Golf Talk With Greg Holman – #120

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The last four golf blogs have been devoted to the teenage golfer and how to break 39 on area courses. Today’s blog is particularly for seniors but players from any age could benefit from it. It’s all about warming up properly.

I remember the days when I could get up on the first tee and just let it rip without as much as a practice swing. As anyone over 40 knows, the muscles don’t work that way anymore. Very rarely is my first drive of the day or last tee shot of the day my best. Everybody knows how important stretching is and toe touches to loosen the back and arm muscles are, and it all starts on the driving range.

I like to start with a wedge and just hit some 50 yard shots and then move up the bag club by club, so maybe about 5 shots with each club. You don’t need that many balls to warm up with if you are going to play afterward because you don’t want to use up your energy or wear a blister on your fingers. I find that 15 or 20 balls is about the right number for me. Ten short irons, five long irons and five drives, then 15 minutes on the putting green. I see players before a tournament hitting 30 balls full out with a driver and then they wonder why their driver lets them down halfway through their round. Even younger to middle age golfers have to pace themselves.

The next part of the game is the mental aspect of the game. Just like the driving range don’t feel like you have to pull out the big stick on the first tee. I’ve described the first hole at Arthur Hills in Mexico before. A big tee shot is not required. The emphasis is on accuracy. Most courses do not start out with a long par 4 for that reason. So unless you plan to play Augusta National, use some common sense and make sure your first tee shot is in play.

As I build confidence with my driver during the round, I’ll work on making a full swing by taking the club back until it is parallel to the ground at the top. Only a few extremely loose or gifted golfers can employ the John Daly backswing. I don’t condone ever swinging past parallel. Jack Nicklaus said he typically would swing about 80-85% on a full drive and would save the 100% for a par 5 or extremely long par 4. I like that philosophy. Of course I’ve always been a Nicklaus fan so in my mind he can do no wrong. By the time you get to the 18th hole, your body will tell you whether or not you should let the last drive of the day rip. Again, it’s not always necessary to go full tilt.

I loved the 12th hole at my home course in Rolla. It was 330 yards, par 4 with a 90 degree dogleg left. The fairway ran out at about 240. It was a perfect 4 wood for me. If I drew it it was a bonus. (I don’t carry a 4 wood anymore).

Warm up, then hit ’em straight!

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