Re-thinking your warm-up routine
By Erika Larkin on 8/29/12
What is your pre-round warm up? I don't think there is a right answer... you have to do what works best for YOU. However, many of my students are not consistent with their routine and don’t have a clear purpose for their warm up.

Does this sound like you? Arrive at the course, check in, go straight to the range, start with a mid-iron right into full swings until you feel "loose" and then hit a few drives, see which way it's going, make a few tweaks, and then maybe if you have time hit 10 putts on the green and go to the first tee and finally take a breath. Some people "work" on their swings too much before playing and they get overloaded with swing thoughts that they won’t be able to transfer to the course, others don’t warm up at all and their first few holes reflect it.

Make a concerted effort before your next round to get to the course about forty-five minutes to a half-hour early. These should be your goals:
  • Establish rhythm, tempo, and grip pressure for the day. Start at the chipping green with a wedge and hit some soft pitches, then work up into some longer wedge shots at the range.

  • WARM UP your body with gentle swinging / moving at a cardio pace, THEN stretch key areas. (What are your key areas? Don't forget your hamstrings, back, shoulders.)

  • Calibrate your speed control on the putting green. Hit long putts at 20, 30, 40 feet on uphill and downhill slopes to see the pace of the greens for the day.

  • Build confidence by making short (3-4 foot) putts; seeing the ball going in the hole is always great!

  • Start visualizing shots you will hit on the course that day, select the appropriate club, and go through your pre-shot routine like you would on the course. Calibrate your alignment to selected targets on the range. (Rehearsing shots before you play the course will help you get in a good frame of mind.)

  • Remind yourself of two or three swing thoughts for the day and stick with them. The range, pre-round, is not a place to start searching for new swing keys or making changes.

  • Ignore bad shots... it's hard, but remember that you are warming up and you will have misses - it's normal. Try to mentally "delete" them - just stay relaxed and stick with your normal swing thoughts. Trust yourself!

I can think back to many a time where I've had great warm-ups and played badly, and have had bad warm-ups and played great. So, remember what your expectations should be before a round, come up with a plan for which you make time, and it will pay off!

Erika Larkin is the Director of Instruction at Larkin Golf Learning Community at Stonewall Golf Club in Gainesville, Virigina. She was named the 2012 Middle Atlantic PGA "Teacher of the Year" and the 2011 "Top Golf Pro" by Washingtonian Magazine... and she's oobgolf's newest columnist. She will be writing on a variety of topics including instruction, so if you have a question for her or an idea for a column, email her at Enjoy!

Image via Torleif Sorenson

[ comments ]
Panerai111 says:
So you mean getting to the course 10 minutes before my tee time is not a good warm up routine? :D
birdieXris says:
I start with putting first. I go to the putting green and establish a good tempo with the putting stroke first. Then i go to the range and do some wedges up to the driver. 6 balls with each, good or bad.

I try not to do the range then to the putting green because i get loose on the range, then i stay in one position for 10-15 minutes or more while putting and stiffen up again. Not good when i get to the first tee.
Torleif Sorenson says:
Before now, I've been doing the same thing as BX in my warm-up approach. In those exceedingly rare instances where I actually get to go play, that is...

Erika, thanks for making me re-think the warm-up / pre-game routine!
Banker85 says:
i like it, possibly the best advice i have read on this site
bkuehn1952 says:
I have experimented with various warm-ups and have come to the conclusion that I just don't benefit from anything more than some light stretching and hitting a dozen or so lag putts on the practice green. Lots of courses I play have neither a range nor a chipping green. Having a routine is all about consistency. Developing a routine that requires hitting balls and/or chipping would screw me up in those instances where my first shot is from #1 tee.

I totally agree with the points Erika makes; they are just not for me.
Matt McGee says:
Great article. I'm going to re-think some things.
mmontisano says:
I usually start off with some 50 and 100 yard pitch shots, then a 7 iron to get my tempo down and see how I'm hitting it that day. then I move on to what will be my first tee shot for the day. after that is some short putts to build up some confidence on the greens.
GBogey says:
I agree with bkuehn in that several of the places I frequent don't have ranges and I often play better just with stretching and putting practice. The one thing i have added, which I think came from Erica, is to make sure that I stretch my hamstrings. Before I started focusing on this, I often topped the ball or hit it thin for several holes. This has stopped since I started really making sure that my hamstrings are loose.
aaronm04 says:
I start on the putting green with 3-footers, typically at a hole location with some break. Move to a few 6-footers. Then hit putts to the nearby holes to get a feel for speed. A few 3-6 footers at that hole and then on to the next. Do this for 15-20 minutes. Then to the chipping green. Start with green-side short irons to get a feel for contact. Move back to higher lofted wedges and pitch shots. Do that for about 10-15 minutes then to the range. A few moves to stretch and loosen up, then hit some short irons. Move to longer clubs, usually only as high as 3-wood which is my go-to club. I'm trying to get my feel and rhythm. I do that for 15+ minutes and I'm ready. If it's a shotgun start at a tourney, I do that in reverse order because slots on the range are a premium for shotgun starts, even more so as the start time nears. An hour early and the range is pretty open.
lcgolfer64 says:
Just an aside - I know I've played enough golf in my area when I pulled up the article ...and immediately knew the course in the picture above, Torleif, haha!

For us fellow Minnesota golfers, this is the practice green at Como. Great little course that's been around 'forever.' While I haven't played as often as I'd like this year, 4 times - I drive by there quite a bit.I work within about a mile of the course. - Great picture and thanks for the quick memory while I sit in a windowless office on such a nice day.
SteadyHoo says:
Regarding 3-4 footers: at Erika Larkin's course, they have special little holes on the practive green that are like 2 inches in diameter. You can get frustrated pretty quick, but makes the real holes look like dinner plates.
wrhall02 says:
Thank you, this hit a cord with me.
hp says:
Solid first article. Welcome to the community.

When I play club tournaments, I have the same 1 hour 15 minute warmup routine that I've had for the past 5 years. It really helps to ensure the best possible round. 

HOWEVER, for regular casual rounds, it's not often that I have (or choose to have) that time luxury. So if I only have 15-30 minutes before tee off, the very MINIMUM I do is slow stretches for a solid 10-12 minutes. It improves my ball contact, prevents injury, keeps me relaxed and unrushed which helps tempo, and the mind clear. I choose this EVERY time over cramming over a handful of range balls.

[ post comment ]
    Cigar Lounge
Most Popular: