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Pre-game Warm-up

by: Jean Enright


The car turns into the entrance on two wheels and comes to a screeching halt in an open space at the end of the lot. The trunk flips up and the driver rushes out and disappears behind the open lid. A few moments later she emerges with golf cart in tow, shoelaces still untied, and wallet in hand. As she approaches the door, the pro shop staff safely assumes she's the fourth in the Dunlop party at 9:52. It's now 9:47. 

She pulls open the door, rushes to the counter and says, somewhat breathlessly, "Eighteen holes please. I'm with the Dunlops at nine something." The staff gives her the receipt and asks her to show it to the starter. "Okay, thanks," she says while running down the hall to the ladies room. A few minutes later, she's on the first tee taking a few practice swings and proceeds to hit the ball straight down the middle--about twenty yards--beheading a few worms along the way.

We've all witnessed this scenario before. Of course, we've never experienced it ourselves, have we?! We do our body possible harm and our golf game definite disservice when we do not take time to properly warm up prior to playing a round of golf or even prior to practicing our swing at the range. The only "warm up" this woman experienced was bending down to tie her golf shoes! Professional and recreational athletes in every other sport take time to warm up prior to the activity; golf should be no different.

There are several ways in which we can better prepare our body and mind to work more efficiently, and therefore effectively, for a round of golf. 

  • Ideally we should arrive at the course about 30 to 60 minutes prior to our tee time. At worst, we should arrive no less than 20 minutes prior. 

  • Ten to fifteen minutes should be spent stretching. We use many different muscles in the golf swing and it doesn't take much to throw one out of whack. We should stretch out upper and lower back, shoulders and hamstring muscles. There are many books with stretching exercises on the market, or seek the advice of a good physical therapist, especially if you have any physical limitations.  

  • After stretching, get a small bucket of balls for the practice range. Start with a wedge, not the big cannon, a.k.a. the driver. Hit a few pitch shots with half swings and gradually work your way up to full swings with the wedge, then perhaps on to the 7 iron, 5 iron, 7 wood, and finish with a few "driving club" swings. 

  • Keep in mind that you must always have a specific target when practicing. After all, golf is a target game. Therefore, your practice should simulate your play so that you don't tense up when faced with varying parameters on the golf course.

  • Now it's on to the most important part of the game: chipping and putting. Taking a few minutes to chip and putt at the course's practice green will help prepare you for the short shots on the course. A good way to practice these shots is to play "up and down." This exercise is more fun than beating a bunch of balls around the green and it simulates more of what it's like to be on the course. Take three balls and pick three different targets at three different distances. Chip one ball to each target using either one club for all three targets or a different club for each target. Then take out your putter and putt each ball to each target. Your goal is to take one chip and one putt to each target, hence "up and down". A very realistic goal, and one that golfers at all levels should attain, is to chip once and putt no more than twice to get in the hole.

Sometimes we are not able to arrive at the golf course well ahead of time. In this case, you may skip the practice time, but do not skip the stretching. We can recover from a few poor shots, but we can knock ourselves out of the game for several days, weeks or even months by not properly preparing our bodies for our round of golf.

~ Jean Enright is an LPGA Teaching Professional at Holly Ridge G.C. - Sandwich, MA ~

Source: Tee Time, New Englandís Golf Magazine, Spring 1999.


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