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The Best Warm-Up Routine For a Round of Golf

golf tournament

We’ve all done it at least once…bolted from the office to the golf course, grabbed our golf bag and made it to the tee box minutes before our group is called. What was the result? Did you have a great round of golf? Did you spray it everywhere the first few holes? Did you enjoy the round or never get into a groove?

I began thinking about this topic the other day when I saw a post on Reddit r/golf asking, “How many balls do you hit before a round?” We all have our individual approaches to warming up pre-round and sometimes circumstances dictate it, i.e. the dash from the office to the tee box. Depending on your skill level, novice, weekend golfer, amateur or pro, your routine will vary. I am reasonably sure a professional golfer hits more balls in a month than I do in a year. As an example, here is a short YouTube video of Justin Thomas practice routine .

At the Course

When I have the time, I enjoy arriving at the course early, having a bite to eat and then hitting the range to get loose. My normal warm-up routine consists of getting a small bucket or bag of balls and then the following:

  • Swinging a club and stretching to loosen up the back. Then making a few empty swings (no ball) to get the feel of the golf club and the impact
  • Then I grab a 7-iron and hit around 10 balls to get the feel of the swing, feel the impact of the ball and focus in on my backswing and follow-thru
  • Hit a few 9-irons or pitching wedges to get the short game feel
  • Pull out the driver and hit a few drives. Depending on how I’m feeling (and how well I’m hitting them) will determine how many I hit
  • I’ll usually hit just a few with a three-wood to get the feel of that club also
  • Then it’s off to the putting green where I’ll practice up until a few minutes prior to teeing off

One thing I have learned over the years is do not hit too many balls before teeing off. I try to keep it to no more than 20 to 25 maximum. How do the professional golfers do it? Check out these video’s of the warm-up routines of some well known golfers:

At the Driving Range

When I go to the range to practice, I start with a similar approach. I will stretch to get the back loose and then I will swing a club a few times with no ball to get the feel of the club impacting the ground. Then I grab my 7-iron or 8-iron and start loosening up. The one difference at the range is I do not hit as many balls to get loose as I do before a round. I will usually get into my practice routine quicker or hit the 7-iron longer to work on my backswing and follow-through.

To keep things interesting while practicing I will focus on different activities. I aim at targets on the range like buckets, tires, distance poles, dirt spots and try to hit them. With a driver or fairway wood, I will pick out two items in the distance to represent the edges of the fairway and try to keep the ball inside them. Alternatively, I will practice similar to how I would hit clubs during a round. It is easy to get in a groove when you hit the same club 10 times in a row. However, that is not how you play is it? Try the following:

  • Imagine a par 5 in your head. Now grab your driver and hit a drive
  • For your second shot (depending on your drive) grab a fairway wood or iron and hit
  • Now grab a short iron for your approach shot
  • Rinse and repeat for a while

That does not feel as comfortable as hitting your driver 12 times in row does it?

Do you practice your chipping when you are at the range? Or your bunker game? I always like to hold out a dozen range balls to hit on the chipping green. I will usually hit 3 to 4 dozen chips using a variety of wedges and shot types. This is where I learned to hit a flop shot with confidence. If your range has a practice bunker, throw the balls into the bunker and practice a couple of rounds of bunker shots. You will be amazed at what that will do for your confidence on the course.

What about golf training aids or swing trainers? I’ll use an alignment stick to practice getting better aligned to my target. Occasionally, I’ll use my mobile phone to take video of my backswing. If you have never had your swing recorded it can be very enlightening. It will really point out the flaws in your backswing, your swing plane, etc. There are lots of great golf accessories out there you can use to improve your practice sessions.

Practicing With Friends

Golf is social. It is always more fun to practice with someone else. You can talk a little trash talk, make a few small wagers and generally not feel like your practicing. It becomes a social activity and not work.

If I am at the range with a friend, we will play a target game. We take turns picking out a club to hit and a target to aim at. Then we will each hit two balls to see who is closest to the target. Then we go to the putting green and do the same, 3 putts each at a hole, taking turns picking the hole and distance. We keep a running score to see who wins at the end of the game. The loser buys the drinks after practice.

Wrap Up

Regardless of your approach, practice and warming up can help you become more consistent. Even if you just hit 10 to 12 balls and a half dozen putts prior to hitting the tee I bet you will see a difference. Feel free to leave a comment with your favorite golf warm-up or practice routines.

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Play Smart Golf, Focus on the Shot!

When you hear a great golfer talk about their game one of the words you always hear is focus. They were thinking through the shot. They’ll say:

  • I visualized what I wanted to do
  • I went through my normal pre-shot routine
  • I focused on the shot

Today, we will look at two aspects of this, thinking through the shot and playing smart golf.

Thinking Through the Shot

When you step up to a shot, what is going through your head?

  • Ignore the water
  • Don’t hit it in that bunker
  • Don’t over swing
  • Keep your head down

selanee henderson puttingSounds a lot different doesn’t it? Developing a pre-shot routine that you use before every shot keeps you focused on the task at hand. If you watch much golf, you will see that every golfer goes through a consistent set to steps before they step up to address the ball. This is true for their tee shots, their fairway shots, their hazard shots and their putts. If they are interrupted, they step back, reset and begin the routine all over again.

How many times have you been on the tee and you don’t feel right or you get distracted. Rarely do we back off the tee. We all do the same thing, hit it anyway. It is no surprise our results are mixed, more often than not on the negative side (my friends might tell you all my shots are with mixed results, focused or not).


Over time I have tried to develop the same routine for tee shots and fairway shots:

  1. Take an easy swing or two to loosen up the back and get a feel for the lie
  2. Stand behind the ball and think through what I’m trying to do
  3. Identify my point of aim (a tree top, building, or some other landmark)
  4. Address the ball and check my alignment against my point of aim
  5. Take my swing

This helps me focus on the shot at hand and not worry about a million other things. On the green, I do something similar and repeat that routine every time I putt.

Smart Golf

For a long time, when I would walk up to a shot, I would simply grab the club that would get me the longest distance down the fairway: driver, three wood, five iron, etc. I didn’t stop to think about the shot after that one.

golfer

As I progressed in my golf game, I became pretty good at understanding my iron distances, how far I hit each one and the gap between them. I also recognized where my strengths, weaknesses and comfort zones were. I began to realize I was much more confident and consistent if I was 110 to 150 yards from the pin then if I was 70 to 90 yards. That started to affect my club selection. I’m not a big hitter, so if I’m 250 yards out I’m not going to power a 3 wood on the green unless I’ve got a great lie and I catch all of it (and maybe some roll). I am better off hitting a mid-iron to my comfort zone distance and then a short iron on approach. I will consistently be closer to the hole than taking the other approach.

Now, having said all that, do I occasionally grab the three wood and go for it? Or will my buddy hit a driver ‘off the deck’ when he really shouldn’t? Hell yea! Because we are out there to have a good time. When you pull those off you feel like a million dollars! But more often than not, you know how that works out.

Conclusion

Just taking some simple steps like visualizing your shot and having a consistent pre-shot routine can have a visible effect on your game. Think a bit more strategically about the shot you are about to hit and the one to follow. You might be surprised at the results.

Do you have a pre-shot routine you always follow? Feel free to share it with us in the comments section below. Be sure to swing by our store and auction pages before you leave. Pick up some training aids to help with that course alignment, or a GPS or other golf electronics to help with your yardage!