Posted on: 15 May

Like lots of other golfers enjoying the great game you can rightly ask the question:

“Why do we practice?”

And to give you an honest answer to that, I would probably say it’s because golf is such a terrific game and we all want to play better and score better.
It’s no secret that too many of us can and do, hit the ball well on the range but when we get out onto the course our new-found expertise seems to disappear. And we touring pros are no different!

So why does this happen?

There are a number of factors that contribute to this phenomenon – but in my opinion it most commonly has to do with what I call a lack of consequences. Hitting balls on the range can easily lull you into thinking that you are hitting the ball well, as it is easy to dismiss a bad shot and simply hit another.

But are you really hitting it well?

It’s hard, I know, but you need to be honest with yourself when practicing.
As golfing great Tiger Woods once said: “Achieving trust is always the final step with a change. That’s the hardest thing, taking Ranger Rick to the course.”

We often practice mindlessly. How many of you have grabbed a large bucket of balls and then proceeded to blast away with little thought given to anything other than trying to create the perfect swing or hit the perfect shot?

The perfect 7 iron shot we all strive for on the range may never be required on the course. There are so many variables on the course; sandy lies, uphill/downhill/side hill lies, wind blowing from one direction or another. On the course you may be required to fade a shot around a tree, or hit a 9 iron shot almost along the ground to avoid overhanging branches. How often do you practice those shots?

It is obviously very important that you work hard to have a fundamentally sound swing you can repeat time after time. But it is equally important to have a swing you can adapt to the myriad of variables that present themselves to you when playing a round of golf.

To help you build up your shot shaping skills and to help you develop a range of “go to” shots that you can use on the course try this drill the next time you’re on the range.

Firstly, divide your range balls into 4 groups of 10 balls. I recommend using an 8 iron and 5 iron to do this drill.

Now hit 5 shots of each type and keep your score – remembering to always aim at the designated target:
1 – Draw
2 – Fade
3 – Low runner
4 – Punch shot at 75% power

8 Iron Shot 1 Shot 2 Shot 3 Shot 4 Shot 5
Low Runner          
Punch shot          
5 Iron Shot 1 Shot 2 Shot 3 Shot 4 Shot 5
Low Runner          
Punch shot          


Give yourself a score out of 5. It’s important that you make this a part of your regular practice sessions. ** I must stress that in doing this you must be honest in your assessment.

Shot shaping and ball control is important for players of all abilities – high and low handicappers – and with some simple adjustments you will be able to play all of those tricky shots that we face while on the course.

For help with understanding your shot shaping skills, book a lesson with me at

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