Local golfers have started descending upon driving ranges to work on fine-tuning their games for the upcoming season.

While many serious golfers have a specific plan of what they want to improve while at the range, others have no idea what they’re doing.

Assistant professional Mike Ross offers a five-point plan to keep hackers on target:

>> 1. Warm up: Weekend golfers love to swing for the fences. “Then they wonder why their back is aching,” he says, noting golfers should stretch their muscles, especially in their back and hamstrings, before hitting a ball.

>> 2. Start small: Don’t grab the big stick and try to pound out long drives right off the hop. Ross notes 99 per cent of professionals start at a wedge and work up to a driver, while 99 per cent of weekend golfers start at the driver and work down.

Start out with your wedge and even take half- or three-quarter swings until you feel comfortable. Then work up through your other clubs in the bag. “People just try to hit it too hard,” Ross says. “It puts them into a bad rhythm before they even get going.”

>> 3. Smooth the swing: Ross warns golfers that trying to pound the ball towards the target isn’t always the best method. Instead, he advises golfers to work on developing a smooth tempo with their swings. “Don’t try to smash it, be smooth,” he says. “The smoother you can keep (your swing), the better off you’re going to play.”

>> 4. Learn to judge your distances: Often golfers don’t even know how far they can hit a specific club once they get out on the course. The range is a great place to hit balls and judge how far, on average, you can hit each club. “People will just hit and they won’t even watch it,” Ross says.

>> 5. Think about taking lessons: Once you develop a slice or a wicked hook, sometimes the only solution is to take lessons from a professional. “If you’re brand-spanking new at the game, I’d highly recommend lessons,” Ross says, noting even experienced players can benefit from professional tips.

First and foremost, professionals will teach beginners such basics as grip, stance, posture and positioning.

So, when heading out to the range with hopes of improving your game, make sure you have a plan. “It can go a long way,” Ross says. “If you’re just going there for the sake of beating balls, then it’s detrimental.”

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