36 Shot Challenge

A nice June sunny day for this young man’s practice session.

I spend a lot of my time on the driving range coaching players and working on my own game. It can be a very amusing place to be if you’re lucky enough to catch the guy breaking his club after his 7th hosel rocket in a row. People can get soooo frustrated on the range it makes me wonder how they can ever deal with playing below average games on the course. Their expectations probably need some adjustment, but I can also pretty much guarantee that their practice habits aren’t helping them either.

The Case of 2 Different Golfer

Let’s compare 2 different golfers and see which golfer is doing more for his game?

Golfer 1: Goes to range and puts his alignment stick down while he hits a full bucket of balls to the same target, working on his “feel”. Shows lots of frustration as he hits tops, thins, chunks, you name it. He probably hit 75 balls in 20 minutes. Grabs another bucket, removes his alignment stick, and hits another 75 balls in 20 minutes. He had a nice run of shots in the middle that felt great but other than that most shots are pretty ordinary (although he doesn’t quite see it that way as he is striving for perfection).

Golfer 2: Goes to the range with his bucket of balls and quickly gets into a nice rhythm. He aims square with the blocks and hits ball into space – they bunch up close together and people take a look as they walk by as he seems to be on autopilot. He attracts a lot of the members around him as they often stop to talk and admire his ball striking. He hits his balls in about an hour and feels great that his swing is in its normal place, hitting ball after ball to same area. He leaves the range feeling like a King.

Which Golfer is Getting Better?

Who knows…but neither golfer is really doing anything too productive. Golfer 1 is doing whatever he can to try and see a few good shots in a row until he feels like he “has it”. Golfer 2 looks nice and pretty but isn’t really doing anything to challenge himself or learn. He may be the type of player who hits it great on the range then hooks one left on the first hole and tries to figure out where the hook came from for the next few holes. He’s only comfortable when things are going well. You can do better in your practice. You can practice in away that grabs your attention, challenges you, and improves your ability to hit better shots on the course.

What’s the Game?

36 Shot Challenge:

You are basically playing 18 par 4’s, alternating between tee shots and approach shots (no mulligans).

Shot 1: Tee Shot between two targets (think of field goal posts). If you land it within the posts, you get your point.

Shot 2: Iron to a specific green. If you land on the green, you get a point.

Shot 3: Tee Shot between two different posts.

Shot 4: Iron to a new green or between two targets.

Continue on for 36 shots and record your score (successful shots are within the targets and hit good enough). Each time you play this game write down your score in a book, on your phone, or anything, but make a point to keep track. You can make it harder by narrowing your targets or calling for a specific ball flight (draw, fade, high, low, etc.). It just depends on your skill level. Depending on your driving range you may have to be a little inventive but it’s entirely doable.

One last note: I really love how this game can mimic the up and down nature of a round of golf. If you miss 3 or 4 shots in a row do you get all negative or do you stay positive and keep at it? How do you handle the good times and the bad times during a round of golf? You WILL hit poor shots during this but you’ll have a better opportunity to learn from it and get better.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the game so feel free to drop some comments below.

Play well and have fun,


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