When we’re asked what a golfer can do to lower their scores, we respond with “What do you do when you get to the course?” Make no mistake, what happens in those precious minutes before tee off matters. If you do these ten things before a round of golf, you will lower your handicap instantly.
1. Arrive Early
If you want to assure a terrible round then show up ten minutes before your tee time. Yes, there are times when this is unavoidable, but know that you’ve wasted half of your green fee so that you can warm up over the front nine. The rule we suggest is to arrive 45 minutes before your tee time. This gives you plenty of opportunity to take care of the pro shop requirements and fit in 30 minutes of preparation.
2. Stretch Before A Round Of Golf
After you pay your green fee and get your bucket of balls from the pro shop, it’s time to stretch. Primary rule of thumb for efficient stretching is to focus on your lower half. Remember, strength on the golf swing comes from the waist down. Don’t be the man/woman out there standing still while twisting your back and holding your elbow against your chest. You are doing nothing to ready your body for your round. That no-no is called a “static” stretch. You want to do “dynamic” stretches such as overhead squats, side bends and alternating toe touches. These stretches engage more of the muscles you need during your round.
3. Start Slow, Start Backwards
First thing to do when you get to the range is take five balls from the bucket and put them off to the side. (You’ll need them in a minute.) The next thing is to grab a wedge from your bag. The worst mistake amateurs make is starting your warmup with the driver. Don’t do it. Your body isn’t ready for the torque as most want to immediately see how far they can crush it. Instead be smart and hit seven-to-ten balls with the wedge you are most comfortable hitting. Focus on tempo and contact. Then grab an 8 or 9-iron and repeat. Just go 75% on these swings stopping your backswing once your arm is parallel to your shoulder line.
4. Longer the Club, Less the Swings
As you begin to work through your bag take less swings with each following club. Only hit three to five 5-irons. Take your hybrid and do the same. When it comes to the driver don’t overdo it. Five smooth swings focusing on contact and completing follow-through.
5. Pay Attention To Flight
This cannot be stressed this enough: As you hit balls on the range, watch the flight of your shots. Most amateurs bring different swings each time to the course. If you are fading the golf ball on most range shots then prepare yourself for that shot on the course. If you are dissatisfied because your were hitting draws the week before, then the worst thing you can do is immediately try to correct your swing. It is too late for that. Focus solely on contact and tempo. If you are making solid contact with the golf ball then you can still be successful on the scorecard.
6. Start Short
Do you still have those five range balls? Good, keep holding onto them, we’ll need them in a second. But first head over to the practice green. Take your putter and a few of the balls you plan to play your round with. Start with ten one-meter putts. Work on a short backswing and smooth finish through the golf ball. Keep your head still and don’t follow the ball. Then move to two meters and hit ten more. After those twenty putts, hit several at various distances. Three, five and seven meters are important practice for upcoming birdie chances!
7. Finish Long
The final thing you should do on the green is practice chipping. Take your 7-iron and place a few balls in the first cut off the green. Using your putter grip take that putting stroke you just worked with and chip a dozen balls to alternating distances. This continues to help you get a feel for the greens and for necessary landing areas for long chips.
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8. Clean Up Your Mind
Now, take those last five range balls and hit the shot that nagged you the first time through. Didn’t like what you did with your driver? Then tee up a couple more. Go slow and concentrate on one specific thing. For example, keeping a solid flex on your back knee so you can complete a full turn away from the golf ball. But here’s the secret: After you hit one on the screws, take that swing to the tee. Give the other range balls away. Focus on that feeling. Confidence carries from the range to the first tee, I assure you.
9. Hydrate Your Front Nine
This tip is simple. Take a 500ml bottle of water and drink it completely over the last five minutes before you tee off. Do this again at the turn. If its a hot day, then try to do this every four to six holes. Studies have shown that dehydrated golfers were far more likely to hit short and offline shots than those who had stay hydrated throughout a round.
10. Check Your Bag
Make sure that you have everything you’ll need for your round. No one likes to play with the guy that has to beg for tees or needs to borrow a ball three holes in to a round. Make sure you soak the lower half of your towel with water so that you clean your clubs after every shot. Clean grooves are essential for backspin. Ball markers and divot repair tools are also must haves. Give the courtesy of a repaired green to the next golfer.
If you take these ten steps seriously, you should feel loose, warm and ready to attack the golf course. Remember not to try to do too many things at once when preparing for your round. A proper warmup is deliberate and segmented. Focus on the shot in front of you and nothing more. I wish you luck and a round full of birdies!