Everyday I witness lots of amateur golfers fall victim to two major pitfalls during their warm-up prior to a round of golf. These common pitfalls, if not corrected, can set up a golfer for disaster before ever stepping foot on the first tee. Having an effective warm-up routine is crucial for success on the golf course. The challenge for most amateur golfers is nobody has taught them an effective way to get themselves physically and mentally prepared for a successful round of golf. In this article, I hope to end some of that confusion by breaking down the two common pitfalls to avoid during your warm-up. In addition, you will discover some simple yet highly effective guiding principles to help you get prepared to conquer the course and score your best.
Let's start by identifying the two most common pitfalls golfers experience during their warm-up.
Pitfall One: Not Having a Clear Purpose or Plan
The most common pitfall that the vast majority of amateur golfers fall into is not having a clear purpose behind their warm-up routine or a plan for preparation. I see so many golfers simply grab a few clubs out of their bag like a wedge, 8 iron, 5 iron, and driver. Then they pick up a bucket of balls, and start whacking away. Or, many golfers will just start with their wedge, take a few swings, and work their way up through their bag mindlessly hitting shot after shot. This is not the way to prepare yourself to play your best golf on the course.
Pitfall Two: Turning Your Warm-Up Into a Practice Session
The other major pitfall that can have disastrous effects is when a golfer turns their warm-up time into a practice session because of hitting a few poor shots at the range. Many golfers after a couple bad swings start losing trust in the swing they have developed and end up stressing out about outcomes which causes them to make unnecessary changes to their swing before the round. When a golfer starts messing with their mechanics during their warm-up, it is usually a clear indicator that disaster is fast approaching. As the tee time gets closer, the golfer begins to reel out of control, continues losing confidence in their swing, and frantically struggles to find the swing fix they need. As a result of these unnecessary swing changes, they approach the first tee tight and timid, and their self-doubt gets reinforced by hitting a poor tee shot. This pitfall during the warm-up not only hurts the scorecard, it negatively effects the golfer's overall enjoyment of the round.
To overcome these common pitfalls I recommend following these guiding principles while warming up before your next round of golf.
1. Know the "Real" Purpose of the Warm-up: Before your next round, remind yourself of the real purpose behind the warm-up which is to get yourself physically and mentally prepared to execute on the course. It is not time to practice a new move, make tweaks, or changes to your swing. Focus your attention on preparing your physical body for peak performance by doing golf-related stretches, properly hydrating your body, and loosening up your muscles. Next, focus more on connecting with the right feel of the swing and making smooth, rhythmic movements, instead of focusing heavily on mechanics. If you have a few poor swings or results then simply remind yourself of the real purpose of the warm-up which is not to hit your best shots at the range, it is all about getting prepared. Finally, remember the mental side of the game and prep your mind by rehearsing your pre-shot routine, maintaining positive self-talk, and visualizing successful shots to create a positive mental attitude before the first tee.
2. Practice the Shots You Will Hit The Most: Instead of just taking some random clubs to warm-up with or merely starting with a wedge and working up through your bag, take some time to think about the course you are about to play and the types of shots you will have to hit the most. Maybe it is a long course and you will be hitting mostly driver off the tee and lots of mid-range irons. Perhaps, it is a short course and you need to get used to hitting 3 woods and mostly wedges. Evaluate the type of course you are playing and use your warm-up time to hit the shots that are most important for success that day. Don't waste your time hitting a club that you know you will probably hit only once or twice throughout the round. Use your time effectively by hitting the clubs and shots you will need to execute. This will type of preparation will have you feeling confident and ready when you stepping on the first tee.
3. Identify Your Trends For The Day: To overcome the biggest pitfall, making unnecessary tweaks in your swing, it is important that you evaluate each one of your shots you take during warm-up so you learn about your game that day. Instead of getting frustrated and making changes, study what is happening so that you can identify performance trends. Amateur golfers tend to be much too rigid and try so hard for things to be or look a certain way which creates unneeded stress prior to the round. It is much more effective to practice the shots you need to hit that day and take notice of the results you are producing. If you are hitting a fade that day when you normally hit a draw, there is no need to stress out and tweak things, learn to adapt to it. Instead of saying "why can't I hit a draw today? What is going wrong?" Accept what is happening, mentally take note of this trend, and play it on the course. When you get to the first tee, simply make the appropriate adjustment. If you are hitting the ball right then set up on the tee box to account for this trend in your game. Aim your shot so it will work out if it went straight or missed a little right because of the trend in your swing you discovered at the range. This will give you the ability to maintain your confidence, make best use of the swing you have that day, and use it to your favor instead of making it a problem.
Next time you are preparing for a round of golf put these principles into action and you will be ready to go when you step foot on the first tee.