In golf, how you approach the game has quite a bit to do with outcome. You can’t just go up there and hit it and expect consistent results. Here are the keys to making practice, play and then performance rounds count. Even more important at this early time in the season when you don’t have much of a practice or performance routine.
Consistent Warm-up. Your warm-up should consist of movement-based activities like arm circles, leg circles, trunk twists and the like. These exercises get blood flowing so the muscles and work optimally and improve flexibility for that day. In addition, the warm up serves as a mental trigger that you are going from your normal life or work into a focus shift for golf. This warm-up should be 90-120 seconds, and should be the same for practice days to real play. After that warm up is complete, swing 5-10 times without hitting a golf ball, then continue with short irons first.
Hit deliberately. Ben Hogan, on the range would take 60-90 seconds between shots. Why? First, it gives a chance to unfocus, then focus on how you are swinging that day. So, in essence you are practicing your preshot routine while working on mechanics. And, in practice it gives you time to develop a mechanical or other focus point. An overlooked factor in deliberate practice benefit is discovering swing tendencies that specific day. Hitting it with a draw or fade? Don’t change it; go with it on the course. 25-30 balls should normally be enough to get a sense of swing tendencies and serve as the final swing warm up. A final thought is tour players have incredibly structured preshot routines, which are timed to the second. Would you benefit from that type of mental structure in golf? ABSOLUTELY!!!
With busy schedules, it is often overlooked that a consistent warm up and shot warm up are actually mental cues or signals to get your mind out of the boardroom and into golf!
Spot Putting. On the putting green, most golf courses will have the grass and green speed similar to the course. Throw a couple of balls down, and first get a sense of green speed by putting to a spot and seeing how much roll out there is after you think it will stop. Then use that estimation to try and make varying lengths of putts.
Pace of Play. It is important to tune your mental routine to the pace of play and course. Trying to play speed golf in less than 2.5 hours at your home course does way more harm than good. No real world shot selection, mental process and even aiming points. The transfer of that kind of golf approach to competitive golf is totally negative, or none at all. No aim, no pre shot routine. And more importantly, when something does go awry, and it does in golf, you don’t have a routine to fix it and re-establish focus during a round. Rather than playing speed golf, play just nine holes at a normal pace of play to practice the timing and nuances of the mental game.
Golf is a very deliberate game and activity. You have to be specific with the target, swing, shot and course conditions. The routine and factors described will help you be more deliberate, and will improve both your recreational and competitive golf round scores.