One of the biggest differences between recreational players and professionals is the latter’s attention to warming up properly. It’s incredibly common for weekend golfers to show up to the golf course with 15 minutes to spare, check in, hit a couple putts, maybe hit a few balls, and then go to the first tee. This is a big reason why most players need a few holes or even the front nine to feel comfortable. If you want to play better, give the following golf warm up a try and see how much your scores improve.
Giving Yourself Enough Time to Prepare
Even 30 minutes isn’t going to be enough time to ensure that your body is loose and that you have a feel for your touch on and around the green. However, there is also potential trouble if you show up too early and either wear yourself out or spend most of your time at the course lounging around. If you decide to eat before your round at the golf course, give yourself a full 75 minutes after you’ve eaten to warm up; if you eat before you arrive, allow up to 90 minutes just in case there’s a line in the golf shop to get checked in.
It’s All About the Sequence
When it comes to warming up like a professional, the sequence in which you prepare matters as much as what you do. Even the right actions in the wrong order can be detrimental to feeling relaxed and ready to go. The following list is best when done in the order below:
Practice Putt First
Anyone who has spent any time on the practice putting green knows that after about 15 minutes, your back and shoulders can start to get sore, which is the last thing you want to feel before you start your round. By taking care of your practice putting first and finishing with full swings, you’ll be better prepared for the round and limit any potential for stiffness.
Here are the keys to a proper putting warmup:
- Your focus should be on getting the speed of the greens dialed in from short, middle, and long range.
- Warmups are not the time to work on mechanics. If you have a simple training aid to get a feel for your stroke, that’s great, but try to hit most of your putts like you would during a round.
- Keep your putting practice short—no more than 10 minutes. Save your good putts for the golf course!
Making any kind of golf swing without stretching can be troublesome. A great article to read on the best stretches is Katherine Roberts’ Golf Tips article, Stroke Saver: Seven Key Stretches. A simple five-minute stretching routine can make all the difference in the world. Once you’ve stretched, you’re ready to move onto chipping.
Short Game Warmup
For the rest of the warmup, you will swing the club in some manner. Getting a feel for your short game will also help your full swing when you head to the range. Start with some basic bump-and-run shots. Then, depending on the course’s short game facility, try some pitch shots from the fairway and rough, as well as some bunker shots. If you just have a chipping green, the bump-and-run alone will help your warmup immensely. Even the best players miss several greens and getting the ball close to the hole from around the greens will save you a ton of strokes over time. Take up to 20 minutes for your short game, which will leave you about 20 minutes for the full swing.
Don’t Overdo It On The Driving Range
The practice tee is where most recreational golfers go awry when it comes to warming up. A typical warm up may look something like the following:
- A few wedges
- A few irons
- A bunch of drivers
A typical round of golf features no more than 14 holes that require a driver, but irons and wedges are needed on every hole. Spend more time hitting wedges and short irons instead of drivers and you’ll quickly notice the difference.
Another area where golfers have counterproductive warmup sessions is the number of range balls they hit. Remember, a round of golf will usually have no more than 35-40 full swings, and you want to save as much energy for the golf course as possible. Limit the number of range balls you use to between 40-50. Here is a sample breakdown of how many balls to use with each club:
- Take your sand wedge and hit about 5 half shots, then hit 5 full shots
- Grab your favorite short iron and hit 10-15 full shots
- With a mid-iron, hit 5-10 full shots
- Take your 3-wood and hit 2 off the ground, then 3 off a tee
- Hit about 5 drivers, then hit the remaining balls with whatever club you plan to use on the first tee
Don’t Worry About the Little Things
There are two more areas to address regarding the warmup that many amateurs struggle with. First is the tendency to focus on what their warmup shots are doing. While you want to try to hit your range balls as well as possible, your main concern is to get your muscles warmed up and get a feel for your swing. Save the focus on execution for practice sessions. Second is the propensity for players to work on their golf swing during a warm-up. The last thing any golfer should do is have a head full of swing thoughts when they’re about to play. Again, analyzing your swing is something that should be done during practice, not before a round of golf.
Have Fun — Remember You’re Playing Golf
The last five minutes should be spent purging anything from your mind that isn’t about playing golf. Crack jokes with your friends, listen to some soothing music, take in the views of the course, anything to clear your head and be ready for your round. When you stand on the tee, keep the club swinging in your hands and your body moving; once it’s your turn, you will be ready to go.
Follow these steps and you will have warmed up just like the pros!
Paul and Tony Liberatore are the founders of Golfers Authority, where they provide unbiased reviews, guides, tips and advice in order to help other players improve their game. Tony is also the founder and inventor of the Accuhit, one of the most recognized golf training aids in the world. The Accuhit has been recognized by Golfweek, Golf Tips Magazine, Asian Golf Monthly, and many other publications as one of the most cost-effective golf training aids in the market.
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