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Bad at taking your range swing to the golf course? This is 1 big reason why.


This article originally appeared in the Golf IQ newsletter, which is available exclusively for Golf Digest+ members.

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I live in Connecticut, where quite often it’s very cold.

The serious golf psychos, like my fellow GD+ newsletter writer Sam Weinman, will play through the cold winter. But being on the more fair-weather side of the psycho spectrum, I do not. Almost all of my actual winter golf has been done indoors.

Then last weekend, the weather turned, so I spent Easter Sunday playing golf outside. After a winter of working hard on my golf swing, what was I about to come back with?

It's a classic how-do-you-take-your-range-swing-to-the-golf-course question, and one that I've thought about a lot in the 10 years since I moved up north, got a real(ish) job, and my golfing happiness became dependent on having a decent indoor-to-outdoor transition.

Your golf swing gets shorter on the course

I wrote about it here, but at the World Scientific Congress of Golf last year teacher Tim Mahoney presented a study of how golfers' swings changed from the range to the course to the first tee.

He found that once they got to the course, 80 percent of golfers...

• Had less hip turn on the course vs. on the range
• Had less chest turn on the course vs. on the range

Basically, for some combination of physical and mental reasons, golfers' golf swings become shorter, more restricted, and more hands-and-armsy once they get to the golf course.

It happens even to the best players—as Hall-of-Famer Vijay Singh found when he ran a similar experiment on his own golf swing.

You need a specific on-course swing thought

So, why can't you take your range swing to the golf course? Because your golf course swing is different from your range swing. It's shorter.

There's a good chance you need a different, specific, on-course swing thought or feel. Probably something that reminds you to turn more on both sides of the ball; to make a bigger backswing.

[Slow-motion video](/golf-instruction/swing-sequences/2012-12/video-rory-mcilroy-swing-sequence)

I'm neither a coach nor a mind-reader, so I don't want to assign swing thoughts to you. But one that I find consistently working for me is the feeling of stretching my arms really wide on the backswing, which helps me make a bigger backswing turn.

No, it may not be something you or I necessarily need to think about on the driving range, but it may be something you need to get on the golf course, when you’re more nervous and tired than you may realize.

Anyway, it's a small thing that has really helped me make the range-to-course transition. I hit the ball well last weekend! And so did the PGA Tour's most recent winner, Stephan Jaeger, who does does something similar.

"I was like, hey, I just got to feel like John Daly," he said after feeling his on-course swing getting shorter and shorter.

"It definitely helped my swing. I'm in a way better position up top now."

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