Strategic Warm-up

I think it’s fair to say that most people warm-up at Nehoiden by getting out of the car and walking to the first tee. Whatever the reason for that (Top Three that I have Heard: the range is inconvenient, saving energy for the round, pressed for time – all, one might note, which are choices not happenstance, but that is a tip for another day). Suffice to say, not ideal but nevertheless real. Given that reality, I’d like to suggest a three-step warm-up that can be done in your living room and that does not require hitting balls:

1. Jumping jacks and stretching. It never ceases to amaze me that people start their golf day with a full swing with a driver off the first tee, yet I would venture to guess that more than half of the golfers at Nehoiden do exactly that. First off, it’s downright dangerous to the back and could bring one’s summer fun to an immediate end. Better to wake up the muscles before the violent rotational motion required for a driver. Easy peasy – 20 jumping jacks to get things started. Then, sit on the floor, legs outstretched and try to touch your toes. The hamstrings take a beating in golf – we were not built to stand bent over in the address position – the more flexible your hamstrings, the less stress you put on your back. I feel like the tin man in Wizard of Oz when I don’t stretch – bring on the oil can!

2. Strategize. Golf is mostly a mental game, so preparing mentally can be magical. When I go to a professional tournament, I love to go on Wednesday to watch the practice round. It is there that you see players develop and fine-tune the strategy to attack the golf course. For example on the 2 nd hole at Nehoiden, I prefer to drive the ball down the right side, which allows me to go for the green in two. If I hit a poor drive and end up on the left side, I need to navigate the trees and it is often unwise that I try to get there in two. Hence the decision – to what distance do I want to lay up? For me, I don’t want to be at the end of the fairway – it’s often a partial swing from a downhill lie, if I mis-judge the shot to the end of the fairway, I can be in heavy rough. I want 80 yards in whenever I can get it. Smooth gap wedge. Every golfer should have a favorite full swing shot with a short iron to use as an approach shot into the green – if you don’t know yours, make a point to learn it this summer.

3. Before you tee off, if you can’t hit balls, stand at the first tee and create your ideal impact position. Weight on the front foot, hands ahead of clubhead, head behind the ball, arms extended. Impact is really all that matters in the golf swing, so take 30 seconds to remind your body what you are trying to do as you come through the ball.

Just remember: any warm-up is better than no warm-up.