As much as I hate to admit it, summer is over and the days are getting shorter. For someone such as myself, this is devastating news. Summer is my time to shine. Get done with my work obligations around mid afternoon and then I’ve still got 4-6 hours of daylight for golf, taking the dog fishing, running, or whatever kind of wild hair I might get. Pretty soon it’s going to be dark by 5:30, leaving me at most 2-3 hours of Brian time. Luckily I live in Central Texas, so out of 365 days I can safely bet 250 of those will probably be suitable for golf. So, for those shorter days, I turn to the often overlooked and highly undervalued range session.
Good range time is so much more than mindlessly rapid firing balls until you soak through your shirt. Sure, our ADHD-addled brains easily default to that because it’s easy to forget why you came out there and turn it instead into an attempt to break your fastest bucket time. But a well-used practice range can not only relax and fill those last couple evening hours but also keep you sharp through the offseason and have you hitting the ground running come Masters week.
Next time you’re out on the range, pick a good steady playlist to keep you in rhythm and stave off the temptation to turn the last 1/3 of the bucket into a two minute drill. I like Willie’s Red Headed Stranger album, but anything acoustic heavy or moderate tempo will suffice. If I’m really grinding, I’ll switch over to Yeezy’s Graduation – genre isn’t really an issue.
Another way to really make good use of the practice range is to break out the Sunday bag. This means taking about half the clubs you play with, preferably a 7/8 iron, two wedges, and a putter. Emphasizing the approach clubs and leaving the big dog at home are so much more beneficial than buying a large bucket and trying to fly the back net. Approach clubs keep your swing grooved, and this in turn will carry over to the woods, the easiest clubs to recover from time off.
Happy hour should always extend to the range. What better way to take that pleasant fall evening to the next level than with a beer or two? For me, two is just enough to take the edge off and loosen up my swing to its full potential. Snag some buddies, snag some brews, and make some closest to the pin bets for some more brews.
If you are going to make swing changes, change the full swing. Fall is not the ideal time to be tweaking and reconstructing a swing, but if you’re going to commit to it, don’t fall into the trap of spending so much time making sure your backswing is properly set that you forget there’s an entire downswing as well. Any swing change should be a total renovation and should focus on contact and follow through, which the backswing has little to do with.
Soon enough we’ll all be talking about our last round and bragging about how much lower that handicap will be come summer. But until then, spend this upcoming fall relaxing and practicing at your local range – it’s an under appreciated gem. See you on the tee..
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