The weather forecast is for an absolutely gorgeous spring day and you have an opportunity to play golf. Here are some tips for things to do before a round of golf that will make sure that you have the best chance to enjoy your round. Some of these you may be aware of and some you may not, but from years of experience these are my favorites.
These are listed in more or less chronological order to help you set up a routine, but all of the tips are important.
Eat and Drink Right
It is important to eat and drink healthy before the round. You may not notice it so much early in the round, but on the back nine you can get tired and lose focus. If you are playing early, stick with cereal and fruit (think healthy and light). If you are playing later in the morning, you can go with a full breakfast such as bacon, eggs, pancakes, biscuits, etc.
The worst thing you can do is be late and hold everyone up. Don’t be that person that has to be told a fake tee time, an earlier one so the group isn’t late teeing off. Be sure to give yourself enough time to go in the pro shop and pay your fees and pick up some practice balls before starting your warmup routine.
Stretch and Get Your Muscles Loose
There are a multitude of recommended exercises out there, but most golfers want to keep it simple. My favorites include holding a golf club with one hand on each end and lift it over your head if possible without bending your arms. Repeat this by taking it as far back as possible without hurting yourself. Then, place it behind your neck, holding it with one hand on each side of your head and practice turning as far as possible a few times. Finish up by swinging two clubs at a time for a few swings.
Start With Hitting Short Irons Off a Tee
This is a great way to get some feel for solid contact and most driving ranges don’t have turf that is pristine. After the first few shots you may or may not want to hit off the ground. We are trying to build some confidence here. When you do hit the ball off the turf just remember that you probably have a lie that flat all day.
Hit Balls to See Where It’s Going Today
This is not the time to start trying to correct problems or work on fixing perceived swing flaws. All you want to do is get the ball going in generally the same direction every time. If your slice is a little worse today just live with that and don’t fight it. You can fix it later. Whatever you do, don’t ask for tips or listen to any. It will ruin your round for sure. Whatever happens, do not judge your warm up. In all probability how you hit it on the course will be different. Some of my best rounds came when I warmed up poorly and some of my worst came after really hitting it well warming up.
Spend Most of Your Time on Short Game & Putting
Whatever amounts of time you have to practice, spend most of it on chipping, pitching and putting. After you finish your full shots, end your range session with short pitches and chipping if possible.
When it is time to putt, here is a great tip to work with: When you first get to the putting green, practice getting feel for long putts by putting from different distances to the fringe and try to get the ball to stop as close to the fringe as possible.
Finish by working on shot easy putts. You want to finish by seeing putts going in the hole. Practicing from 10 or 15 feet just shows you missed putts and that is not positive.
Do Not “Expect” to Play Well
I know this sounds strange, but golf for average golfers is far more mental than they realize. If you set your expectations high and start poorly it could ruin it for the entire round. One bit of advice for getting started well is to hit with whatever you club you’re most comfortable with off the first tee. Hitting the first fairway is a big attitude booster.
The idea is to enjoy your round and that means trying to focus on positive targets and outcomes. Most golfers unfortunately don’t know the difference between focusing and worrying.
One last thing to keep in mind – it is a proven fact that the best players in the world only bring their “A” game about 20% of the time which explains Tiger and Jack Nicklaus. They were so good they could win without their “A” game. Take whatever game you brought today and make the best of it and have fun.