Driving Range Games: 3 Ways to Make Golf Practice More Fun
This post was originally published in May 2013 and updated in April 2022.
We all know we should hit the driving range more often.
But the fact remains with busy schedules and rising costs, if given the choice between playing 9 or hitting the range for an hour or two – I’ll almost always head to the course.
For a long time whenever I went to the range it was just this repetitive experience of grabbing a ball, taking no practice swings, and then knocking it out there. I could be 100 feet off of my intended target, but still feel like it was a good shot because it “felt good.”
Obviously this isn’t helping your game at all.
But what if you could make the range not only more fun, but more useful as well?
There are three driving range games I often play that not only have me heading out there more often, but have improved my game considerably since I started.
Driving Range Game #1: HORSE
You remember the children’s basketball game right? Well it’s even more fun as an adult on the driving range.
I was just in NYC last month hitting the range with my friend Dan at Chelsea Piers after our plans to play Bethpage Black were foiled.
You probably know the basic idea, I hit a shot such as “Hit the mound 175 out with a 6 iron – doesn’t have to stick.” If I make it, then the other person has to make the same shot. If not they get a letter.
First person to spell HORSE loses.
The more you play it, the easier it becomes to set an intention and follow through with the specific shot.
It’s fun with two people, but I often play it on my own as well. I’ll hit a shot, and then if I can’t repeat it I get a letter. I try and go through the whole bucket without actually spelling HORSE.
If there’s two of you, you can do this really easily on the practice green as well.
Game #2: Course on a Range
So how do you break the habit of just mindlessly hitting balls? You pretend like you actually have something to lose during each shot. The way I do this is to actually play a round on the range.
I’ll pick a scorecard for a course I know pretty well, and play through it.
This causes me to change my clubs after every shot, which makes me spend more time with each one.
These days, technology has made this particular game even easier. Devices like the Garmin R10 have features built in to allow you to do exactly this, with their Home Tee Hero feature.
After hitting an approach shot I do one of two things, either I’ll ballpark how far away I was from the pin and write it down in my phone, or I’ll give myself a score based on distance. If it’s within 10 feet I get a par, 5 feet birdie, 10-20 bogey, 30+ double.
This works really well if you have a well-maintained driving range, like this one at Crosswater Golf Club:
If I’m writing down my approximate distances, then I’ll go out to the putting green afterward and place balls at each of those distances to finish out the round. This takes a little more time, but it forces you to play each shot as if you were on the course – which is really the goal most of the time, right?
Driving Range Game #3: One Club
When I’m only playing casually one of the biggest problems I face is not being deliberate enough. I’ll go out and bang 100 balls out on the range with a variety of clubs, but when you don’t have a reason for doing so, you aren’t getting much value out of it.
I find I get a lot more value if I spend at least half of any range session hitting a single club. By hitting 50+ balls of the same club, it makes you incredibly aware of what’s working and what isn’t.
I’ll mix up the targets, sometimes try and go longer, or shorter, but ultimately trying to get a good feel for what I can do with any given club. This is the drill that’s got me to the point where I feel *more* comfortable hitting draws and fades. By picking one club and testing out what works and what doesn’t, while also building muscle memory you’re really able to make progress.
Still struggle to make the driving range enjoyable and productive? Check out our overview of the best launch monitors on the market. I’ve found a launch monitor to be the single best way to my practice sessions more fun (and useful).