7 Biggest Golf Practice Mistakes

In this video, PGA Professional Alex Elliott talks us through some common errors made by golfers at the driving range

Biggest Golf Practice Mistakes

In this video, PGA Professional Alex Elliott talks us through some common errors made by golfers at the driving range

7 Biggest Golf Practice Mistakes

As golfers we all enjoy regularly practising down the driving range but some of the things we do can actually be harmful to our games.

Practice is so key to playing good golf on the course, so with that in mind we asked PGA Professional Alex Elliott to come up with the 7 biggest golf practice mistakes he sees...

7) Videoing your swing

Make sure that when you video your swing you use the correct angles otherwise it will make your swing look different.

Directly face-on is a good angle to film from but make sure you're filming from straight-on otherwise aspects like your ball position will look different to what they actually are.

This would then lead you to begin tinkering with and critiquing things in your game that don't need touching.

From a behind and down-the-line view, you want to keep the camera at around waist height.

It's also worth buying a tripod if you are someone who films their swing often as they're relatively inexpensive and do offer consistent heights and extra stability.

6) Warming up

On your first 5-10 balls on the range, don't expect them to be perfect shots.

Detach yourself from the shots completely and simply hit the balls without worrying where they're going.

These warm-up balls just help you get loose and help your body get used to hitting balls before you begin worrying about your swing or doing training drills.

This also helps you avoid ingraining in any faults and a negative attitude towards your swing at the range.

Related: 12 stupid mistakes every golfer makes

5) Alignment

Always practice with alignment sticks or clubs laid down to help you get square.

Many golfers make the mistake of not aiming anywhere at the range and this leads to very bad faults.

For example, someone may think they're hitting draws on the range but their feet may be aiming miles right so they're actually hitting pull-hooks.

Alex Elliott recommends using three alignment sticks - one in front of the ball in the direction of target, one for your feet to be parallel to the target line and one just inside of that.

4) Don't stick to the same club

A lot of golfers will hit their driver for most of the range session or their 7 iron if that's their favourite club.

Make sure that you're hitting all of your clubs when practising. Perhaps one week hit your odd-numbered irons and the next week hit your even-numbered.

This won't just help you out on the course but it'll also help with the wear-marks on your irons too.

We don't hit the same club over and over again when playing a round, so don't do it on the range.

Whilst many players will favour one club, many will also avoid one club in particular too.

Whether you hate your 3 wood or can't stand hitting long irons, the range is the time to practise with those clubs.

Alex Elliott recommends practising with your dreaded club or dreaded shot mid-way through your range session once you have warmed up.

Related: 8 biggest golf equipment mistakes

3) Pressure

You can never fully match the pressure you play under on the golf course on the driving range but you can at least go a long way to helping yourself prepare for those situations.

A good driver drill to do is to pick out a fairway on the range and hit 10 balls and note down where each go - tick for hitting it, note down if it was left or right for missed.

You can set a benchmark and then repeat this during each range session to compete against yourself.

Remember to go through your usual routine for every shot - you're trying to re-create scenarios that you'll face on the course after all!

You'll also notice that you've got a stock shot. Do you miss the fairway to the right ever-so-slightly with a fade more often than not? Finding this out on the range will really help you on the course.

2) Machine gun practice

Don't just hit ball after ball at the driving range, you need to take time over shots to replicate the course.

Try a 'Five ball set' where you'll have three balls to hit whilst working on something whilst not worrying too much about where they go, then the final two balls see you change your target and club and go through your full routine to emulate shots you find on the course.

For the final two balls, worry less about swing thoughts with one or two maximum.

You could hit 100 balls in 20 minutes but instead of hitting more, get 50 balls and hit them in the same time you'd hit 100 or even longer.

Related: 25 golfing milestones - how many have you achieved?

1) Last ball syndrome

You've hit 74 good shots and have one ball left - you slice it!

Many a golfer will feel terrible about their game after that and think of that slice on the 1st tee instead of the 74 good shots that proceeded it.

Don't build your last ball up to being anything other than one shot. If you hit a bad one, it doesn't mean you've had a bad range session.

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Elliott Heath is our Senior Staff Writer and has been with Golf Monthly since early 2016. He graduated in Sports Journalism in 2016 and currently manages the Golf Monthly news, courses and travel sections as well as our large Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. Elliott has interviewed some huge names in the golf world including Sergio Garcia, Thomas Bjorn, Bernd Wiesberger and Scotty Cameron as well as a number of professionals on the DP World and PGA Tours. He has also covered the 2022 Masters from Augusta National as well as three Open Championships including at Carnoustie in 2018 when he was inside the ropes with Tiger Woods. He has played 31 of our Top 100 golf courses, with his favourites being both Sunningdales, Woodhall Spa, Old Head and Alwoodley. He currently plays at West Byfleet Golf Club in Surrey, where his handicap index floats anywhere between 4-6. His golfing highlight is making albatross on the 9th hole on the Hotchkin Course at Woodhall Spa, and he has made one hole-in-one.

Elliott is currently playing:

Driver: Honma TR20

3 wood: TaylorMade SIM2 Max

2 iron: Mizuno MP-18 MMC Fli-Hi

Irons: Mizuno MP5 4-PW

Wedges: Cleveland RTX ZipCore 50, 54, 58

Putter: Odyssey White Hot OG #5

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x