Golf Strategy: Your Essential Step-by-Step Golf Warm Up Routine

By | March 4, 2020

Symptom:  Your golf warm up routine is unstructured and scattered.

As a result, your round doesn’t really seem to get going until about the fifth hole, after you’ve dropped five shots and blown your chances of breaking 80 today.  Why can’t you just play 18 holes the way you know you can play them?  You wonder if perhaps you could have done a few golf warm up exercises, or somehow prepared for your round a bit better.

Description:  Your golf warm up needs to be deliberate and structured.  You need to warm up your body and work on all phases of your game.  It does not take much extra time (though if you are really pressed for time check out this advice), it just takes a bit of discipline.

The Elite Player’s Golf Warm Up Routine

All the pros follow a set golf warm up routine.  Here is Ricky Fowler’s routine.  Why does he do these things, in this order? It is no mere accident.  Read on, fellow Occasional Golfer, and all will be revealed…

The purpose of your pre-round warm up is not to put a lot of new concepts into play.  You are not trying to “fix your swing”, or anything similarly radical.  Such things must be done in dedicated practice sessions at the driving range or practice facility.

As you warm up, you are just trying to get mentally and physically prepared to play golf.  You need to use the swing and feel you have, on this particular day.  You are looking for the swing thoughts and ideas, feel, and confidence, that work for you today.

Most Important:  Arrive at the Golf Course Early

Get to the course about an hour before your tee time if you can.  Check in, pay greens fees, get your cart.  (Walking is better though — it keeps you loose and gives you a much better feel for the course you are playing).  With these chores out of the way, you can focus on preparation for your round.

As you prepare, it is important to start with the simpler drills, and then advance to the more difficult shots.  This builds your confidence, which is absolutely mandatory for a good round of golf.  If you are doubting yourself before a shot you are in big trouble.

The Short Game is the Launchpad for Your Warmup

You should start on the putting green.  Putting puts you in the proper frame of mind for golf.  It gets you focused on getting the ball into the hole.  Start close to the hole with the balls in a line putting drill, and the surround the cup putting drill.  Gradually move farther from the hole with these drills.

Once you feel comfortable with your stroke, hit lag putts and be sure to make every putt.  It doesn’t matter how many putts it takes.  You need to feel the sting of the three putt on the practice green.

Here you can quickly redeem yourself and correct your mistakes.  (On the course you will not get to hit another putt until you reach the next green, in 15 minutes.)  As you are putting, be sure to listen for the ball to drop, don’t let your golf ball line wobble, and make sure your putts all either go in or finish past the hole.  Breaking putts should be missing on the high side or going in the hole.

Chipping comes next.  Focus on feel, and always keep your hands ahead of the ball during the chip.  Putt in every one of your chips, so you get the feel of getting up and down.  After a few chips, move on to the driving range.

Driving Range Masterclass Golf Warm Up Routine

Rickie Fowler warming up for a round range balls alignment stick golf warm up golf warm up routine

Rickie Fowler hitting range balls with a short iron before his round, using an alignment stick.

On the driving range, focus on getting the feel of your swing and your tendencies for the day.  Again, you are not trying to invent new swing techniques, just trying to find what works for you today.

Be sure to use a club on the ground for aiming, and aim at a spot right in front of you on your target line, and always aim at something as you practice.  These setup-related points are crucial because they ensure you have a consistent and correct setup for each shot.  They will help you find your swing quickly as you prepare for your round.

Walk Before You Run – Start With Lofted Clubs

When you warm up, begin with your sand or lob wedge.  Hit pitch shots of 20 yards, then 30 yards, 40 yards, and so on.  Only make a full swing after about ten shots.  Be sure to accelerate through the ball and have a high finish on your pitch shots.  Finally, hit some full sand wedges.  Then move to your longer irons — nine iron, seven iron, five iron.

It is important to start with the more lofted clubs because they are easier to hit than your long irons.  This will give you more confidence as you groove your swing for the day.  Don’t move to a longer club until you’ve hit several good shots with the shorter club.

This is important, because if you find that you are struggling with, say, your five iron, you can use your nine iron swing.  The nine iron swing just worked, so you use it on your five iron.

Phil Mickelson progresses from short to long clubs in his warmup routine, have a look:

Unless the grass on the driving range is truly immaculate (seldom the case, but it is at Augusta in the video above!), you should put the ball on a tee for these initial iron shots, especially for the longer irons.  Finally, hit a few three woods, longer irons, and a few drivers.

Driving Range Hack – Simulate Your Round on the Range

Finally, rehearse how you will hit the clubs as you play the course.  For example, if the first hole is a par four, hit a driver (or three wood), then a seven iron off the grass, but aiming at a flag that is not directly in front of you — choose one at an angle that forces you to line up your shot carefully.

If hole #2 is a par three, hit a six iron off a tee.  If hole #3 is a par 5, hit driver, three wood, then a 60-yard sand wedge.  And so on until you are satisfied with your ability to hit your clubs the proper distance.  And at your intended target.

If you follow this routine, you will have both a short and long game that your can trust on the golf course.  This will lead to lower scores and a much more enjoyable round for you and your playing partners.

Enjoy your round!

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