Not mjaber!
"Beating" Balls
By mjaber on 4/19/13
I spend quite a bit of time at the driving range. If you were to see me there, you would look at me and probably say, "This guy is just beating balls. He's not trying to improve." Well, depending on your point of view, you might be right. I'm not trying to learn how to hit the high draw, the low fade, or the punch hook. I'm not trying to dial in my distances, or work a new club into the bag. I'm hitting balls, watching the trajectory, and flight path, and committing it to memory. I'm working on my rhythm and tempo, and making sure my grip is comfortable and solid. There is more to practice than just precision. A baseball player doesn't spend hours in the batting cage just learning how to hit to a certain part of the field. A quarterback doesn't make hundreds of throws just to be able to make one throw. A basketball player will spend hours at the free-throw line. These examples (the hitter, the QB, the free-throw shooter) will spend hours just repeating the same motion. Remember throwing a football through a tire hung from a tree? If you were doing that at the range, you would be doing what I'm doing. One motion, one target, over and over again. Remember going to the batting cages? The pitching machine threw the ball down the middle, you swung. Same, repetitive process, over and over again.

And yet, a number of articles have been published here discounting this practice. Well, I say go to the range and beat balls, if you want to. If I can go through a bucket of balls, making the same swing, and develop a consistent, repetitive swing, flight path, and trajectory, haven't I already won? I now know, when I step up to the ball, whether on the tee, in the fairway, or the rough, that when I make my swing, my ball is going to do the same thing most of the time.

I'm not discounting specific, precision practice. Depending on what you want to get out of the game, it may be necessary. If you want to be a high-level amateur, or even a pro, you need to have all those different shots, and you need that practice to learn how to do them. You will need to spend hours at the range, and many thousands of dollars in lessons. It will need to become your full-time job.

If you are like me, and you want to get better, but not at the expense of your life, family and job, spending an hour or 2 with a bucket of balls, learning how the ball flies when you make your normal swing, is not a bad thing. It's also possible to learn the different shots on your own, I guess, if you've got the desire, and the understanding. I don't. I understand the theory and physics behind the different shot shapes, but I don't have the precise timing and hand-eye coordination necessary to learn them on my own.

For me, being able to get around the course around bogey is great. When I started playing, I played with people who have been playing most of their lives that can't do that. I haven't gotten grouped with many people who play much better than bogey, and they all seem to have a great time. I know I do. So, who's up for a trip to the range to send a bunch of balls out?

This was written by Mike Jaber, a reader/follower/fellow oober and the opinions are 100% his and do not reflect those of oobgolf in anyway. Enjoy! I'm sure he's ready for your feedback.

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Image via Flickr, mastermaq

[ comments ]
bducharm says:
I LOVE practicing! I could spend hours at the range, hitting different shots. However, I feel like I make better improvements when playing. I do most of my practicing on the golf course. I go out after work for 9 holes and hit different shots there. It helps me improve more when I can do that on the course!
Tim Horan says:
I hate the range...nine balls in and I am bored, Bored, BORED. If I develope a fade in normal play I may spend some time on a range pushing that fade to the limit and then working it back to a draw. To go to the range to groove a swing that changes daily is just bunk! I have to be concentrated (that means playing)for anything to work. Sorry Mike it makes no sense to me beating balls.
mjaber says:
@Tim Horan... no need to be sorry. Everybody works things out in their own way. What works for me may not work for everyone. My swing doesn't change much, and hasn't for a while. I don't go nearly as often as I used to, but I still go about once a week, time permitting. At this point, I spend time at the range to get an hour or so of down time, when I don't have time for a round of golf, or the weather hasn't cooperated.
Duke of Hazards says:
i'm with you mike. i'm an admitted ball-beater.
Kurt the Knife says:
I love the range. COnstant surprises. I never know where the ball is gonna go next.
aaronm04 says:
Call me a ball beater. I'll take that as a compliment when I stick that 3/4 shot with my gap wedge to about 3 feet.
GBogey says:
By your definition I'm a huge ball beater - love the range and go often as I find it relaxing and fun and I can find time for the range several times a week and only time to play 18 once or twice at best. Don't like the term ball beater though - brings up an image of the guy who hits ball after ball without thought or purpose. Even though I may hit lots of balls in a short period, I have a purpose to what I am doing.
Finally, I may love the range, but I do usually spend at least have of my balls on partial short game shots - I see too many guys who don't hit even one.
jpjeffery says:
It depends. If I'm hitting tee shots then yes, I quite like the range. But I find it counter-productive for fairway/short-game shots, for which I'd much rather hit off grass.
joe jones says:
There is nothing wrong with being a range rat. Ben Hogan said his secret was in the dirt. Obviously V J Singh benefited greatly by spending constructive hours on the range. His success well into his 40s is proof enough. Now that I have reached advanced years I can no longer beat balls for an extended period of time but hitting one small bucket, one third driver, one third mid iron and one third wedge helps a lot.After playing at this game for over sixty years if I haven't figured out a few things by now I never will.
DougE says:
I'm just glad to hear the picture alongside the article is NOT you Mike. If it were, all the ball beating in the world ain't gonna help. You got much bigger problems! Who IS that guy and why is he dancing with a golf club in his hands? :-)
mmontisano says:
i'm a range rat, definitely. i'm so busy during the week with my kid, making sure he does his homework, and work 12 hour days, that i usually block off about 3 or 4 hours every Sunday to get away from everything, find a corner stall and decompress. i'll usually hit around 350 to 400 balls. i love working on new things, so i enjoy it.
frankteo714 says:
When I'm at the range, I just try to keep my swing consistent. Not try to change anything really or improve it. I like where I'm at and I want to stay there.
legitimatebeef says:
I like to attempt all the different shots, high, low, left, right, etc. I think it helps me to understand what's going on with the clubface. I have always liked the advice that says if you're slicing it, try to exaggerate a hook and vice versa. Besides it is fun to hit the different shapes. I am far from mastering it but it opens up a new dimension of golf when you have some basic idea of how to curve it around trouble. I say give it a try Mikey.
Tim Horan says:
I think that is where I differ from the majority of you guys I do try something different on the range but never really settle in a groove. Then taking this to the course just messes with my game. I find after a dozen balls max that my swing changes, I don't set up right and sure as hell my weight does not transfer correctly I tend to err towards stack and tilt the more balls I hit. It is dicipline that I lack. What I do do quite often is take a bucket of balls into the waste ground behind the house and chip to a target. You cannot take too much notice of what happens on landing but the contact and flight are good indicators.
birdieXris says:
I went to the range this weekend for the first time this season after not being allowed to play on an empty course "because of an outing going off". OK. Anyway, I beat some balls for sure. Just trying to work things out. Some thought, but i just wanted to feel out my swing and see why i'm doing what i'm doing. I hit about 250 balls, + or - a few because everybody knows you don't always get the amount of balls the machine says. :) Still, by doing so, i worked a little bit of the rust off and realized some of the things i've ben doing wrong that have crept in since the swing revamp. It's a good thing to do every now and again. now that i know what's comfortable and what's going on with the swing, i can go back and have a nice leisurely pinpoint range session and start refining again.
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