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How do you prepare for a round?

Club golfers come in all shapes and sizes – from the tour players-in-waiting heading out for their eighth round of the week to the 22-handicapper having the day of their golfing life in the monthly medal after not touching a club for a fortnight.

Where do you fall in this spectrum? Are you dedicated to warming up and finding a feel for the greens before setting foot on the first tee; do you run out of the locker room and tie your laces before taking one swing and getting under way; or do you, like me, fall somewhere in the middle?

While I’m never going to reach an elite level, a little bit of effort in the past has gone a long way. It’s been too easy to fall back into a routine of skipping proper preparation in recent months though. Golf takes a long time to play, so we should be spending a small amount of time to prepare properly.

There’s a reason why tour players have processes and routines before every round, and why they never need five holes to loosen up. Slow starts are hurting my scoring too much already this season and it’s down to a lack of preparation.

Getting out on the course at least one evening a week is certainly going to help. So is making the effort to hit some balls before I play – rather than joining in the debate of the day in the pro shop before my round. 

While I’m not going through a 45-minute session before the Saturday medal, hitting a few balls and getting a feel for chipping and putting makes a huge difference standing on the first tee or looking at a chip over a bunker early on – it’s certainly better preparation than rushing to the tee juggling a bacon sandwich and a cup of coffee. A bit of stretching, as my friend Sean Russell advised in a Tour Tips column recently, can also do wonders for your first few swings of the day – so I’ll be following his advice on that too.

A couple of range sessions a week, along with regular putting and chipping practice, has yielded results in the past, so that’s back on the agenda too. Some people won’t have the time to commit to a proper structure of lessons and practising, but you can fit good practice into a small timeframe if you need to, and you can always hit a few balls in the net before getting onto the tee.

A bit more practice and better preparation may not be the answer to all my golfing problems, but committing to better preparation isn’t going to hurt.