Rick Shiels' Ultimate Driving Range Session

In this video, Golf Monthly Top 50 Coach Rick Shiels walks us through his ultimate 30-minute range session and explains how it can supercharge your game...

Rick Shiels at Prairie Sports Village driving range
(Image credit: Kevin Murray)

A lot of amateur golfers are guilty of hitting balls at the driving range without much thought and calling it 'practice'. The problem is, that rarely translates to improvement on the golf course.

That's why, in the video and article below, Golf Monthly Top 50 Coach Rick Shiels has shared his ultimate 30-minute range session that will help you supercharge your game for the season ahead!

Step 1: The Basics & Technique - 10 minutes

I've broken the session down into three elements that I want you to focus on. The first one focuses on getting the basics right and doing any technical work, both of which are incredibly important as they provide the foundation to build upon.

The Basics

This is one of the things tour players do regularly, yet amateurs often overlook it. Take two long irons out your bag and set them up as I have here, with one pointing a fraction left of target and the other lying across it so it forms a perfect right angle. This is a great alignment aid and creates a checkpoint to ensure your ball position is in the correct place throughout the bag.

Rick Shiels Alignment

Set-up two long irons to create a handy alignment checkpoint

(Image credit: Kevin Murray)

Once you've warmed up, start with a wedge and hit some shots, making sure your feet are parallel to the target line and the ball position is roughly in the middle of your stance. The ball position will move forward incrementally as you work up to the driver.

This drill will allow you to feel what a good set-up position should feel like and ensures bad habits don't creep in. I'd advise hitting 10 shots, making sure to step out and back in each time to really hone the perfect address position.

Rick Shiels Range Session

Work on that perfect address position early in your range session

(Image credit: Getty Images)


Listen, I know this might not be the most exciting part of a practice routine, but if you want to improve, it has to be done. The goal is to get 1% better each time, which will accumulate into long-term progress if you stay committed. 

The first thing to mention here is that it's crucial to make sure you are working on areas relevant to your game and specific faults. If you've never had golf lessons, investing in some time with a PGA pro will help you understand where you can improve.

I'd also recommend getting a stand for your phone to record your swing. These are relatively inexpensive, and will allow you to monitor your progress properly with almost instant feedback.

Rick Shiels Record Golf Swing

Recording your golf swing gives invaluable feedback

(Image credit: Kevin Murray)

Once you've set up your phone or camera, put 100% focus into whatever it is you're working on. Remember, this is the technical segment so it doesn't matter what the ball is doing at this point.

After every couple of shots, check the video to see how close your feel is to what is actually happening. For me, I'm working on my takeaway in the golf swing to get the clubface to match my spine angle. For you, it's may be something different, so check it regularly as 'the feel' and 'the real' are almost always different.

Step 2: Skills Challenges - 10 minutes

It's now time to test your skills. Before you start, consider your strengths and weaknesses and ensure you're not just working on the stuff you're already good at.

Distance control

For me, I struggle from 100 yards and in, so my first game is a distance control challenge. The task here is to hit 10 shots, with each one going gradually further than the one before. You can do this visually at a driving range or if there's a local facility with Toptracer technology, you can set it up to track your distances.

Rick Shiels Range Session Shot

Golf Monthly Top 50 Coach Rick Shiels hitting a shot at the range

(Image credit: Kevin Murray)

For the first shot I've set my minimum carry distance at 25 yards, so I can't just chip it and make it easy. Take a look at the video above to find out how I did.

Ball flight control

The next challenge is all about controlling trajectory. It's an invaluable skill which allows you to tailor your shot choice to the conditions. For example, if there is a strong wind into your face, it's pretty crucial to know how to play the low punch shot.

Rick Shiels hitting a golf shot at Prairie Sports Village driving range

(Image credit: Kevin Murray)

I'm going to start low and work my way up, hopefully hitting each of the 10 shots progressively higher. Again, you can judge this by eye or use Toptracer, which I've got at my disposal here at Prairie Sports Village.

I am using my 7-iron and I've set the minimum carry distance at 100 yards so I can ensure that each effort has a proper ball flight. For the first shot, I've moved the ball back in my stance to keep the peak height down until I'm launching it as high as I can on my 10th and final attempt.

Fairway finder

Then, it's onto the driver, but it's not about swinging for the fences. Instead, for this drill, we're focusing on accuracy. If there are flags laid out, or any other reference points, imagine a fairway and try to land as many of the 10 shots in your target area.

Rick Shiels Driver

Practicing the fairway finder can save your round when you eventually need it on the course

(Image credit: Kevin Murray)

Driving is one a strength of my game but I was feeling the pressure, especially on the final few attempts with a personal best on the line. Those are the types of feelings you want when practising, as they will help you on the course when you need to utilise a particular shot under the pump.

Whatever games or drills you decide to use, keep track of your scores and try to beat your previous benchmark each time. As for my performance, check out the video to see how many fairways I hit.

Step 3: Pressure Practice - 10 minutes

The final game is a head-to-head challenge. This is a great way to finish a range session and creates another layer of pressure as nobody wants to lose in these situations.

Rick Shiels Head-to-Head Challenge

Rick Shiels finishes his practice session with a head-to-head challenge

(Image credit: Kevin Murray)

You can do things like nearest the pin or long drive challenges, or be creative and make up your own. Even head to the practice green for a putting showdown to really round off a comprehensive practice session. You can always make it a bit spicier and add in a forfeit for the loser, but make sure you don't make it too extreme!

Adding these suggestions into your practice will help to give your game a boost and set you up for the best season of your life. It seems obvious, but when you play better you'll also have a lot more fun!

Rick Shiels
Top 50 Coach

After turning professional, Rick worked at The Mere in Knutsford before moving to Trafford Golf Centre. It was here where the PGA professional started to film the majority of his content, and his YouTube channel now has over two million subscribers. As well as offering tips and drills, he's an equipment and golf course fanatic, which sees him create a wonderful variety of content for his growing audience. You can listen to Rick, too, with a new episode dropping every Tuesday on the Rick Shiels Golf Show Podcast.