Next time you have the opportunity to attend a pro golf tournament, PGA or LPGA, spend some time at the practice area watching the pros get ready for their round. Most amateurs waste their time on the driving range simply hitting random shots. This may warm up your muscles, but it won't get you mentally focused enough to play your best. And the pros will tell you that good golf is at least 50% mental. If you watch a pro warming up, you will see they make sure they hit a few shots with each club, so they have a feel for each one. Amateurs tend to warm up with just their driver and perhaps one or two irons. You can improve your golf game if you practice like a pro.
Pros also know that accuracy with the putter and wedge(s) is an important determinant of your final score. Watch how a pro hits wedge shots of various lengths, from a 1/4 swing all the way to a full wedge. They always hit practice bunker shots as well. And of course they take time on the putting green to get their stroke fine tuned.
A pro has an objective for each shot on the driving range just like he or she does on the course. They select a target and go through the same pre-swing routine they will use on the course. They want to be as comfortable as possible when they get out there in the heat of competition.
Another tip you can get from watching pros warm up: SLOW DOWN! Their goal is not to hit as many balls as possible, but to get into the proper rhythm. Take time between shots to think and plan the next shot, just as you would on the course.
Use your practice or warm-up time to move your mental focus from the duties and concerns of everyday life and career, to concentrating on the challenge of playing your best golf. The practice range is not the place to make or receive cell phone calls. For one thing, it is discourteous to your fellow players who may be disturbed by the phone ringing. A round of golf is supposed to be a respite from our hectic lives, a chance to immerse ourselves in the natural beauty of the course, the interesting design of the course, and the challenge of making the most of our athletic ability. Make sure you give yourself the best chance to succeed by making your practice time count.
Professional golfers who have finished their competitive round for the day often return to the practice range to work on some of the flaws in their swing they noticed during the round, while the day's shots are still fresh in their mind. This requires extra time of course, but you can improve your golf game if you try this technique.
Brian Hill is the author of several nonfiction books and the novel, Over Time - Love, money and football: all the important things in life. He's an avid grill master. Find his grilling tips, techniques, recipes, and menus.