Practice vs. Warm Up
One thing I enjoy (most of the time) about writing this column is that you readers are so darned candid. I dropped the ball on the free set of SCOR4161 clubs, and you busted my chops. Deservedly so. The winner has been drawn and it is "Shallowface." The guys who do this didn't realize that I had promised a second set, so they will draw that winner today and post it at the end of this column later on.
What I heard loud and clear is that you want me to get off my
'soapbox' about SCOR clubs, the PGA Tour, and a few other topics that don't affect the way you play the game. And you want me to get back on topic about what I can share that could help you play the game better, have more fun. I promise to do that, starting right now.
But I do also promise you the occasional editorializing about what I find troubling or puzzling about the game. A few years ago, I created the fictional "Texas WedgeHog — Rootin' out the truth" to be my alter-ego who could throw political correctness to the wind and just opine about various subjects. I promise to put the old WedgeHog front and center occasionally.
But let's get on with addressing some of your questions. Today I've selected one from Mr_X, who asked about "practice" time vs. pre-round warm-up time. Here are my thoughts...
To me, a pre-round session is to get loose and find what's working today, to get the feel of the club in my hands so that I am prepared for the round. I begin by stretching some, and then loosening up the muscles before my first swing. I like to swing two clubs, but one in each hand, with my hands together. That gives me the resistance in my shoulders and back of the two clubs, but when I go to just one for my first swing, the club doesn't feel heavy.
I begin my pre-round session with some short chips, then longer pitches, then move into half and full shots with the high-loft clubs. I think progress through the set to a short iron, middle iron, and hybrid, hitting shots until I get two or three really nice ones in a row, then move on to the next club. I then hit a few 4-woods and drivers, until I feel good about going to the first tee. I finish that session with a half-dozen short chip shots to re-install that feel and comfort. Then it is off to the putting green for 5-10 minutes of getting the feel of the greens and my stroke for the day.
In contrast, when I go for a practice session, I typically limit that to one thing I'm working on at the time. It might be tempo, take-away, weight shift, working a draw... whatever. I limit myself to one or maybe two things, depending on my progress. I begin that session by hitting some shots without trying to "do" anything, but rather feeling for what I am doing. Then I analyze and begin to instill changes.
I know my swing very well, so this approach works for me. If you don't know it that well, I am a big fan of engaging an instructor to help you.
Once I find what I’m seeking that day, I keep hitting balls until I feel like it is ingrained a bit. But in doing this, I always keep in mind something I learned while watching Harvey Penick give Tom Kite a session. He wouldn't let Tom hit more than a half dozen shots with one club, then he would have him change to something else. He didn't let Tom just rip 5-irons endlessly, for example. He would watch a few 5s, then have Tom go to an 8. Then back to a 4, then to a 9, etc. I thought that made sense, so I have adopted that to my practice sessions.
Okay guys, there's today's insight. I'll dive into another one of these topics next week. I would also like to ask you to use the link below for your ideas, as that way I can keep a file of them for reference. It works much better for me than trying to remember under which post a question was posted.
Thanks again for your candor and honesty to help keep me on track.
The Wedge Guy is sponsored by SCOR Golf, where Terry Koehler is President/CEO. He encourages you to submit your questions or topics to be considered for his columns on Tuesdays and Fridays. Each submission automatically enters you to win a SCOR4161 wedge to be given away monthly. Click the button below to submit your question or topic today.
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Terry - thanks for announcing the 1st winner & for adding a 2nd.
Nice post Terry. I am looking forward to warmer weather so I can hit the range again.
I'm sure I'm not your favorite poster by far. But I must commend you on your ability to take criticism/critique and roll with it.
That isn't easy (I know I can't do it all that well).
For what it's worth - I'm bummed out your saying you'll be getting away from your recent article writing method or whatever. I just refused to contribute (if my posts can be considered contributions) until you did what you said you would.
I for one love the more wedges, smaller gaps in the lower range club selection thing. If I could afford your clubs I'd already have 'em.
I have a question on timing and order -- I've heard it said that you should warm up putting first, then go to the range so as not to stiffen up and it's also easier to bring your range game to the first tee. Thoughts on that?
I agree 100% with your warm up and practice processes. That is my exact process as well. I like to go to practice sessions with a specific focus in mind. I usually make a plan and stick to it for my practice days. On play days, I will warm up on the range after putting and chipping a bit to find my touch. Then I'll hit no more than a small bucket, starting with partial wedges, then 3 or 4 9 irons and 7 irons, a few hybrids off turf and tee, same with a 4W and then make sure I have my driver swing working. Finally I'll finish up with a few full wedges to a target and I'm ready to go. This sounds very similar to your pre-round warm up.
How about that. We agree on something. There is hope for us after all.
Lately before the round all I've been doing is putting and chipping and spend plenty of time loosening up before the first tee box. Hit even a small bucket at my muni is horrible because the balls are so bad.
I always warm up with the putter first. I would find myself spending too long on the full swing and neglecting the most important part of the game. Aside from that, my warmup is the same as Terry's. However, if there is a shotgun start, I will get there early and start with the full swing since the range spots are at a premium the closer it is to tee time.
You could figure out what you're hitting off the 1st tee & get comfortable with that shot/club somewhere in your warm-up.
Terry - if you have a chance to reply, or anyone else. A few years ago I saw a method of warming like mentioned here, but then at the end of your warm up, simulate the first few holes of said course. As in, if the first hole is a par 4, hit driver, and estimate your approach and use that club and maybe a chip. If second hole is par 3, use the club you would use for that, 3rd hole par 5, maybe a driver, hyrbid than short iron, etc. Kind of how some basketball or football teams have the first few plays arranged ahead of time, and adapt as necessary.
I've only done this a few times, but curious if anyone else has tried it. I figure you would only do the first 3 or so holes, eventually you just get into your rhythm.
Slimpks, looks like I have your idea, but just stretched out. I wrote half of this then walked away on a phone call and finished it later so didn't see your post.
@jrbizzle, Yes this is a great drill that I also do quite often. really helps you visualize and think about what to expect. Highly recommend.
Jrbizzle I do that every time before I play. If I know the course I play the first 3 holes in my mind then I'm done with full range shots
I hit balls before that too
My muni don't have ranges to warm up on, but I've heard multiple pros recommend that you end your warm up using the club you will hit on your first tee. Also, I find practice sessions much more useful if I alternate clubs every 5 shots or so.
DougE and jasonfish11 - thanks. It's something new for me (just started last season) but I think it has helped calm the nerves on those first few shots.
if problems creep in during a warm-up session before you tee off, don't panic. Gear down to a slower, shorter swing. This will allow you to feel what's out of sync. Then, gradually return to full swings. Simplify, and always swing within yourself. I like to warm up with my driver--very, very gentle, slow "practice swing" mode, not caring where the ball goes, just warming up the big muscles. Then I hit some easy 3/4 punch shots with my 7-iron, letting my hands make friends with the turf. Only then do I zero in on an assortment of target-oriented
full shots, letting feel take over rather than mental keys or commands involving words. "Thinking" raises one's center of gravity and leads to loss of balance. Keep your head in your stomach.
A friend of mine kept an elaborate database of our golf scores and other factors for a few years - yes he really geeked out. We found a pretty clear pattern regarding practice and warm ups: Warming up before a round had no effect on our rounds, but having practiced the short game within a few days of the round did. One one particular place we played was a very narrow and fun pitch-and putt in Oakland CA called Montclair Golf course. It was tucked into a small "canyon" in the Oakland hills, was cheap, and featured small green, trees overhead in places, and tons of blackberries along side the course for a snack. Playing there just about always led to a good round in ensuing days!
Matt F says:
So, who's the second winner?
Matt its dottomm. Last post of prior article
onedollarwed, that is really interesting. I've noticed something similar to that. If I know I have a golf weekend coming up, I'll chip a few extra plastic golf balls in my house that week to get the feel of it to stick. Same thing with putting. Seems to make a difference, good to know someone else has the same idea.
As for warmup before a round, I'll typically putt for a while. If there's a chipping green, that's next. Then I'll loosen up by stretching and some practice swings. If there's a range, I get a small bucket and hit 2-3 balls per club to see what's working that day. A little more chipping then tee off!
It's funny, perhaps it has more to do with how much one plays? I rarely play more than bi-weekly; very rarely more thank once per week. This way it helps not to play too much and give purchase to bad habits and gremlins. Ever had a course you play fine develop problem holes/shots over time?
Sometimes "playing it stupid" is term we used to say to get back to basics, or Mongo golf. Mongo see ball, hit ball. Meaning... just play it straight down Broadway, nothing fancy, no need to shave corners.
In my 20's a friend in his 40's used to always kvetch about needing long warm-up time before a round if it was "cool." He said I would know when I'm 40. Well I'm into my 40's and know he was full of crap. It was just another lousy excuse he'd use for playing like carp. (yeah, like carp).
Other friends still tell me they played their best golf when I had built a 10+ hole course for plastic balls and we'd play a few times a week. Silly!
Terry, thanks for drawing my name!
Fortunately I already have the SCOR wedges I need, so I'd appreciate it if you would draw another name and send them to someone who can benefit from them.
I suggest slimpks.
Tim Horan says:
@jrbizzle- Envisioning a round of golf is the only way I can approach a range session. Unless I have a specific that I am working on the range just bores me to death! I go to the range only if I am working on a specific or if the weather is so bad that I get cabin fever.
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