It's important to get your body ready for a round of golf. It's equally critical to warm up mentally before teeing off. An ill-prepared mind can quickly undermine an in-tune swing.

Parts of the physical and mental warmups go hand in hand, as time spent on the driving range and practice green should be devoted to both elements. Here are a few tips for getting into the proper frame of mind:

  • Take care of business and leave it behind: Conducting or even thinking about business on the course is hugely distracting. If you're so busy you can't set aside a few hours for non-work activity, then stay at the office. Otherwise, shut down the cell phone and forget about tomorrow's meeting. For now, golf is the only item on your agenda.
  • Don't rush: Zipping out of the house or office, speeding to the course and leaving skid marks on your way to the first tee spells doom. Arrange your schedule to arrive at the course with ample time to check in, get your gear ready, hit some range balls and putts, then saunter to the first tee.
  • Practice visualization: On the range, don't hit random clubs to loosen up. Approach each ball like you will on the course, visualizing the desired result and utilizing your pre-shot routine. To that end, rehearse specific shots you'll face – the day's opening drive or a difficult approach, for instance – and play them one at a time. Do the same thing while putting and chipping.
  • Choose a goal to focus on: Think of something you want to accomplish on every single swing, like maintaining your spine angle or making a full shoulder turn. This can be your swing key for the day, something to assess after each shot. Don't pick a goal that's results-oriented, like a target score for the full round or a series of holes. Your focus should be on process, not outcome.

How to Warm Up Your Mind for a Round of Golf

How to Warm Up Your Mind for a Round of Golf

It is not hard to find golf instruction on the topic of warming up before a round. Plenty of articles have been written about the best ways to use the driving range and putting green to prepare your body for play. Of course, most of those instructional pieces focus on your body alone – few of them venture into the area of preparing your mind for the challenge ahead. Golf is just as much physical as it is mental, which is why you need to prepare your mind much as you prepare your body before walking to the first tee.

As you can guess from the title, this article is all about how you can get your mind in a 'good place' before you start a round. This might not seem like a big deal initially, but warming up your mind before a round can pay major dividends when you are able to get off to a good start. Most golfers work their way into a round, making a few silly mistakes early on before really hitting their stride. Don't let that be the case with your game. You only have 18 holes to play, and each one of them is important. If you make a couple of costly errors early in the day, there may not be enough time to get your score back on track.

One of the common mistakes made by amateur golfers with regard to warming up in general is thinking that it isn't that important because they aren't professional players. Since the typical golfer isn't playing for high stakes during a weekend round, that player doesn't feel like it is necessary to warm up properly. Unfortunately, this is something that holds many players back from reaching their potential. If you want to play better golf, no matter what kind of golfer you are, dedicating yourself to a quality mental and physical warm up is a good idea.

Before we start discussing how you can warm up mentally for your rounds, it should be noted that good golfers tend to arrive at the course well in advance of their tee times. You don't want to have to rush from the pro shop out to the first tee, as you are going to need a little bit of time available to warm up correctly. It might not always be possible to get to the course with plenty of time to spare, but do your best to arrive at a time which lets you relax and prepare properly for the round ahead.

All of the content below is written from the perspective of a right-handed golfer. If you play left-handed, please take a moment to reverse the directions as necessary.

Getting Started the Night Before

Getting Started the Night Before

You can actually begin to warm up your mind for a round of golf before the day of the round even arrives. Try to carve out some time the night before your round to prepare yourself from a course management perspective. By planning out your expected path around the course the day before you actually play, you will find that your on-course decision making becomes significantly easier.

So what can you do the night before to make sure you are ready to play the next day? Writing out a course management plan from the first tee to the last green is a great idea. This won't take as long as you might think, and it will engage your mind in thinking about the challenges that this particular course presents. Rather than being surprised or caught off-guard by what the course throws your way, you can be fully prepared and ready to play your best.

The tips below should help you in the process of creating an on-course plan for your next round.

  • Write your plan the old-fashioned way. Sure, you could type of a strategy plan on your computer, or even enter it into your phone, but that would take something away from the spirit of this exercise. You want this to be a somewhat slow process, so you can think through your strategies as you go. For that reason, we recommend doing this with a piece of paper and a pen or pencil. Mark out a spot for each of the 18 holes on your sheet, and leave room to make notes. You can fold up this sheet and keep it in your bag (or in your pocket) as you play.
  • Use the internet to your advantage. There is a wealth of information found on the internet about any topic under the sun, and that certainly includes golf. Start by heading directly to the website of the course you will be playing. That site is likely to have a scorecard, a course map, and even maybe some notes about playing each hole. Also, there should be plenty of pictures for you to browse. Away from the course's own website, you can also gather information through review sites, forums, blogs, etc. Once you start searching, you will be amazed to find how much you can learn about nearly any course.
  • Determine the overall design and 'feel' of the course. If you are playing a course for the first time, one of the things you can learn from your online research is the style of the course as a whole. Is it tree-lined with plenty of deep bunkers along the way? Or is it wide open, giving you plenty of chances to test out your driver? Knowing what you will face on the course in advance is helpful because you can gear your physical warm up process to the demands of the course. For instance, if it is a short and tight layout, you can minimize the amount of time you warm up with your driver, knowing it won't be needed often during the day.
  • Pick a club for each tee. One of the keys to this mental preparation process is selecting a club that you are going to use for each tee shot. This should always be considered subject to change, of course, as you can't perfectly predict things like weather conditions and tee placements. However, you should have a preliminary idea of which clubs you will use off of which tees, and you can adjust from there as necessary. Doing this the night before will give your round some structure and direction, allowing your mind to focus more easily on the course. Just like anything else you do in life, preparation is key for success on the links.
  • Highlight dangerous holes. As you review the course, it shouldn't be hard to pick out a few holes which appear to be more difficult than the rest. A tough hole may come in the form of a long par four, a par three which is guarded by water, or an uphill par five with out of bounds stakes on both sides. Whatever the case, you want to know where these holes are in advance so you can have a plan to attack them successfully. In most cases, it will be best to play the tough holes on the course with a conservative game plan, limiting the damage they can do to your scorecard. Save your aggressive shots for the holes where there is less trouble to avoid.

While the list above might seem like a lot to think about, it should actually only take 15 minutes or so to work through your plan. That time will be even less if you have played the course previously. With some of your prep work done, you will feel nicely prepared for your round when you head out to the course the next day.

Pre-Round Warm Up Techniques for Clear Thinking

Pre-Round Warm Up Techniques for Clear Thinking

Every golfer warms up for a round in his or her own way. Some players like to hit a lot of golf balls on the driving range to find a rhythm, while others prefer to spend most of their time putting and chipping. The way you prepare physically is up to you, as you have probably found what works best based on your game and personality. However, you may not have previously thought about how your physical warm up plays into the way you warm up mentally.

For starters, one of the best things you can do with regard to your mental warm up is to give yourself some space to think prior to the round. If you are constantly chatting with friends prior to teeing off, you will never have a chance to get your mind focused on the round. You will be thinking about whatever it is that you and your friends happen to be thinking about, and then you will suddenly be on the first tee standing over your ball. Needless to say, this is less than ideal.

Instead, try making some time during your warm up where you can be by yourself. This may be accomplished by heading to the putting green while others are hitting balls, or maybe venturing over to a practice bunker where it is nice and quiet. Whatever the case, get some space so you can relax, focus on the task at hand, and prepare to have a great day. Many people in day to day life use their few minutes in the shower in the morning to relax and prepare for work or whatever it is they have to do – this concept applies just the same to your golf warm up. Find a few minutes during the warm up for a mental break where you can be by yourself and your game will benefit greatly in the end.

Another method you can use to prepare your mind for the round ahead might surprise you – get your mind off of golf for a few minutes. You have probably been thinking about your round while you were driving to the course, and you probably kept thinking about it while hitting some putts and shots on the range. If you have time, get your mind away from golf for a few minutes before actually getting started. You could walk into the restaurant to grab a bite to eat while watching something on the TV, or you could sit down and check messages on your phone. However you choose to get away for a few minutes, you should return feeling ready to take on the course for a full 18 holes.

In the end, getting your mind ready to play good golf is a lot like getting your body ready to play – you need to find the plan that works for you. Everyone is different in the way they approach the game, so a method that works beautifully for you might not work at all for another golf. For instance, some players do best when they show up at the course more than an hour before they tee off, while others like to arrive with just 20 or 30 minutes to spare. There is no right or wrong necessarily, so experiment with different plans and settle on the one which yields the best results.

Staying in the Right Frame of Mind on the Course

Staying in the Right Frame of Mind on the Course

Preparing your mind for a round of golf is a good idea – but it is only helpful if you remain in the proper frame of mind throughout the day. If you are pulled out of your focus within the first couple of holes, you will have wasted your time and you will struggle to play well. So how do you manage to think properly for more than four hours of what is sure to be an up and down experience? The tips below should help.

  • Focus on what you can control. One of the biggest errors made by amateur golfers is focusing on things which are outside of their control. For instance, you can't control the wind, so it does no good to get frustrated by the fact that it is blowing quite strongly. Sure, you need to pay attention to the wind in order to plan your shots, but getting made about it is only going to take you out of the right frame of mind. The same thing can be said for slow play. If the group in front of you is playing slowly, it might be tempting to get frustrated and lose your cool. Unfortunately, that isn't going to help the situation. Remain focused on your own game and do your best to play at a high level regardless of the circumstances.
  • Move on to the next shot. Golf is a game which is full of frustrations and bad shots. Even the best players in the world hit bad shots from time to time, so you can certainly expect to have your own share of poor outcomes when swinging the club. Too many golfers get mad at themselves when they hit a bad shot or two, and it ruins their attitude for the rest of the round. Before you start, you need to have it in your mind that there are going to be a few mistakes along the way – and you shouldn't let those mistakes get to you. Rather than dwelling on the poor shots you hit, let them roll off your back while you take pride in the good swings.
  • Know when to talk, and when to focus. There is nothing at all wrong with chatting with your playing partners during a round of golf. In fact, the social aspect of the game is one of the most enjoyable things about being a golfer. However, if you want to play well in addition to having fun, you need to understand when it is time for chatting and when it is time to focus and play golf. Generally speaking, anytime you are preparing for a shot is a time when you should cut off the chatter and get down to work. On the other hand, if you are waiting around for the green to clear before you can play, feel free to talk and share a laugh. As you gain experience on the links, you will notice a natural rhythm that occurs with regard to conversation timing.
  • Let your mind wander as you walk. If you are a golfer who enjoys walking the course rather than taking a cart, you can use your walks as a mental break from focusing on the game. For instance, if you hit a nice drive down the middle of the fairway and are strolling to your ball for a few minutes, take that chance to enjoy the view or just think about something away from golf. Giving yourself some mental breaks along the way will make it easier to play well all the way through the final hole. It is hard to focus on any specific thing for more than four hours, which is why mental breaks are such an important part of your success.

It takes practice to learn how to keep your mind focused properly throughout an entire round of golf. Just like you need to work on your physical skills in order to get better, you need to work on your mental game as well. By paying attention to this half of the golf equation, you should gradually improve your ability to focus during a round of golf.

The Physical Side of Warming Up

The Physical Side of Warming Up

Prior to wrapping up this article, we would like to offer a little advice on the physical side of the warm up puzzle. As was mentioned earlier, the warm up process is highly individualized, meaning you shouldn't just copy the template laid out by somebody else. Despite that fact, we can still offer you a few pointers which will be helpful as you plan out your own warm up routine. Try to stick to these tips and you should be nicely prepared for every round of golf when you arrive at the first tee.

  • It's not a practice session. The number one mistake made by amateur golfers during their warm up is treating the warm up like a practice session. You shouldn't be working on your swing at this time – you should simply be getting loose and ready to play. If there are technical problems in your swing, it is too late to fix them now. That work will have to wait for another day. For now, just get your body loosened up and find a good rhythm that you can take with you onto the course.
  • Don't hit too many balls. Golf doesn't seem like a particularly physical game, but you can get tired playing golf just like you can get tired doing anything else. By hitting a large bucket of balls before starting your round, you may find that you get fatigued earlier than you would have otherwise. There is no magic number for how many warm up shots you should hit, but something in the 20 – 25 range will be enough for most golfers.
  • Putt, putt, putt. Without a doubt, putting is the most important thing you can do before your round. The speed of the greens will change from day to day, so you need to get a feel for the pace of the putting surfaces even if you play this course all the time. In addition to learning green speeds, warming up your putting stroke will help you roll the ball nicely starting on the very first hole. If possible, add a few chip shots and bunker shots into your warm up mix to make sure you are ready for whatever the course throws at you.

It is important to warm up properly before you play golf. Getting off to a good start will not only benefit your scorecard on the early holes, but it will help your confidence as well. Think about your own personality and game and then design a warm up routine which addresses your needs specifically. As long as you prepare both your body and your mind for the challenge of playing golf, you should see great results. Good luck!