As anyone who has read my Blogs or the Awaken Your Inner Golfer book knows, my approach to golf improvement and enjoyment is not about technical or mechanical instruction for a perfect golf swing. My approach is about cultivating the internal and external environment that allows our instinctive kinesthetic intelligence to flow for an effortless and effective golf swing. Now, let’s have a look at how the “Driving Range” fits into the equation.
Does the driving range sometimes ‘drive you crazy’?!? Maybe that’s why they named it a driving range!?! The supposed purpose of the driving range is to practice and improve or to warm up before playing. But either way, the results of using the driving range often seem contrary to the purposes of improvement or preparation for playing well.
The driving range seems to lead to unending frustration, anger, and often self-derision. I believe the reason for this is that we often get caught up in trying to perfect the mechanics of our golf swing on the range. It seems unavoidable. A focus on mechanics brings us up in our conscious mind as we try to control the movements in our golf swing. As I’ve written numerous times, our mind does not control our body or our physical movements. Our non-conscious neural/muscular system performs the movements to meet our intentions based on its experiences and discernment of past successful and unsuccessful swings, movements and outcomes (See the June 2022 Instinctive Golf Blog, The Zone, on this site).
It’s almost inevitable that we get caught up in striving for perfection while ‘practicing’ on the range……unless we develop a specific alternative intention, such as ‘exploration and discovery.’ Can you feel the tension in your mind and your body that the striving for perfection produces? In order to perform our best we need an attitude of acceptance rather than perfection. Can you feel the relaxation in your mind and your body that this perspective provides?
The driving range seems to be more of an obstacle rather than a vehicle for the improvement and enjoyment of our golf game. The driving range seems to produce a lot of contradictions to our intended purpose of improvement or preparation for play. To play our best, our body and mind need to be in a natural state of focused relaxation and awareness. The range often produces the opposite – physical and mental tension. We need to cooperate with our natural state and not contradict it.
A focus on mechanics stifles the imagination. We need to use our imagination to encourage a neural/muscular kinesthetic flow that is natural to our body/mind. We need to use our aptitude of visualization without trying to control the mechanics of our swing. We need to focus on our kinesthetic feelings rather than engaging our mental analysis, criticism and instruction. We need to cultivate our non-conscious kinesthetic awareness. We need to cultivate visualization, curiosity, inquiry, exploration and discovery. We need to cultivate acceptance of our imperfections and unsuccessful outcomes as learning experiences.
Here are some other “contradictions” between what is beneficial to our golf game and what the golf range often produces:
‘Go with the flow’ vs. try to control
Learning vs. trying
Imagination vs. mechanics
Freedom and receptivity
Smooth vs. spastic
Feel vs. mental analysis
Acceptance vs. perfection
vs. tension and rigidity
I believe the driving range could be better utilized, for example in our warm up, by cultivating imagination and actually visualizing some of the holes of the golf course when we hit balls. This would encourage a focus internally so our neural/muscular system has a chance to perform instinctively, rather than involving our conscious mind with a focus on mechanics. During our practice time on the driving range, I think we would benefit from cultivating curiosity, inquiry, exploration and experimentation, to ‘see what might show up’ and ‘see if we might learn something new,’ rather than worrying about our swing mechanics.
When we experiment with what we feel in our body during both our practice and our warm up, we could avoid the trap of mental analysis and criticism. In our practice and our warm up, we can cultivate preparation for something new to show up versus the rigidity and paralysis that striving for perfection produces. I’m not encouraging you to try to find something new in your swing, but to let go of what we think we need to do in our swing. Opening up to the innate wisdom of our body/mind often produces a surprising discovery. I hope you enjoy this more relaxed approach on the driving range and benefit from the body/mind instinctive flow that it encourages. Explore and discover!
Imagination is everything.
It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.