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How long do pro golfers usually warm-up for?

July 29, 2019

Brooks Koepka, golf’s take-it-or-leave-it superstar, caught people’s attention when he cruised to the course a mere 45 minutes before his tee time, didn’t hit any golf balls, then shot 65 in the final group to top Rory McIlroy and win the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Championship.

Speaking after his victory, Brooks didn’t really understand what the big fuss was:

“I always take less time on Sunday. I’m already loose when I get to the golf course. I don’t even need to hit balls. I’ve already stretched, I’ve already done everything. I don’t know why everybody else is in a panic, I’m not. Everybody else is stressing. I’m sure you didn’t see one ounce of stress on my face. I usually am out there maybe 55 minutes before a normal tee time, but on Sundays it’s always like 45. I played for three straight days, it’s hot, I don’t feel that great, so I’m not going to go out there and waste my energy on the range when I can do it on the course.”

How players warm-up before their rounds has always been a little fascination of mine, something I keep an eye on and ask pros about at every opportunity.

Fans were amused at the brevity of Brooks’ warm-up but, in truth, it shouldn’t be all that surprising. It’s certainly on the shorter end of the spectrum, but at least from my observations over the years, it’s hardly unheard of.

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Players almost always do some form of activity before they hit the course, but the type of exercise varies from player to player. Running is fairly common, followed by light stretching to activate all the muscles for the day ahead. Apparently Tiger Woods used to hit the weights hard before his rounds as a way of relieving tension.

Many pros teeing off in the afternoon will generally keep an eye on the morning TV coverage, too, especially during the majors, to get an idea of how the course is playing.

But as far as when players get to the course itself, it usually varies from 60 to 90 minutes.

Jordan Spieth spends about 90 minutes from the moment he first walks onto the practice range from when he leaves for the first tee.

Woods was about the same, though he stops so frequently that it’s not a very efficient practice session, by design. He’s trying to set his body into a similar rhythm that

Dustin Johnson spends about 30 minutes on the range, and talks most of the time. He chips and putts either side of that.

Indeed, the most unusual thing about Koepka’s Sunday routine isn’t the brevity of it, but that he didn’t hit balls at all. He simply putted for 45 minutes. Strange on the face of it, but when you consider that his warm-up started long before he arrived at the golf course, it’s hardly strange at all.