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.
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.