Find that feeling
When preparing for a big round, remember that you’re looking to warm-up and get a feel for your game. You’re not entering an intensive practice session where you’re attempting to make major swing changes.
With this in mind, feel free to work your way through the bag, hitting some shorter irons while building up to the longer clubs, all the while noting your shot shape on the day. If you’re hitting a wee fade, draw, or whatever it may be, play with it and work with it, rather than trying to fight or change it.
If time allows, play a few holes on the range, hitting tee shots and approach shots to aid your visualisation and prepare yourself for the course.
Dial-in your short game
It’s imperative that your short game isn’t neglected during your warm-up. Hitting some chips, pitches and bunker shots before your round will enhance your feel, while also providing valuable feedback as to how the ball is reacting on the greens (skidding, holding, releasing etc).
Make sure you don’t hit too many of the same types of shot, though. It’s a good idea to mix it up, so it replicates what you may find out on the course. I like to play ‘Par-18’, which is a simple warm-up game whereby you only get one attempt at nine different shots and then have to hole out. It’s good for dialling in your approach shots and applies the same pressures and feelings as you’re going to have on the course.
Start short, build belief
Good putting is a major part of a good score. Belief on the greens tends to infuse your whole game with self-assurance, relieving pressure on other elements, so make sure you leave time in your warm-up to get a feel for the pace and subtleties of the greens.
Starting with shorter putts and building confidence at holing-out is the ideal way to enter the round with renewed energy and enthusiasm. The ‘Compass Drill’ of holing out from three feet from north, south, east and west of the hole will allow you to gauge pace and breaks, while eliminating the element of surprise on the course, as you’ll already have tackled those testing ‘leaves’!
Try the 'Ladder Drill'
Edging back to a greater distance will allow you to master the pace of the greens. Hitting some putts with one hand will increase feel, while the ‘Ladder Drill’ will promote improved awareness and green-reading, and build confidence.
Using five balls, start three feet from the hole, then six feet, and work back to 15 feet, holing out on each occasion. If you miss, go back to the first ball until you can complete the exercise. This delivers distance control and the pressure of consequence - the same as you’ll experience out on the course.
Get a feel for your swing
When you get to the tee, don’t be afraid to have a few more practice swings. Why? One, they’ll loosen you up and help limit the risk of injury; and two, they’ll help to further engrain your ‘feel’ for your swing on the day, which should see you step up to the ball full of confidence.
Swinging two irons together provides extra weight that will allow you to swing slowly and smoothly, while enhancing awareness of the movement.
Start with short swings and carefully build up, only ever reaching 60% of your full pace, as this exercise is purely to get the body active and moving as opposed to creating any strain. Finally, return to your club of choice to reacquaint yourself with the weight and off you go!
Andrew Jowett is the Head PGA Professional at Gleneagles. For lessons, call Andrew on 01764 69434. You can also follow him on Twitter @andyj1504.