My Golf Instructor

Practicing Before a Round
Proper Preparation Can Bring Your Scores Down

Learn how to practice before a roundPre Round Warm Up

If I asked you "In what ways are tour players different and better than the average player?", you would mostly likely give me answers such as: "they have a smoother tempo", "they hit the ball way further", "they are more skilled with the putter" or "everything just comes naturally to them." These are the standard answers and beliefs that most golfers have. While most of the answers are true, rarely does anyone comment on the amount of time or pre-round preparation that the average tour player schedules before a round.

Having competed since the age of 7, pre-round practice and warm up is second nature. It's like breathing to me. I don't even think about it, I just always do it. That's the case with just about every professional golfer. Just as you would get to the soccer field, the football field or the tennis court to stretch, jog, practice your throws, hits or kicks, unbeknownst to the average player, you should do the same in golf.

Now grant it, not every golfer is out to compete, nor are they playing golf for a living, but the surprise on the face of some of my students when I suggest getting to the course early to warm up is nothing short of hilarious. I understand like all instructors, working adults and parents, that time is not always on our side, but even just a short 15-20 minutes can make an enormous difference in your score.

Schedule Enough Time for a Proper Pre Round Warm Up

The average amount of time most competitive golfers schedule for a pre-round warm up is an hour. Yes, an hour. The typical routine is to get to the course, apply sunscreen if you haven't already, roll a few putts, go stretch and hit balls for about 20 minutes, go back to the putting green for 15-20 minutes, make a restroom stop and then off to the starter's table 10 minutes before the tee time to check in. When you aren't taking the time to do this not only will you feel rushed and unprepared on the first tee, but you are essentially using the first few holes for your warm up. A lot of students will say that it takes them a while to warm up or get going without realizing they are using the first few holes as their practice range.

For most players it takes time for both their body and their brain to warm up as well as to key down from the drive to the course. Taking the time to stretch out properly, focus on breathing and get a good game plan does wonders for helping one get in the "zone." It's not all about finding the perfect technique before you tee off, it's warming up, establishing a plan and figuring out what is going to work for that day. Unfortunately we don't show up to the course with a perfect rhythm and perfect swing working every single day. What the warm up will tell you is exactly what you've got going on that day and what you're going to have to play with. There is no time to fix major swing errors, only to try to find a good rhythm and tempo that's working well on that particular day.

The Situation:

You don't have a pre-round warm up routine.

The Solution:

Try this routine or one similar to it and see if your scores don't start to come down. First, arrive at the course one hour before you tee off. Take time to apply sunscreen, load up on snacks and drinks and go to the restroom if you need to. Next I suggest stopping by the putting green before you go to the range and rolling a few long putts across the green to the fringe to get a taste for the speed of the greens. After this go to the range and begin with a stretching routine followed by a slow warm up from a chipping swing all the way up to a full swing. I also recommend starting with your wedge and slowly working your way up to the driver. Be sure not to get too caught up here in hitting perfect shots, just try to find a good tempo and see what kind of "tendencies" you are having for that day. Be sure to leave at least 15-20 minutes to go back to the putting green. Once on the green, again try some fringe putting to get the speed down. After you have figured that out start rolling in a bunch of 3 footers. Stay away from awkward distances (5-20 feet) as you don't want to get too discouraged right before a round. It's o.k. to roll a few sloping putts, too see how the greens roll, but don't putt pressure on your self to make any. In fact, just putting a tee on the green and putting towards that will help avoid any feelings of apprehension when on the course. If need be stop by the restroom again and head to the first tee. At this point you have done just about everything you can to prepare for your round so go have fun!

Maria Palozola

Maria Palozola is a member of the LPGA and has participated in multiple LPGA Tour events. She has provided instruction to thousands of students in the past 20+ years and has won multiple teaching awards from the LPGA, Golf Digest, and Golf Magazine including being ranked as one of the top 50 female instructors in the world.

Who is Maria Palozola?
- Top 50 LPGA Instructors in the World
- A Golf Digest Top 10 Teacher in Illinois
- A Golf Magazine Top Teacher in the Midwest
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