I’ve worked with a lot of golfers, some of whom have a consistent approach to their pre-round preparation, and others who don’t hit a single ball before heading to the first tee. So what’s the right prescription for getting yourself prepared to play?
First of all, let me clarify the difference between practice and warm-up — yes, there is a difference. Practice time should be scheduled on the days when you aren’t playing, with a focus on training your mind and body. This time is reserved for activities like lessons, working out glitches in your swing mechanics, learning a new shot, etc. A pre-round warm-up in golf must prepare your mind and body to operate in “play” mode.Click To Tweet
What I mean, is cultivating a mindset to consistently play from a place of trust — trusting your swing one shot at a time.
Golfers who approach the warm-up period before playing as a practice session never give themselves the opportunity to reinforce a mindset of trust that will support great play. And if you don’t fix what you’d hoped to, you may continue to try to iron a glitch while on the course. If this sounds familiar, then you need to adjust your pre-round game plan. By following a 3-step process, you can prepare your mind and body to operate more fluidly from the start of your next round.
Step 1 – Basic Stretching
If you don’t live far from where you’ll be playing for the day, you can do some basic light stretching at home. It’s important that you progressively work from head to toe to lengthen your various muscle groups, to give yourself the best opportunity to swing freely, physically.
Step 2 – Capture the “Feel”
Successful golfers understand the necessity of playing with great systems. You will achieve greater consistency in your game when you prepare for each shot, both on the range or the course, using the same process. Many golfers struggle at address, attempting to juggle a multitude of mechanically centered swing thoughts. Before you head out to play, you’ve got to actively clear the clutter.
A solid pre-shot routine enables you to limit your field of focus to the relevant cues that support great shots, and connect to the “feel” of your best swing. Your brain is your on-board computer and it’s in charge of directing your body’s movements. To create a targeted command for your body to execute a specific swing action, you have to connect with what that swing feels like. The best way to accomplish this is to take one or more practice swings before each shot, as well as, focus on a single keyword that describes the feel of your great swing — fluid, compact, smooth and easy. Plan to hit a handful of shots with your wedges, mid irons, driver or any assortment of clubs you wish to connect with to get a gauge of your assets for the day. If something just isn’t working, then plan to use what is, and move on.
Step 3 – Engage a Playing Mindset
The final part of your warm-up should be spent playing the course right there on the range. The practice tee is the perfect place to connect to the dynamic nature of live play, yet so many golfers engage in rapid fire, and repetition, which is not how the game is played. There’s no better way to rehearse success than to imagine and play the first three holes on the course before heading to the first tee. Create an image in your mind of the fairway on Hole #1. Play the first shot. Based on where the ball finishes on your imagined fairway, you will plan the next shot and so on. Play each hole until you are on the green, and then proceed to playing the next hole. Just as in live play, there are no do-overs, so don’t just pull another ball and repeat a shot you don’t like.
This exercise is designed to help you engage at a high level on every shot, just as you expect yourself to do on the course. With steps 2 and 3 you are not only warming up your body, but also your mind.
This entire warm-up process takes about 15-30 minutes, depending on how much time you feel you need for steps 1 and 2. If a warm-up has not been a part of your game, schedule enough of a buffer before your tee time to have a relaxed and productive preparation period. Using effective systems will enable you to take greater control over your game and limit the interference that can separate you from playing to your full potential.
To find out more about the mental game private sessions and golf schools I offer year round at Tiburon, please contact me today at 239.431.6810.