Contributed by Matt Keel

This holiday season, give yourself a gift that will help you play your best golf.   Before each round, give yourself adequate time to warm up correctly.  Since you are already investing your time and money to play a round of golf, why not set yourself up to play your best and enjoy your round?  A consistent warm-up routine will encourage consistent play.  An effective warm-up routine should be around forty- five minutes and work from small to big.

Begin your warm-up routine with the smallest swing…putting.  When putting before your round, the purpose should be more about learning the speed of the greens rather than working on your stroke.  When you arrive at the putting green, choose a hole and begin with five foot putts.  Practice five foot putts from different locations around the hole, so you will be able to learn the speed of the green for uphill, downhill and side hill putts.  Next, repeat the process from ten feet and also fifteen feet.  Finally, putt a few lag putts to check your distance control.

Once you’ve finished putting, move to chipping.   When chipping during your warm-up, you want to be checking the firmness of the green and also the different types of lies around the green.  Hopefully the chipping green will be a good representation of the greens on the course, but it’s not always the case at some courses.  Begin by making easy chip shots and notice the firmness of the greens.  Softer greens will cause the ball to “check up” more so your chip shot will have less roll.  Firmer greens will allow the ball to “release” and roll out more.  Once you have determined the firmness of the green, make some chip shots from lies where the grass has different lengths.  When chipping out of different length grass, notice how your club reacts to grass through impact.

After chipping, it’s time to go to the driving range.  When warming up on the range, try to keep your swing thoughts to a minimum and focus more on loosening up and tempo.  Since we want to work from small to big, begin hitting with your wedge.  After warming up with your wedge, begin working through the rest of your irons.  You will not need to use every iron during your warm-up, so use either your odd numbered irons or your even numbered irons.  After your irons, try a hybrid, fairway wood and driver in that order.  Once you are finished hitting your driver, you’ll be ready for the course.

Our favorite rounds of golf are usually the rounds we play the best.  Taking some time to develop a consistent warm-up routine will help you on your way to better golf.  Remember to begin with the smallest swing and work up to the largest swing.  Also, by knowing the purpose for each part of your warm-up, you will be setting yourself up for success.  Have a great golf season!

Wildfire Golf Academy is offering holiday lesson packages that make great gifts for yourself or the golfer in your family.  Contact Matt Keel for more information.  Matt Keel is the Director of Instruction at Wildfire Golf Club located at the JW Marriott at Desert Ridge Resort and Spa.  For any questions or information about golf lessons or programs, email Matt at Mattkeel@pga.com or visit www.Mattkeelgolf.com.