5 Step Golf Warm-Up Routine Without Going to the Driving Range

You’re running late and have only 15 minutes to get ready before you tee off.

You don’t have time to get to the driving range to hit a few golf shots and the practice net beside the first tee is unusable.

Or it may be that there is no driving range or practice net available at, or on the way to, your golf club.

Whatever the reason you can’t hit some balls prior to your round you can still effectively warm-up without going to the driving range.

And an efficient warm-up routine is vital if you want to play well and not feel that you’ll wreck your round straight away on the first few holes by virtue of not being properly warmed up.

So to make sure sure that doesn’t happen here’s a 5 step warm up routine which doesn’t require you to get to the driving range.

Plan to Use All The Time You Have

Unless you are entirely new to the game you have been through the process of trying to warm for dozens if not hundreds of rounds of golf by now.

So it makes sense that you should have a couple of warm up routines planned out by this point.

Because if you have your warm-up routines planned then you shouldn’t really need to worry about your ‘lack of a warm-up’ being the problem over the first few holes.

3-time major winner Jordan Speith for example has two routines – one that takes half an hour and another that is an hour and 15 minutes long.

Now I know Jordan Speith has access to all the practice facilities he wants prior to each time he plays.

But the point is that he has planned them in advance and knows exactly what he is going to do before he even sets foot on the course.

That option is clearly available to you also irrespective of whether you have access to a driving range or not.

“From what I can see, it seems a lot of amateurs would benefit from some structure to their warm-ups …. The thing about warming up properly is that it doesn’t require any extra skill, only the discipline to commit to it.”

Jordan Speith, 3-time major champion

And if you’re not going to have time to hit the range every time before you play – and let’s face it if you’ve played golf for any length of time that will happen far more often than you ideally want it to – or just don’t have access to one or a practice net you can build that into your plan.

If you need to put tape on a dodgy finger as Tiger does, or a knee support, every time before you plan again you can put that step into your plan.

The first step in coming up with any warm-up routine is therefore to plan one out based on the facilities available and the time you will have available even if it’s only 10 minutes.

A good warm-up is not determined by your standard as a golfer which means we are all perfectly able to get warmed up properly.

And it’s especially during the times you are in a rush or think you don’t enough time that you will take comfort in your plan as you know it will give you decent warm-up.

Set Your Goals and Break Up The Round

When it comes to golf warm-ups it always intrigues me how much amateur players talk about how important it is they warm up physically but rarely concern themselves with getting their mind ready.

I don’t know about you but golf has messed with my mind a hundred times more than it has with my body over the years.

And yet if we haven’t managed to smash 10 drivers on the driving range before we head to the first tee it is the lack of a proper ‘warm-up’ that takes the blame for those first shocking few holes.

Rather than the fact that in the time we did have we did not spend more than a cursory 10-15 seconds glancing at the scorecard to work out what we’re aiming for and how we can break up the round to help.

So the next step of your warm up routine should be to set some goals for the day.

What’s your target score for the round based on the conditions? What is the one swing thought you’re going to have for the day?

Most average golfers with only a few minutes to warm up will rush to the range and try to hit balls fast. This may loosen up the grease, but it can also ruin your tempo for the day and perhaps implant negative thoughts . Some average golfers think they are wiser because they rush to the putting green instead, and try to hit as many putts as possible before being called to the tee .To warm up in a hurry and arouse your sense of feel, use the time you have to stroke a few careful pitch shots. This will put your mind on the business at hand – which is to play golf.”

Harvey Penick’s Little Red Book: Lessons and Teachings from a Lifetime in Golf

What’s your target ‘pre-shot routine’ which you are going to warm up with and use throughout your round?

Setting your goals for the round as part of your warm-up routine will give you comfort and a feeling of more control over what the outcome of the day will be.

And to help you achieve those goals think about breaking things up also.

Split up the round into 6 groups of 3 holes and set a target score for each group.

And if you do have a bad three holes because you are still convinced the lack of a driving range was to blame for your poor warm up and poor start then you’ve got a ready made mechanism to start again on the 4th.

A broken up round is far less overwhelming and let’s you build your score and reset when you need to throughout the day.

Visualise your Round and Be Positive

The 3rd step in any warm-up routine which doesn’t involve going to a driving range is to visualise your round.

The fact that you can’t get to the range to hit a few balls should not affect the necessary step to strategise your round and visualise how you are going to get round the golf course.

It’s vital your warm-up includes you thinking about how you are going to play different holes, especially the first if you are always concerned your lack of access to a driving range leaves you vulnerable to a bad start.

If the first hole is a par 3 will you hit an extra club so your mind is relaxed because you know that you don’t have to hit it 100% perfectly to reach the green?

Or if the 2nd hole is always the one where you seem to rack up a huge number what’s your strategy for playing it today.

If it’s a long par 4 are you just going to play it as a par 5 to make sure you play within your comfort zone?

Visualising how you are going to hit every shot is key throughout your round and it’s especially important to clearly visualise your 1st tee shot during your warm up.

Jack Nicklaus has talked about visualising he was at the movies and seeing on the big screen how he was going to play his next shot and how it would look flying through the air, how it would land and where it would end up.

Visualisation is a tremendous tool when used correctly but it requires you also to stay positive!

All of us think about our golf shots and talk to ourselves about them but when it comes to visualisation is it very often based on negative thoughts rather than positive ones.

If we’re honest with ourselves how often have we thought the following in our heads:

  • “Whatever you do, don’t hit it into the trees on the left.”
  • “Be careful with this one as there’s out of bounds all the way down the right hand side.”
  • “You always hit it into the deep rough at this hole and mess it up.”

It’s a plus you are thinking about the shot in advance. The only problem is you are telling your brain all the wrong things!

Because visualisation can be so powerful it will lead you to do exactly what you told your brain to do.

So if you are telling your brain about a set of trees on the left of the fairway it will think that’s the target and tell your body that’s the way to go.

Think about it this way. When was the last time you got into the car and said to yourself – “Don’t drive on the wrong side of the road when you pull out of the driveway” or “Don’t hit that tree on the side of the road.”

You obviously don’t as without thinking too much about it you will be positively visualising yourself driving without any problems.

So make sure you stay positive with your visualisation as part of your warm up and if you get it right there is no reason why not being able to get to a driving range for part of your warm up need be a major problem.

Do Simple Dynamic Stretches

You will be probably be wondering by this point when do you actually start ‘warming up’!

As all we have talked about so far hasn’t involved any physical activity.

That is deliberate however.

Your warm-up, irrespective of whether you can get to a driving range or not, should be as much mental as physical if not more so.

However we obviously want to warm up the body too and if we are having to warm up without getting to the driving range we can often feel we’re never going to be able get the body moving properly before we start the round.

Stretching is part of the answer but I am not meaning just any type of stretching.

‘Dynamic’ stretches are particularly good when it comes to warming up and these should include:

  • A ‘hip flexor’ stretch – unlock your hips and activate your glutes by for example putting one leg up on a golf cart or step and with your hands up your hips bring your hips forward and squeeze your glutes.
  • Chest stretch – holding on to a golf cart or a stable pillar or pole with one hand keep your legs facing the same way and simply rotate your upper body away and do that for 10 reps for each hand.
  • Lateral stretch – again holding on to something sit down and stick your backside out for 10 dynamic rep stretches. This stretch is aimed to get you ready for a smooth backswing and better rotation.

Before playing golf we want to focus on the main muscles that we are going to use.

The golf swing is an unnatural and complex series of muscle movements that need to be combined together and timed well repeatedly so it is important that you don’t take your body by surprise straight away with a big lunge with the driver on the first tee.

Research has also shown the lower back to be the most commonly injured body region by golfers.

Strains were also identified to be the most frequent type of injury which is hardly surprising given the golf swing uses at least 17 muscle groups.

So any warm-up routine should focus on the hips, glutes and neck / upper spine particularly to make sure they are prepared in some small way for making a series of golf swings.

And to demonstrate some more of the sort of ‘stretches’ you should be doing I am going to turn Miguel Angel Jimenez.

A 4-time European Ryder Cup player he is not only famous for his cigar smoking on the course but also his warm-up routines.

While many people often have a chuckle when he does them on the range it is important to note that in 2020 Jimenez set a new record for European Tour tournament starts when making his 707th appearance.

Having started his professional career all the way back in 1982 he’s clearly doing something right with his warm-up stretching routine!

Pitch & Putt to Find Your Tempo & Your Stroke

Every pro player in the world hits balls on the driving range before they play any golf tournament.

That is a fact.

However it does not mean that you cannot warm up effectively without going to the driving range.

Remember the goal of a warm-up is not to improve your game in some way – it is not a practice session!

From a physical point of view it is simply to find your tempo and that can be done through doing some chipping.

Not many golf clubs allow you to chip onto the putting green but that doesn’t stop you find some rhythm and tempo.

Even if you have no area at all to pitch you can simply grab your wedge and just swing the club back and forth with the strength you would need to hit it 15-20 yards.

Keep rocking your wedge in a ‘pendulum’ motion back and forth.

Once you’ve got the feeling of kissing the turf with that short swing gradually increase the length of the swing until you are swinging the club fully with your wedge.

If you can find 15-20 yards of space to actually hit a few pitch shots that far then even better.

Stick a tee in the ground and aim at that to get your mind used to focusing in on a target.

Remember the results of any chip shots you do hit aren’t terribly important – you are just trying to get a feel for the rhythm and tempo of your swing.

And in a way it may actually be an advantage for some amateur players not to have access to a driving range for their warm-up if there isn’t one or they don’t have time.

Because the temptation to just step up and crash 40-50 balls into the distance without any thought or attempting to cure a swing fault can sometimes be too great.

As Jordan Speith says “.. not only is it physically taxing, it can wash away the good feel and tempo you’ve presumably just established with your wedges.”

After a few chip shots have found your tempo for the day it’s time for the putting green.

Once you hit the putting green though don’t then rush to knock in five 3-ft putts which results in you missing them all and blowing your confidence on the greens for the day.

The goal here is simply to judge the speed of the greens and warm up your putting stroke.

So hit a few long putts to begin with – 25ft or longer – and start dialling in your distance control.

You may not always be able to gauge green speed if the putting green is not representative of the course but you can find your stroke at the very least.

You don’t even need to be putting at a hole at this point either. Just knock a ball out there and then hit another one to it.

Then once you’ve hit a few long ones gather your balls around a hole and try to knock in a few short ones from 2 or 3ft to give yourself some confidence and let you start to visualise the ball dropping into the hole.

Once that’s done you are ready to head to the first tee confident you have warmed up as effectively as you can because you’ve followed your regular plan.

Final Thought

You’ll notice alot of these steps actually have nothing to do with whether you have access to a driving range or not.

Whatever facilities you have available to you before you play you should have a short and long warm-up routine in your armoury.

And the great news is that you can keep refining your warm up routine every time you play if you feel it can be improved to help you start better.

It’s not rocket science and a lack of time and lack of access to a driving range need not be the disaster you possibly think it is.

Remember Rory McIroy at the 2012 Ryder Cup?

After a mix up he arrived just 10 minutes before his singles match with Keegan Bradley but still managed to win 2&1.

And what did his short warm-up involve – the setting of some goals (he aimed to be all square or only one down after 6 holes), hitting a few chips and rolling a few putts on the practice green!

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