it through your favorite golf course (in your head) before you run out of your last 20 golf balls, and work towards one day finishing a full 9 holes in just 20 (or less!) tee-to-green shots!

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Final Thoughts

Moe Norman used to wax poetic about how “the longest walk in golf is from the practice tee to the first tee.” He said “it could be 10 yards and it’s still the longest walk on the course.” This couldn’t be more true and you won’t have to spend much time in the golf game before you hear somebody lamenting how good they were hitting it on the range compared to how bad they were playing on the course.

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By using the tips in this article to build routines culminating in “practicing how you play” you will give yourself the best chance of managing practice time in a way that will actually translate to more success on the course.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What Should A Beginner Do At The Driving Range?

The best thing a beginner can do at the driving range is to have a plan and to organize their range session. This will avoid the destructive loop that many beginners get stuck in of just “banging balls” into an open field and constantly adjusting random parts of their swing with no guidance or feedback.

This plan should include gradually building from smaller swings and shorter clubs to bigger swings and longer clubs, as well as segmenting your practice between warming up, block practice, and random practice.

Go in with a plan of what you are going to work on, and deliberately execute that plan and then re-evaluate between practice sessions to prioritize what to work on next time.

One great way to maximize your time is to use a training grip. We love the Lamkin Golf Training Grip for nailing down your fundamentals.

How often should I go to the driving range as a beginner?

The simple answer is “as often as possible” or “as often as you can without injuring yourself.”

If you are practicing correctly, practicing almost every day can be very easy on the body. This means warming up properly, working in a lot of shorter and slower swings to begin with, taking time between shots to pick your target and go through your routine, and dedicating time both to doing swing drills and working on individual parts of the swing as well as just letting the segments blend while naturally reacting to visual targets as you would if you were on the course.

If you can’t make it to the range at least once a week, it’s going to be difficult to actually make significant swing changes so you may be better off working on short game or course management. In order to effectively make swing changes as an adult, many coaches recommend hitting golf balls at least 2-3 times per week.

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What order do you hit clubs at the driving range?

With very few exceptions (Brandt Snedeker is one, but he is also not famous for his ball striking), you will see good players progressively work from shorter clubs to longer clubs in a range session.

It might be common to use every-other-club (i.e. just do odd numbered clubs one day and even numbered clubs the next day), but it’s usually best to work from wedges, through the irons, and finish with your woods and driver. This is especially effective if you are warming up before a round, as you will want the last swing you take to be the same as the first swing you make on the course, which is usually a driver.

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Should you use a tee at the driving range?

You should absolutely use a tee at the driving range. Using a tee with the driver is basically mandatory, as hitting a driver “off the deck” without a tee is something that only the best players can pull off, and even then only if the lie is in their favor.

Something overlooked however is the advantage of using a tee with your other clubs, as well. Especially while beginning or working on new swing feels. This might sound or look amateurish, but actually a lot of professionals regularly use tees when they are practicing or doing drills.

It is highly recommended to try iron shots off of a tee as often as possible for beginners until that becomes easy, and then move to hitting off of the ground. Even though we don’t play this way on the course (except for par 3 tee shots) a lot of beginners make the mistake of trying to learn the game while hitting off of very bad lies at well-worn driving ranges and frustrate themselves needlessly by unknowingly making good contact very difficult.

A tee can remove this variable while we focus on the swing, and then slowly let contact get more and more precise and move to hitting golf balls off of the ground as the swing becomes more automatic.

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Michael VanDerLaan

Michael is an Associate Editor here at Golf Gear Advisor. He is a playing professional with a passion for finding the best equipment through product testing and evaluation. He has an intimate knowledge of the golf swing and a very effective way of communicating his knowledge to those that are interested in learning more. As an Associate Editor at Golf Gear Advisor, Michael shares his knowledge about the golf swing, fitness and finding the right equipment for your game.

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