How to be ready for the first shot of the day
Control the controllables
In golf, very few things are in our full control. Weather conditions, bounces, ball lies, our competitors and an infinite amount of others things affect our results and there is very little we can do about it.
This makes it even more important to focus our attention on the things that are in our control, which usually involve some kind of mental element.
How we prepare for tournaments falls directly under our control, we have a choice to either dedicate time and effort to being as prepared as possible or making a half-hearted attempt to be ready for the first shot of the day. As the adage goes, “fail to prepare, prepare to fail”.
We hear the word “routine” a lot in golf and instantly we think of a pre-shot routine, but professional golfers have many other routines that they vividly follow, one being their pre-round warm-up routine. So what’s an example of a world-class pre-round warm-up routine, reflecting that of the best players in the world.
Pre-Round Warm-Up Routine – Physical Warm-up
Golf is a highly physical sport which requires the use of almost every joint in the human body. It’s essential to warm up the whole body physically to optimise golf course performance. I would argue, that if you were short of time, a physical warm-up should be prioritised over hitting golf balls before a round of golf. Experienced golfers have the motor skills of golf technique hard-wired into their brains, they know how to hit a golf ball, the important thing is to optimise their bodies conditioning to let those motor skills be performed uninhibited by activating muscles and freeing up joints.
Not only is golf physical demanding, but it’s arguably the most mentally demanding sport there is. Our frame of mind largely determines how we respond to various situations. If you are in a good frame of mind, irritating situations pass by often with no response, but if you are already agitated by something, even the smallest irritant can result in an emotional outburst.
With this in mind, don’t underestimate the power of 2 to 5 minutes of mental priming before you start hitting balls. A simple meditation, creating a daily mantra and setting mental performance goals can be the difference between success and failure.
Most golfers turn up to a golf tournament and immediately start here. As you can see there are two important elements we’ve just discussed above that should be completed before hitting any golf ball! If you completed the above two steps, congrats, you’re already ahead of 90% of your competition!
There are 3 main sets of technical skills we need to warm up before its time to tee off:
1. Full Swing 2. Short Game 3. Putting
Our main focus is to ensure you’re prepared in all of these areas, specifically for the first tee shot of the day. With this in mind, we recommend a warm-up order of Putting, Short Game, and Full Swing.
The global skill of putting is made of 3 smaller skills and we should warm up each of these skills during our putting preparation:
– Ball Performance – Start Line
– Green Reading
Without going into too much detail, hit some putts with a line on the ball and check its rolling end over end, this shows an efficient role on the ball.
Then check your start line either using a start line training aid, a putting gate or simply putting to a tee or coin placed 1 foot in front of the ball.
Finally, practice some green reading. We promote Aimpoint green reading. Use a clinometer device or the app on your phone and prime your feel to different slope gradients and then start doing some blind reads and finish by hitting different putts going through a full read and routine.
The short game is about creativity so wake up your creative skills when warming up by practising all types of shots. High, mid and low flights, high, mid and low spin, with different clubs from different lies to different pin locations. Go through some full routines also to prepare your mind for the course.
Start with pitches and work your way up through the bag. Have a set amount of balls allocated to each type of shot. This ensures you hit the same amount of balls every time before a round of golf. This routine provides a mental assurance that you’ve done everything you need to do to go out and perform, nothing has been missed.
What’s the main purpose of a warm-up?
Always remind yourself that the purpose of a warm-up is to warm up! In some warm-ups you’ll hit the ball great, others you won’t hit so well, but this has no correlation to how you will play on the golf course. Many people shoot themselves in the foot before they even start the round because of their driving range performance, they walk to the first tee already doubting their ability because they miss-hit some shots on the range.
In summary, control what you can control. Stick to a routine that you complete every time and walk to the first tee as best prepared as you can be for a great round of golf!