I’ve been experimenting with several warm-up techniques this season and have finally hit on one that fully prepares me to play. Several routines have left me fidgety and uncomfortable for the first few holes until my natural rhythm takes over, and usually with some bad scores on the card. My goal is to feel as comfortable and confident on the first tee as I am after playing five holes. Here we go:
Start by getting to the course early. Normally, I’ll arrive 50-60 minutes before my tee time but have recently found that an additional 15 minutes is required to eliminate any feeling of being rushed. I’ll start the warm up on the driving range by slowly swinging my 4-iron with a weighted doughnut around the hosel. I’ll deliberately hold the finish position on each swing to ensure I’m fully rotated, weight is distributed correctly on my forward foot, and my rotational muscles have been fully stretched. I’ll take about 15 of these. Next I’ll hit about 15 balls off a tee with my pitching wedge. I use the tee to promote good contact and to build confidence. Next I’ll hit about half a dozen 7-irons, again off a tee to build more confidence. Next, I’ll move to driver and hit half a dozen. If I feel really good, I’ll try to shape a few because drawing or fading the ball on command is a tremendous confidence boost, but only try this if you understand how to shape your shots. The warm up is for getting loose and building confidence, NOT for experimenting with new moves or getting overly mechanical. Finally I’ll wrap up with about 10 shots off the turf with my 56 degree wedge. On every shot, I’ll alter the target because I don’t want to get robotic and do want to get my mind in game mode. I find it helps to pause between shots and maybe chat up a friend or fellow competitor, just to remove any focus on yourself and set your mind in a relaxed state.
Next I’ll move to the short game area (hopefully you’ll have one), and hit some easy chips off good lies to a flag that has ample room to run out. Very important to hit easy shots because you want to see the ball getting close (or in) to build confidence. Chip for about 5-10 minutes. Then take a few pitch shots from good lies to easily accessible holes, again to build confidence. See a pattern developing here? Finally wrap up with some lag putts of 10-20 feet. You want to see the ball get close or go in and not end up in three putt range. Finish up by making half a dozen very short putts of two feet or less, just to make sure you make them all. It’s VERY important to see the ball go in the hole.
Want to be prepared for success on the first tee? Try this routine. Let me know how it goes and good luck!