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Warm-up is not practice, it's warm-up

One of the best ways to make the walk from the practice tee, to the first tee, with a confident stride and a trusting swing, is to develop a warm-up process that will simulate your on course play. Take a close look at Roger Tambellini’s warm-up, as you consider your own.

At the Nationwide Tournament, outside of Salt Lake City this week, I observed Roger Tambellini’s pre-competition warm-up. A warm-up like this is well worth considering. Give your self-ample time. Roger likes one hour, but you could squeeze the important details into a shorter time period.

Start with putting: To simulate competition one ball putting is in order. Using your full pre-putt routine, putt around the hole – select a hole with a modest break and execute 3-6 footers. Then increase the distance. Now hit some longer putts to sense the speed you’ll need on the course. (We’re hopeful that the practice green speed is the same.) 10 minutes max. If you’re fortunate enough to have a chipping green, too, hits some greenside chips to various distances and try to hole every rep.

On to the range: Start by swinging the club a few times paying attention to your weight distribution, the rhythm and tempo of your swing.

6 short distance wedges to a variety of targets. When he does this, as he does with 90 % of his swings on the range, Roger will use his full pre-shot routine. He stands behind the ball, walks into his address position, takes his looks and waggles (2) and swings.

Next, Roger moves up his clubs starting with an 8 or 9. Usually, he alternates each day even and odds up to the 3W. He’ll hit about 5 shots with each club ending with the driver. He moves targets around if the range allows – Willow Creek’s short range and the player’s great length allowed only drivers hit to the left side.

Last, he’ll hit 6-8 wedges with a new distance and direction on each swing.

Notice that all Roger’s swings simulated on course play. That makes sense. Warm-up is not the place to reinvent your swing, but a place to find your rhythm and tempo, locate targets, and activate the visual and kinesthetic part of your imagination.

Roger’s alignment and ball position are well learned, but he does give attention to his set-up. You might want to spend longer there – be sure that you’re aimed were you want to aim – and more time paying attention to your rhythm and tempo.

Within the one hour Roger plans for warm-up, and the full attention he gives to each shot, he may hit fewer balls then you do with rapid-fire 7 irons and drivers. It’s not the number of balls you hit during warm-up it’s the quality of each repetition that counts the most.
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