One day at the range, a student of mine, Brian, mentioned that the range reminded him of a laboratory.
Brian's game was always repeatable at the range but it was a mixed bag once he arrived at the first tee.
As a PGA teaching professional, it’s common for me to hear that the range is nothing like the course. In fact, the definition of a laboratory is 'a facility that provides controlled conditions in which scientific research, experiments, and measurement may be performed.'
I mention this definition because the range is exactly like a laboratory, controlled conditions and all.
There are many factors that make the golf course more challenging than practice areas. From the mental game to having a list of swing thoughts that could fill a billboard, there is much for a golfer to take in.
One overlooked aspect of the game is learning to hit shots from uneven surfaces. The driving ranges we practice on are flat and the golf courses are most certainly not.
To practice your uneven lie shots, here are some suggestions:
• Examine different areas of your driving range. Even though the range tends to be flat, many times there are areas off to side where you can experiment with different lies.
• Practice at the short game/chipping area. Just because it’s not a full swing does not mean practicing this aspect of your game is ineffective. In fact, learning to chip or hit bunker shots off uneven lies can be very helpful in taking your game to the course.
• If possible, drop an extra ball every few holes in a late afternoon round on an uneven lie and hit the shot. As long as you are not holding anyone up, use this an effective way to practice.
Many of the lessons that are taught are about learning how to make your practice time productive.
If you struggle with uneven lies, experiment with some of these suggestions and make the range 'laboratory' more like the course.