Developing Your Pre-Round Routine
Golf preparation is hugely important. Hopefully you have a pre-shot routine for golf, but what about a pre-game routine? What you do in the 30 minutes before you hit that first ball can play a huge role in how your golf round will transpire.
Let me give you an example… I have friend who I play golf with every 6 weeks or so. Invariably he arrives just at tee-time, breathless, apologising for being late, in a rush, his head full of the stuff he has been dealing with earlier in the day. He then spends a few seconds trying to be present, has a couple of quick swings with his driver before (8 times out of 10) hooking the ball, cursing himself and swearing that he’ll be better organised next time. Phew, it’s tiring even reading that!
The thing is that this guy is a better golfer than me. When his head is clear and his body relaxed he has great distance and a nice touch around the greens. But given how he generally turns up I know that I am pretty much guaranteed to win the first two or three holes.
This is a good example of how not to prepare for your round. No matter the nature of your round, social or competitive, you want to give yourself then best chance of shooting a low score, and consistent golf preparation can help you.
Most golfers mistakenly think that the game begins on the first tee, whereas I believe that it begins in the half hour before a ball is even hit. In your golf preparation you need to consider two main areas; mental preparation for golf, and preparation of your body.
Golf Preparation – preparing your body for golf
Stretching and warming up before any form of athletic activity pays dividends in performance terms and in helping reduce the risk of injury.
Although golf is not the most physically demanding of games it does require balance, stamina and the ability to deliver a large amount of energy in a split second. The potential for pulling a muscle or straining yourself is high if you have not prepared your body for what it is to come.
If you have a regular fitness or stretching routine then you give yourself a great chance of playing your best golf. I particularly recommend yoga because it develops your body in a balanced manner, and helps you build-up your energetic reserves. It also helps keep your mind calm.
But even if you don’t have a regular regime then stretching before your golf game is important. Make sure you incorporate some twists, squats, and that you gently rotate your wrists, knees and ankles. Slowly swinging with three irons together is a great way to stretch and loosen up.
Proper nutrition is important for good golf. Have you eaten enough food? Have you eaten too much? Having a big meal in the clubhouse before your golf round is a big no-no. Have something light that will give you sustained energy release, and take some snacks with you for on the course.
Regularly snacking between shots and holes on nuts, seeds and dried fruits is a good choice for keeping your body and mind fuelled. It helps sustain your energy levels and maintain mental clarity.
Being properly hydrated and staying that way is essential. Give the beer cart a miss, and stick to water with a pinch of sea-salt, or make your own sports drink by mixing 500ml of fresh orange juice with 500ml of water and a pinch of sea salt. Avoid commercial products like Gatorade as they tend to be full of stuff you shouldn’t have in your body.
Make sure you drink regularly throughout your round. Remember, if you feel thirsty you’ve already left it too long to have a drink, so avoid thirst and keep drinking. You could make a make a habit of drinking a little before every tee shot.
Golf Preparation – Mental preparation for golf
Sitting in the locker-room or in your car before your round for 10 or 15 minutes and meditating is probably the best thing you can do for golf preparation. Your mind will settle down, tension will leave your body and you will give yourself a great chance to play inventive and creative golf.
You want to be able to stand on the first tee and have the shot you are about to play be clear in your mind. And you want to be confident that you can achieve it. Many great golfers play an entire round in their head before they play it for real. They visualize themselves playing every shot, they see the flight of the ball, how it lands, what club they will pick etc. in great detail.
Visualization is a great mental tool for golfers. So in the few minutes before your round see yourself playing the first hole, and see those shots being played perfectly. However be realistic. If you hit your driver 230 yards, don’t visualize yourself getting it onto the green 320 yards away. Play the actual game you know you can play.
See the hole backwards – imagine you’re standing next to the flag. What would be the best way to get there? If you can get to the green in two then where would be the best place to play that second shot from? Hitting the ball as far as you can isn’t always the best call. Sometimes laying-up a little can help us take a hazard out of the equation and give us a longer, but easier, second shot. So, perhaps taking a 3 iron rather than a driver may be a more intelligent choice. Allow your natural creativity to come through, and begin to trust your intuition.
By the time you stand on the first tee you should be clear on what your task is and what you are about to do.
Before hitting your ball practice the exact shot you are about to play. Don’t just swing aimlessly. You should already be stretched and loose, so swing the shot you are about to play. Try it a couple of times with your eyes closed to really get a feel of it.
Now hit the shot and enjoy the rest of your round. Thanks to your golf preparation you have given yourself a great opportunity to play the best golf you can today.