Although I try my best to ignore what other people are doing on the range, I can’t help but notice on occasion how other people perform their golf warm up before a round. I’ll often notice fellow amateurs sabotaging themselves during their pre-round warm up. I’ve seen clubs thrown, self degrading curses after poor shots, and the ever so popular “this should be an interesting day” comment early in a warm up.
Seriously? It’s a warm up. The name in itself implies that it doesn’t count for anything. It’s only purpose is to get your muscles and body prepared for the task ahead, which is hitting shots on the golf course. It’s not the time to beat yourself up or dwell on mechanics.
Warm ups can also be a great time to rub elbows with celebrities. Check out who Beth and I warmed up next to the last time we played Spyglass Hill back in November. Jerry Rice!
That was probably the coolest warm up we’ve ever had. Jerry was a class act. He took the time to talk to anyone who approached him and posed for photos. He also hits a pretty darn good ball. He gets to the course two hours early to warm up, but of that two hours he probably spends at least half of it attending to fans. I tried to play it cool. I broke the ice by casually saying “What time you teeing off today Jerry?”, while continuing with my normal warm up routine. He looked at me with a slight pause, probably wondering if we had met before because I wasn’t screaming like a schoolgirl like the other grown men at the range. Unfortunately he teed off about a half hour later than us.
I digress. Some amateurs purposely avoid going through a proper warm up fearing that they’ll “waste their good shots”. Nonsense. There is no such thing as wasting a good shot, no matter where it takes place. Good shots breed more good shots.
If you hit it well during your warm up, take confidence from it, but don’t take it for granted and expect that to continue on the course. Keep working for it.
If you don’t hit it well, don’t read too much into it and throw a hissy fit. Remember, it’s called a warm up for a reason. Chalk up bad shots to simply getting the cobwebs out. Some days it takes longer to loosen up your muscles and get in the groove than others, so just assume that you’re on the verge of getting loose and in the groove as you head from the practice tee to the course. The golf course doesn’t care how you hit it on the range. Neither does your golf ball.
I personally like to have a consistent warm up routine. I head to the range first and take some light practice swings followed by a bit of stretching. Then I start hitting half shots with my lob or sand wedge, just trying to get some feel in my hands. Then I’ll progress to full shots and go through my bag hitting every second club and finally my driver. If I’m not hitting my driver off the first tee, I’ll go back to whatever club I’ll be using and finish off with that club. If I’m familiar with the course I’ll try and picture some of the situations I’ll likely be faced with and try execute some shots accordingly as I go through my bag.
If there’s a chipping green, I’ll then hit a few chips to get a feel for how the ball runs out. If there isn’t a place to hit chips, I’ll hit a few chip-like shots on the range and just pick a spot to try and land the ball.
I tweaked my putting routine at the end of last season after reading Dr. Bob Rotella’s book “The Golf of Your Dreams“. I start with some long putts first to get a feel for pace. He suggests not aiming at a particular target for this, but only focus on trying to hit it a certain distance. You can putt towards the fringe, or just draw an imaginary line across the green somewhere. I’m only concerned with pace at this point. I’m not interested in seeing myself miss 30 foot putts right before I head to the course. Then he suggests hitting some short range putts into the hole, I stick to inside 4 feet. This is intended to get my brain accustomed to seeing the ball going in the hole. Then I’m ready to go.
There is no right or wrong warm up routine. I think the most important thing is having a routine that makes you feel confident and ready, whatever that may be. Maybe you’re coming straight from work where some office creatures frustrated you and part of your warm up that day involves crushing a beer to get you relaxed and in the zone. Or maybe you’re hungry and need to grab a snack. I’m not here to judge. Do what you gotta do!
Just remember not to panic if you don’t have time to go through your full routine. There will be days where we just can’t get to the course early enough, and that certainly doesn’t mean you still can’t play well. Try get loose any way you can, even if it’s by doing some stretches while in line to pay at the pro shop. Even try picturing yourself hitting crisp warm up shots.
We get to choose how we think as golfers. If you have time for your regular golf warm up routine, use that to your advantage. If you don’t get your full warm up in, use that to your advantage as well. That’s the time to convince yourself you saved up all your good shots for the course. Knowing when to be in denial and spinning the situation in your favor is a trait of most good golfers.