Most, if not all, top golfers pride themselves on conducting a thorough warm-up routine before hitting the course.
There‘s a real science behind a golf warm-up – a few practice swings just don’t cut it anymore, especially if you can only get on the course a few times a month and want to be at your best. Here are some of the best golfing warm up exercises to help you do just that.
Let’s face it, if you’re walking between 18 holes, it’s probably a good idea to give your legs a light workout. Walk briskly for three to five minutes, either around the car park or a quiet area of the course, then it’s time to…
Practice your swing!
A lot of factors come into play when you take a shot – namely the weather conditions and the terrain. Taking some practice shots will give you an idea of how far your shots will fly, where the ball will land and how far it will roll.
Golf Care ambassador Bernard Gallacher recommends hitting some 50 yard shots starting with a wedge, then building up to full shots with a wedge which go about 100 yards: “I then hit some 8 irons, 6 irons, 4 irons and a couple of drives. I sometimes finish off with a few bunker shots if there’s a bunker nearby, then some long and short putts.”
Once you’ve done that, it’s time to stretch! Here are the golfing warm up exercises we recommend, starting with upper body routines.
If you want to maximise your upswing and follow-through, the supine trunk-rotation stretch can help you do just that. This exercise is easy to perform standing, although you can also perform it lying down.
Start by hooking your arms around the golf club lengthwise across your back, then rotate your trunk and head to the left until you feel a stretch. Hold this position for 20 to 30 seconds, before repeating this stretch on the other side.
If you want to try something else, there are lots of other rotation stretches which maximise your flexibility, co-ordination and strength.
Bernard Gallacher swears by rotation exercises before taking to the golf course: “When I do stretches with a club between my arms and rotate my shoulders, I find this particularly helpful for my swinging technique.”
To achieve a strong downswing and backswing, your wrists need to be able to extend or bend backward. Any limitations in your wrist extension can limit your control of the golf club and could cause serious injuries.
That’s why wrist extension exercises are ideal for building up your forearm strength, helping you to control the golf club when playing from the rough, improving your consistency, and protecting you from injury.
Hold your arm out straight with your palm facing downwards and, with the opposite hand, gently bend your arm backward and hold the position for 20 seconds. Repeat this exercise two or three times and then switch sides. You’ll be swinging like Rory McIlroy in no time! (Disclaimer: We can’t promise you’ll get to his level straight away)
Standing hip stretch
Now onto the lower body exercises, and the standing hip stretch has long been a favourite warm-up exercise of golfers the world over.
Start by placing your hands on a golf club for balance. Place your right ankle on the outside of your left knee. Bend your left knee, inhale as you do so, leaning back as if you are sitting on a chair.
Bring the chest toward the shin, squeezing the shoulder blades together. Hold this position for three breaths and repeat five times, then switch sides.
Even if it’s not talked about as much as wrist control, pelvic control is key to getting good distance on your swing. Standing pelvic tilts help strengthen your abdominal muscles and stabilise your lower back. Here’s how you perform them….
Fold your arms in front of your chest and exhale, pulling your belly button towards your spine. Slowly tilt your tailbone under your pelvis and hold this position for three seconds. Inhale as you return to the start position and repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
Doing a few pre-game squats will increase your heart rate and increase blood flow to the major muscle groups.
Starting with your feet shoulder width apart, your arms out in front of you and your back straight, slowly bring your body down to a squatting position. As you squat down, focus on pushing your weight onto your heels and keeping your knees in line with your feet.
Do this exercise for one set of 10 and then repeat three times – then stride confidently towards the opening hole, chest puffed out, knowing that you’re primed and ready to make the game yours.
Hopefully performing these golfing warm up exercises get you the scores you want. But bear in mind, this is just a guideline. If you don’t feel comfortable doing all of these warm-ups before playing golf, it’s better to be safe than sorry!
In the words of Bernard Gallacher: “Before I play, I never spend more than 20 minutes warming up. Any longer than this, and I could wear myself out!”