When I was back in high school I used to do the same thing before every tournament. It was my pre-round routine if you will. I would stretch, go out on the range and hit about 50 balls to warm up my swing, move to the green where I would spend about ten minutes hitting different types of chips and ten minutes on different types of putts. There are a few reasons why I do the same things before ever round, regardless of whether it’s competitive or recreational and these reasons are what we’re going to talk about today.
Having a pre-round routine doesn’t need to be a complex and elaborate thing. It can take as long or a little time as you need but, regardless, you should focus on being efficient with your time and effective at preparing yourself for the next few hours. Of course each person will have their own unique routine but I’m going to walk you through my methodology as I decided how I wanted to warm up.
Of all the things you choose to do I would recommend above all others that you do some form of stretching. Golf focuses on repetitive motions and if your body is cold and you decide to start taking full swings at the range you’re asking for trouble. Stretching doesn’t need to be extremely through but it does need to warm up your body, especially the parts you’re going to use repetitively (rotating motions). For me I grab a club and do a few of the following stretches:
- Hold the club at waist level and rotate your shoulders back and forth
- Bend at your waist, let the club hang down, and rotate your shoulders and spine from side to side
- Hold the club above your head and stretch your obliques on each side by leaning left and right
- Put the club behind you head and use it to stretch our your chest muscles
This is by no means the only way or even the right way but it is a simple method I use to stretch out before my round. After I’ve stretched I’ll take a few full swings at a moderate tempo to warm up the muscles in my swing before I start swinging 100%.
Next I like to head to the range and hit around 40-50 balls. I make sure to use every club I have that day starting with the wedges and working my way up to the driver (I think wedge swings are less aggressive than my driver so it’s a nice warm up). At the range I pay special attention to my footing as well as the condition of the ground that day. Is it really hard to take divots because it’s dry or are you sinking into the ground because it’s wet? I like to be prepared for the conditions before I step out onto the first tee and the driving range plays a big part in that area of preparation.
Then I head to the green for some chipping and putting. Both of these accomplish almost the same thing for my preparation. They help me get an idea for how the greens are going to react and they also give me a chance to get my “feel” back which is especially important if I haven’t played in a little while. I don’t want to go out on the first green with a chance at par and rocket the ball way past the hole so I focus on refining my stroke for that day on the practice green before hand.
Now all of this might take me 30 minutes to complete from start to finish but we’re not always lucky enough to have that extra time. If you’re running short on time you can abbreviate a large amount of this preparation in order to fit your time constrains. A lot of the stretching can be done while you wait at the first tee and you can get a sense of the conditions by walking around the first tee or even as you walk (or ride) to your next shot. Chipping can be reduced to taking a few shots at the tee markers next to you while you wait for the rest of your group to get situated. It might not seem like much but it’ll help you hone your touch quickly and it’s especially useful if you have to wait for another group ahead of you. One thing I would suggest keeping is hitting a few putts on the green. Even if you only have time to throw out 3-4 balls and take a couple putts, it will give you an idea for how the ball is going to react on the green that day. This abridged version can be shrunk down to a brisk 5-10 minutes on the tee or as you start out on the course. Not as painful as the 30 minutes at the practice facilities before hand.
Is all of this even important though? In my opinion, a pre-round routine is important not only for the physical aspects of golf but also the mental side of your game. When I played competitive tournaments regularly I found a sort of tranquility by always doing the same thing. It didn’t matter what the weather was like or how high the stakes were, I was in control of my game and that was, for me, the most important part of a pre-round routine. Golf is an amazing game and momentum is a big part of your morale. Why not start the game out at your very best instead of wasting the first few holes warming up? Just some food for thought but until next time golfers, start controlling your round from the very second you step out of the car.
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